Good Morning!I am still on the road – finished the seminar I came up for yesterday afternoon and stayed over to visit a friend. I will be driving back to Miami today, staying over for a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and will be back in the Keys tomorrow night.
24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he* is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Jesus does move on to his return – but it is in days “after that suffering”. This is now a different time to which Jesus refers, and he again uses apocalyptic language. Isaiah, Ezekial, Joel, and in the Apocrypha, Esdras, all refer to times of great change with the language of the sun being darkened and the skies falling. I have seen references to those terms in TV today, in fact. I won’t paste it here, but if you wish to read an example of an apocalypse from the OT, read the second chapter of Joel. And, of course, the book of Revelation is an apocalypse, and uses some of this same language. The take-away is that the language in an apocalypse is not meant as a literal description; it is meant as a way to describe what is indescribable within our experience. What is the indescribable? It is the Kingdom of God, in its final fulfillment, the return of Christ as king, ruler of all our hearts.
How do we know when that day is coming? Now, at last, Jesus gives the signs the disciples asked for, but in the form of a puzzle. They had talked about a withered fig tree a few days before, now Jesus brings the image of a fig tree back to mind. When you see the fig tree become pliable (the sap rises in the branches) and green buds begin to form, you know that spring is coming. When you begin to see the fruit of the Spirit produced by Jesus’ followers, the Kingdom of God is present. Christ returns first in the form of the Spirit, at Pentecost, and to each one of us after that. His Kingdom is wherever and whenever God’s will is done; each little thing, each time we follow God’s will, we see a bud on the fig tree. Those there with Jesus on the Mount of Olives that day long ago would live to see those buds, would live to see fruit of the Kingdom, would live to see the Spirit come into them.
Is there a great final return of the King yet to come? We speak of the “Kingdom NOW” and of the “Kingdom YET TO COME”, when there will be no more war – the lion will lie down with the lamb; there will be no more pain, no more tears – all creation will be renewed! (There are those who think the Kingdom will come with destruction of all creation, and those who believe it will come with the renewal of all creation. I agree with the latter.) We wait for this final, beautiful, not frightening, day! Meanwhile, we follow our king, as best we can!