This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.
Chapter 13 reflects Jesus Christ’s love for those who are His. He briefs His disciples, and you, about future events that will climax with His return to gather you and me. His instructions, as you see these things unfold? Be ready, take heed, keep on the alert!
Verses 1-2 — Throughout Jesus Christ’s ministry on the earth, He taught in the Temple, surrounded by many disciples besides the Twelve. On this occasion, one comments on the beauty and majesty of the Temple. Jesus says not one stone would be left upon another. Everything will be in ruins. Indeed, this was fulfilled in 70 AD, when Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple.
Why? The Jewish leaders rejected their Messiah, their Christ. God the Father’s will is that our bodies become His temples, and that He and His Son dwell in us, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit (John 14:23). Temple worship is no longer needed, since men and women become His temples. Think of it! God in you, so where you go, He goes. Where you walk, He WORKS!
For those who rejected their Christ the punishment was that the Temple building which they worshiped like an idol or a talisman, would be destroyed.
IMPORTANT POINT: Once you have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, ask Him to make your body His temple by filling you with His Spirit. He will do it! His will is fulfilled when you are filled full!
Verses 3-13 — Now four disciples question Jesus privately. When will the Temple be destroyed? What will be the sign that it is going to happen?
Jesus says this:
— Many will come in His name and say they are the Christ or are of Him, to try to seduce you, to draw you away, to cause you to wander from Him. They will say they are Him, or His representatives, but they will not live as He lived when He was on the earth, nor will they teach what He taught. They will speak ear-tickling words (2Timothy 4:3), for their own financial gain. It is happening even today.
— There will be wars and rumors of wars, but that is still not the end. There will be a ramping-up of unrest and war in the world, earthquakes at an ever-increasing rate, and famines. These are only the beginning of birth pangs, though. Like birth pangs, they will continue to increase in frequency and intensity.
— Be on your guard. Behold, beware, take heed! Christians will be arrested, taken to court, flogged, and stand before governors and kings, as a testimony to the governors and kings. What will be the testimony, when you stand before governors and kings? The testimony is this — the Holy Spirit will speak through you, as you stand before your accusers. And they will know it is Jesus speaking through you (Acts 4:13).
Already, across the earth, many Christians are murdered and martyred because they refused to renounce Christ — more in the 20th and 21st centuries than in all centuries from the time Jesus was crucified. You can find out more by going to persecution.com, the web site for Voice of the Martyrs. Remember the Coptic Christians who were lined up on the beach by ISIS and beheaded because they refused to renounce Jesus? It will become like that everywhere, and worse.
Family ties will mean nothing. Many will (and now do) expose Christian family members so they are arrested or simply killed on the spot.
In Verse 10, the Lord specifies that the gospel must first be preached to all nations. That is nearly accomplished by today’s missionaries, but I believe He also refers to Revelation 14:7, when the angel flies in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tongue and people.
IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus gives people the opportunity to come to Him until the very last moment of time. He so desires that all be saved, but He knows some will reject, even then.
— You will be hated by ALL because of the name of Jesus Christ. He promises it in John 15:18 and forward, and tells us that it is because you are not of the world system; you simply live in the world. Hatred for true Christians will continue to intensify greatly, even among family members.
And so Jesus says, “Endure! Remain! Stand fast! Persevere! Have courage amidst pain and adversity! If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will have His courage in you. That is Who you need in these last days. Then you will be saved. But aren’t you already saved? Yes, but there is a greater salvation, a time when Jesus will gather His true church. The whole world will see it, when He gathers you (Mark 13:26, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Verses 14-23 — Jesus tells us what will happen just before He returns:
— There will be an abomination of desolation in the Temple. Wasn’t the Temple destroyed in 70 AD? Doesn’t the Muslim Dome of the Rock stand in its place, or near its original footprint? Yes, but Israel is planning a Third Temple. Go to http://templeinstitute.org to learn more.
— To that Temple will come a great abomination — a total sacrilege. At that time, everyone who heeds Christ’s words is to flee, and not take time to gather up any belongings. The references to pregnant women and young mothers, and winter, may indicate that it will be when we least expect it, and perhaps in the hardest season of the year to be without shelter.
—In those days, when the abomination of desolation is in the Third Temple, a tribulation will occur which has never been seen before and which will never be seen again. Great pressure, great affliction, great persecution, great trouble is coming to the church. It will be so difficult, that the time of it will be shortened, so those who are His followers are able to stand it.
— And at that time, false priests and prophets will be more prevalent than ever, performing false signs and wonders. Again, He says that those who are chosen by Him at that time must not believe anyone who says they are the Christ. Those who are chosen by Him at that time will know when He comes.
— He says, take heed, beware, pay attention. He has told you EVERYTHING in advance. He has not left out any detail that you need to know. He has told you in advance because He is God the Son, deity, and sees all that was, is, and ever will be. He was like that even when He dwelled on the earth.
IMPORTANT POINT: Preachers often “humanize” Jesus. He is confused, He is afraid. He is unsure. It is utter nonsense, an attempt to mold Jesus into our image so we are more comfortable with Him or so we can “identify” with Him. Do not listen to such preachers, but run from them.
Verses 24-27 — Then, after the tribulation he speaks about in verse 19, the signs of the end will happen, and the Son of Man (one of the names of Jesus Christ) will come in the clouds with great power and glory. It will be a powerful and glory-filled sight, and everyone will see. Then comes the gathering of His church from across the earth — from the farthest away to the nearest.
There is some difference of interpretation on when the church goes up, and some believe that the church goes up, then another group called “the elect,” perhaps the 144,000 from the Book of Revelation. But the main point is to be ready, be on the alert!
Verses 28-32 — You can tell when a fig tree is about to bear fruit (not the day or the hour, but the season of summer). In the same way, you will know that He is coming soon (not the day or the hour, but the season), when you see what He has described in the previous verses. You will know that He is near, right at the door.
Then He says something that sounds strange. The disciples had asked when this would happen. Jesus said this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. If “generation” means what you and I think it means, it would appear that Jesus was wrong. But the Greek for “generation” means age, generation, or time. So this age will not pass away until these things happen. This age is called the church age, when the church is active in the world. When we are raptured (1Corinthians 15:51-53, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18), that age will end.
Please note that “church” is defined as all believers in Jesus Christ, be they Jewish or non-Jewish (Gentile).
At that time, heaven and earth will pass away; they will be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1ff), in which God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and the church will spend eternity with God.
Verses 33-37 — Look! Jesus speaks “take heed” and “keep on the alert” four times in this section! How important is it that you know Jesus Christ and are reconciled to the Father, and are found doing what their Master commanded them to do (Matthew 24:45-46). He has placed you in charge. You are part of an occupying army, until He returns. Don’t be sleeping when He returns. Be ready! Occupy! Be an ambassador (2Corinthians 5:18-20)!