And he said, "See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am he!" and, "The time is at hand!" Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once."
Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
And he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
This is Jesus' last big warning to the crowds and the religious leaders about the time when He will return to bring judgment upon the earth. Reading it as a believer, although in my humanness made me sweat, also tightened the security in my heart of my salvation and my confidence and love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. Reading through the text about nations rising against nations; saints dying for the name of Jesus; mothers, fathers, brothers, friends, delivering the believer to be mocked- even put to death for their faith in Jesus; people fainting with fear... those are the parts that made me sweat- we think about that time as something happening in the future- years down the road. My dear friends- some of these things are already happening to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ in other parts of the world. To make it real to you, I included this photo:
Don't take these things for granted. Jesus warns us at the end of this text to "watch ourselves lest our hearts be weighed down with... the cares of this world." This is the hard part of life I think. Remembering who we are and where our home is. If we focus too much on this temporary home, the cares of this place will distract us from our true focus: Jesus. We will experience suffering because Jesus did. We will undergo persecution because Jesus did. We will see storms because Jesus tells us we will. But Jesus encourages us to "pray that we may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place." Jesus doesn't tell us that when we follow Him life will be easy- but following Him brings a life no other will know. Trusting Him regardless of what's to come brings joy and peace. You can destroy this place, this body but as Jesus said in verse 18, "But not a hair of your head will perish."
What feelings does this article stir in you? Does it bring you fear? Comfort? Are you confident that you will endure this life and all of its troubles and stand before Jesus as one who finished the race well? Will you be one who delivers you brother or sister up to be mocked or killed for their faith?
The most important question: Is Jesus your King?
Jesus, my prayer is that you would rescue your people! Deliver those who do not know you from the hand of the enemy. Let us know you in the depths of our hearts, and may you renew our minds according to your wonderful Word. Let it change us, make us new. May you be glorified!