First Sunday of Advent
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” ESV
This reading is an extension of the parousia that starts with v. 20. 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. ESV These five verses describe the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and Jesus seems to be saying that when you see that desolation, it will only be a small taste of what is to come.
But 25-28 describe the return of the King of Kings. In that sense, it fits with the first coming of the King of Kings—Christmas.
Luke sets this account inside the walls of Jerusalem instead of on the Mount of Olives as in Matthew 24:29-31 and Mark 13:24-27. We should expect the Messiah to return to Jerusalem.
29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. ESV
Figs were common in the region, so everyone knew what he meant by this small parable. We know spring is near when daffodils push up out of the soil. In other words, the sign will be obvious.
The word all presents us with a bit of a problem. Having said that this generation will not pass away, he then says all. Clearly that generation has passed away, so what happened to the returning Messiah? Many possibilities have been presented, none being the clear winner. Remember that Jesus did not know the details of the end either.
We try to make all the passages about us when they are really about God. Look back at v 26, the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then v 27, the Son of Man coming in a cloud; all Heaven; God related.
The key for us is to be ready. As Christians we have something greater than ourselves to look forward to. Most people see life as little more than running in a squirrel cage, getting nowhere fast. We have the Heavenly Wedding and Banquet to live for. Be ready.
The Son of Man is here. He never really left. Yes, the Holy Spirit is here as well, but Jesus is seen by thousands of people on earth today.
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” ESV
I underlined one phrase for special attention. It is too easy to become so involved in living our lives that we forget God. Likewise, the problems of living can become so burdensome that we despair of ever seeing God or goodness again. Either can get in the way of living a Christian life.
A Christian life is a life of love. 1 Corinthians 13. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. NIV If this chapter was the only thing Paul ever wrote, it would be enough.
Be righteous and do good.