Luke 21:29 – 38
29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” 37Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. 38And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
Jesus continues to talk about the coming of the Kingdom of God, both the “now” kingdom and the “not yet” kingdom, when the Son of God returns on the clouds. The first verses of this segment are a parable. Once again Jesus turns to a fig tree – the tree begins to bud when spring is coming, leaves form when the summer is coming. Look around you – where do you see the true buds of hope, of love, of joy? Where do you see the leaves of action from those who love God and neighbor and seek to follow God’s will? Those are the indicators of the “now” kingdom, the kingdom Christ initiates in his incarnation (life), death, and resurrection. We can see them around us; we can be a part of them. These things were indeed happening before those he was teaching passed away.
Earthly kingdoms, Rome and all those empires from then until now, have passed away. Earthly kingdoms are not Christ’s kingdom. They will all pass away, but the words of Christ stand. Some 2000 years and many empires since he spoke, Christ’s words still stand.
But if we let ourselves, our hearts, be weighed down with negativity – with fear, hate, pride, selfishness, worry, dissipation (selfishness carried to an extreme), grasping for power, even with self-righteousness – then we will not be able to hear that still, small voice that God uses when he calls us. We will not be able to join the Kingdom because we will not hear God’s will, and we will mistake our own will, our own versions of righteousness, for God’s will. When that happens, we miss out on participating in the “now” kingdom, and are not ready for the “kingdom to come”.
We pray that we will have the strength to participate in Christ’s kingdom – the disciples were persecuted for their participation, and yet they continued. They and we prayed for strength to get through the hard times of life, and the persecutions, and to stand before Christ on the day of judgment, to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Jesus continued to teach each day in the temple, and the people would get up early to go to the temple to hear him speak. What an amazing experience, to actually go hear Jesus himself preach! In the evenings he would go out, spending the night at the little village of Bethany on the other side of the Mount of Olives.