By Pastor Jack Marbida
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
The context of Mark 13 talks about the signs of the end times. Jesus is speaking about the destruction of the temple and the difficult things that are going to take place. The question is, “are we here in the end times?” If you read the entire chapter, you will see that the end times are here. When you talk about the end times, you ask for signs. People are so fond of asking for signs. But sometimes, even when the signs are there, you still do not believe.
The word “learn” in Mark 13:28 comes from the Greek word “manthano” which means “to understand.” Try to understand what Jesus is trying to tell you in he parable of the fig tree. Do you not wonder why the fig tree was used? This is not the first time it was used in the Bible. You hear about it even in the Old Testament. The fig tree is widely grown in Mediterranean countries in Europe. Its fruit, both fresh and dry, is very good to eat. It is an excellent source of vitamins and good for those who are trying to lose weight. its leaves are good for people with diabetes. Although these are all said about the fig tree, it is considered as a poor man’s food. In Mark 11, Jesus cursed the fig tree because He was hungry and it did not have any fruit. It was a representation of the unfruitfulness of Israel at that time. But when the fig tree begins to grow leaves, you can tell that summer is near.
Point #1: Be ready - in and out of season
Why do you have to be ready at all times? 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” You have to be ready to preach the word all the time to everybody. Are you ready to share God’s word to other people if you are given an opportunity? Just like the preparations that take place during Christmas or the summer holidays, God calls you to be ready to share the changes in your life as well as His great love for all His people.
Point # 2: Be watchful - be on your guard (v.29)
When you look at the verse, Jesus answers the question of the disciples about the signs of the end times. He tells them that when they see certain things happening, He is there right at the door. Just like a boy scout, you have to be ready and alert at all times too. What do you have to watch for? All Christians need to watch out for their words, their actions and their being complacent. Some people think going to church, giving their tithes and helping others is enough. You have to be careful of being ok. Luke 21:36 says, “Be on the alert at all times...” Are you aware of what you are browsing online, what you are reading and hearing in the news? Mark 13:5-8 says, “Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.” Do not let your faith waver because of the things around you. When Jesus said this, He was not only speaking to the disciples at that time. He is speaking to everybody in this time and you can see all these things happening. That is why you have to be watchful. Watch for your faith.
Point #3: Be strong - you must hold fast to faith (v. 30-31)
God’s word will not pass away, because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” This is an absolute blessing to everyone today. What, is with the pandemic and all, you know that God will supply everything. His blessings are abundant throughout the generations. Jeremiah 29:11 also says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
If you want to go back to all of God’s promises, I encourage you to get a notebook. If you have a chance, write down the promises of God. And during those difficult times when you think you have none, go ack to God’s promises. When you ask, He will always give. How is your faith now? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Be steadfast. Be strong in your faith. so that when He comes again, we can all go with Him to heaven. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” At the end of your life, this verse must hold true. Amidst this pandemic, is your faith strong?
If you have held on to your faith, that is good. But during those times when it wavers, go back to God. There are so many times when this can happen. To those who do not know Jesus as the giver of strength, life and eternal life, I pray you see the work of God during this time. God is preparing you. Be prepared.