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“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: as soon as its branch has become tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near. So you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”—Mark 13:28–31 (NASB)
Some of the parables Jesus gave were a tiny bit obscure. It was the whole “see but not see, hear but not hear” method. You can read more about that in Matthew 13:11–17. Suffice it to say, Jesus intended them to be confusing to encourage people to seek the Truth—Him!
But today’s parable isn’t confusing. It’s so simple a child can discern it: when trees leaf out, summer is near—elementary teaching. To level up our understanding, let’s examine the parallelistic structure of the text and refer to the question Jesus’ friends posed to Him back in Mark 13:4 (NIV) when the men asked Jesus, “When will these things happen?”
Jesus answered that question here in today’s passage, and He ingeniously used parallels to enforce His point. Note: “summer is near,” “He is near;” “see these things happening,” “these things take place;” “this generation will not pass away,” “My words will not pass away.” Brilliant!
Okay, so Jesus is a genius—we know that. But what was His point? We can know that, too.
Jesus is talking to men who asked when His kingdom will come, and He wants them to know; He wants us to know. This is where Matthew’s account helps fill in the gap. In Matthew 24:15 (NASB, emphasis added), Jesus says, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand.” Did you catch that? Jesus isn’t implying His men will see what He is describing; He is talking to the reader—to us and future generations who will witness “these things.”
Jesus’ point is concern and love; it’s grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy until the very end. In the midst of chaos—a time of false prophets, wars, famine, celestial and terrestrial upheaval, hatred, betrayal, intense persecution and tribulation (and let’s not forget the antichrist)—Jesus’ message is clear: repent, believe, and call upon His name for salvation.
Make no mistake . . . everything will pass away, but His words will not pass away. He wants us to know: “I have told you everything in advance” (Mark 13:23 NASB), “Let the reader understand” (Matthew 24:15 NASB), LEARN from this parable. When all this takes place, Jesus is near, right at the door.
“Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; . . . Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”—Isaiah 55:3,6 (NASB)
Pause: How is the warning and knowledge Jesus gives in today’s parable relevant to your life?
Practice: Examine yourself. Are you spiritually ready for Jesus to return?
Pray: Lord, thank You for being clear. Help me to seek You fully so that I may understand all You have to speak into my life. Amen.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.