“Then he told them a parable: ”Look at the fig tree and all the other trees. When they sprout leaves, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near. So also you, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
I really hope you have been able to enjoy the dogwoods and redbuds blooming lately. The azaleas are in full burst mode on my street and all of my anti-pollen powers are working overtime lately.
We see the seasons change and we are pleased, but not surprised. Well, sort of. After a long, cold, Winter, we do kind of forget how beautiful an early morning in the Spring can be.
C.S. Lewis makes a comment in The Screwtape Letters about how bad we as humans need and want the changing seasons, and how God has answered that need:
He has contrived to gratify both tastes together on the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual ear; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Jesus uses the seasons as an example for us to see that the end of the world is coming when we see all of the disasters and atrocities that He mentions. He goes back and forth, doesn’t He, from making it sound like it will be soon to making it sound like a long way off.
I think some of that is because He can see the faces of us as we hear this news. Some of us need the hope and reassurance that the struggles we face today won’t last forever. Jesus is coming and will bring justice and make everything right.
Some of us are like the thunder brothers or Jonah and we’re ready to watch the end of the world happen from a front-row seat. Bring on the fire, Jesus! To those folks, Jesus says “the Father is patient. It would serve you well to be patient, too!”
And to the folks that think they have a lifetime to squander because Jesus is in no hurry to return, He says “be on your watch! The Son of Man will come like a thief in the night!” Not a single one of us can guess how long we’ll live or how long it will take us to repent and turn to Jesus.
Just as sure as Spring is passing and pretty soon we’ll all be wearing shorts and enjoying summer, Jesus is going to come again. (Ok, we all know that one guy that wears shorts when it’s 39º out, but I mean all of us.)
The most important bit in this passage is what Jesus says about His words. If everything is going to pass away like last fall, wouldn’t you want to hold on to something that is still around? That will last through it all?
He offers His words to us even today through the scriptures, and we can read them and discuss them and sit on them long after every season is passed.
Extra Credit: Speaking of wearing shorts when it’s 39, the spiritual assessment that Bret mentioned on Sunday can be found here. It can help you think about and find out if your disposition is to read Jesus’ words, talk about them with others, or think about them on a long walk on the beach.