Markby Robert M. Solomon
After these distressing days, when there would be chaos on earth and in the skies, Jesus, the Son of Man, would return ″in clouds with great power and glory″ (v. 26). He would gather His elect from everywhere and establish His kingdom forever (v. 27). This general outline of the future is followed by John in Revelation. We read in Revelation 1:7 that Jesus would return in the clouds and that everyone would see Him. He would judge the living and the dead and establish His kingdom forever. Jesus would exercise His divine authority, for only God has the authority to dispatch angels to do His bidding and to be the ultimate Judge.
Like many Old Testament prophecies, the events Jesus foretells span a broad sweep of time, from the near to the distant future. His words are a theological telescope that shows both what would happen soon after the Olivet discourse-the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70-and the distant future at the end of history, when Jesus shall return.
When Jesus told the parable of the fig tree, the lesson was applicable to both the terrible destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman army, less than four decades away, and to the devastation of the end times. This is in keeping with many biblical prophecies which can be applied to both the intermediate as well as the distant future. There were many fig trees in Israel and everyone knew that when the trees began to sprout leaves, it was a sign that summer was nearing. It also meant that harvest time would follow. Therefore, when the signs mentioned by Jesus occurred, people were to expect that ″it is near, right at the door″ (v. 29). The ″it″ referred to the end when Jesus would return.
There was one puzzling statement of Jesus (v. 30). Why did He say that these things will be fulfilled during the lifetime of His listeners? Actually, they were partially fulfilled in AD 70 when Jerusalem fell to the Roman army. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus records the details of this tragic event. The city suffered a terrible siege and was finally destroyed, along with its temple. More than a million people were said to have been killed. The ″abomination that causes desolation″ (v. 14) is seen by some scholars as referring to the Roman soldiers planting their standards and worshipping their gods in the ruins of the temple during the fall of the city. It is in this regard that the phrase ″this generation″ (v. 30) may have meant ″this race of Jews″.
Jesus' prophecy, fulfilled partially in AD 70, awaits total fulfilment in the future.
In the light of what Jesus taught in Mark 13, why do you think He wept over Jerusalem in Luke 19:41-44? What does it say about how we should pray for our world in which the majority do not recognise the coming of God?
What personal implication is there for you that the elect would be gathered from everywhere (v. 27)? How would you pray for yourself and for others?