On the Mount of Olives, just before His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus answered these questions from His disciples: “When will the destruction of the Temple happen?” “What will be the sign of your return and the end of the world?”
In a near-far prophecy that will span thousands of years, Jesus attempted to provide answers that will comprise many events from the Roman siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple in 70 CE to the end-times judgment. These milestones, among others, can be found in complementary texts Matthew Chapters 24-25 and Revelation 6-22:5.
After providing many signs to come including the persecution of the saints by Satan through the future Antichrist (cf. Matthew 24:15-31, Mark 13:14-27, and Luke 21:24-28), Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32).
Be careful here! “This generation” is tied to the audience addressed in the previous passages – not to the disciples’ generation. The future generation that will see “these things” (e.g. the Antichrist, signs in the heavens, etc.) will also witness Jesus’ return. To support a belief that He returned in 70 CE, some have claimed that “this generation” depicts the generation of the disciples Jesus was talking to.
As we’ve previously discussed in another blog, the purpose of the parable of the fig tree given by Jesus (just after He provided signs of the end) was to illustrate that, “when you see this, you will see that . . .” In other words, the generation that sees the signs of the end (Antichrist’s persecution and destruction, darkening of the natural lights, etc.) will also see Jesus return to gather His faithful. It wasn’t some kind of cryptic, figurative reference to Israel becoming a nation as some have suggested. Again, it was just an association by Jesus of the last-days events to come to the generation that will witness them along with His coming.
Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (cf. Matthew 24:32-33, Mark 13:28-29, and Luke 29-31).
Be ready . . .