Jesus uses a parable to explain that the chaos of the world is a reminder to Christians that one day Christ will return and provide a new world for his people.
Luke 21:29 – 33
29 He told them this parable: ‘Look at the fig-tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 ‘Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Jesus begins this section with an easy to understand parable. He tells his hearers to look at a fig tree or any tree. He then points out, what was obvious to them, that when they see the tree sprout leaves it is a sign the summer is near. The analogy Jesus draws is equally simple to understand up to a point. He says, “when you see these things happening, you know the kingdom of God is near.” We get the general idea of what he means but two questions need to be answered. Firstly, what does he mean by, “these things” and secondly, what does he mean by, “the kingdom of God is near”?
The most obvious answer to the first question is that “these things” refers to all that has preceded in this chapter. It would mean then that when people see wars, famines, persecutions, Jerusalem and its temple being destroyed, frightening signs in the sky, chaos in general and several other things, then they are to know the Kingdom of God is near.
The second question is not so simple. The Kingdom of God is Jesus’ reign over the lives of his people. We can see it then from two perspectives. The first is that the Kingdom was established when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven as our King. The second perspective is that it will have its full manifestation when Christ returns and establishes the new heavens and new earth. When he says that the Kingdom of God is near, he means then that Christians who are part of the Kingdom through faith in Christ can recognise that the Kingdom will have that full manifestation at some time in the future. The New Testament consistently presents that as near or expressed another way, Christians can always have the hope that it is coming soon.
Following on from that we should note what Jesus says in verse 32, “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” Without some verbal sleight of hand, it is not possible to read those words as meaning anything (to those who first heard them) other than that Jesus’ earlier statements would be the experience of their generation. Again, “these things” are the wars, famines, persecutions etc. mentioned earlier. He is reinforcing that life will be difficult but don’t despair you are part of the Kingdom of God and all is not out of control because one day Jesus will return and recreate perfect order.
Jesus’ final words are that while heaven and earth will pass away his words never will. For us, it means that when we look at a world in confusion, chaos and trouble, we need only remember the comforting words of our gracious Lord and know that we belong to him. Whatever happens, we are safe and secure for eternity.
Head: Know that trouble in this world is normal Christian living.
Heart: Don’t be thrown into confusion by the troubles of life but trust Jesus.
Hands: In all circumstances just live a normal Christian life of love to God and to others.
Prayer: Father, please forgive me that I am often confused and troubled by life when it is difficult. Help me to remain faithful to you even in the most difficult situations as I wait for that glorious time when there will be a new heavens and a new earth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Glory in the Darkest Place
Living Church – Creek Road