(21:29-33) As so often when Jesus is teaching, he uses a parable to explain his meaning. Such similitudes aid the understanding in the same way that windows in a house allow the light to come in. We need the solidity of the structure of understanding, but if there are no windows, that light will not come in and understanding will be unlikely. Jesus, the master teacher, used stories and parables and illustrations—not so as to take over the teaching and be memorable for their own sake, but so as to illuminate the teaching in the mind’s eye of the listener.
This parable is of a fig tree. In those days, people would have been familiar with the cycle of a fig tree to be able to tell by the coming of the leaf of that tree that summer was around the corner. When we see blossom on a tree today, we know that in all likelihood summer is not far off. Similarly, Jesus is saying, these events that he has been describing mean that the kingdom of God is not far off too. This is true, verse 32, both for the more immediate prophecy of the sacking of Jerusalem, and also, verse 33, for the words that he has spoken about the very end that will never pass away even when heaven and earth do.
(21:34-38) What are we to learn from these prophecies of the end? Watch (21:34) and pray (21:36). This instruction was long remembered—see 1 Peter 4:7—and is a word to carry with us still today. We are to stay awake, not become drowsy with ease or lulled to somnolence by the cares of this world (21:34). And we are to pray that God would give us strength to escape all the challenges that are to come (21:35). Are you sensing that you are more alive to the things of God today than yesterday? More alive this year than last year? If we are not awakening, we are likely sleeping into drowsiness. Pray that God would awaken us and revive us that we might be alert to things of God, follow him in our lives, and have the strength that we need to serve him fully.
This is how Jesus was teaching day by day in the temple courts (21:37). He retired at night to Mount Olivet to rest and sleep. And early in the morning, the people came to him in the temple to hear him. What a teacher! The people pack to hear him as he expounds the truth of God to their ears. May we each morning come to the Bible asking that Jesus through his Word and by his Spirit would meet with us and speak to us!
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