Asked about signs of the temple's destruction, Jesus speaks of ordeals, cosmic signs, and the return of the Son of Man.
The disciples are enamored by the scale and beauty of the Jerusalem temple and exclaim, "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!" (13:1). Jesus' response is to teach about the temple's coming destruction (13:2). Peter, James, John, and Andrew ask about what sign will precede that event, and Jesus gives warnings about what will take place: others will come in his name, and wars, earthquakes, and famines will be accompanying signs (13:3-8). His followers will be handed over, receive beatings, and stand before leaders of the world, but "the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations" (13:10). There will be divisions within families, but the disciples hear that "it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit" (13:9-13). A desolating sacrilege will profane the temple along with many tribulations, including false messiahs and false prophets (13:14-23).
Cosmic signs in the sun, moon, stars, and powers in the heavens will attend the day when the Son of Man comes with great power and glory (13:24-27). Jesus' teaching on the withering of the fig tree (11:12-26) likewise offers a sign of the imminence of all these things. Yet, in the midst of it all, Jesus' promise holds true beyond measure: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (13:31). Jesus' final words on watchfulness (13:32-37) draw us directly into the Passion Narrative that follows (14:1-15:47). In a parable, the unexpected return of the master during the four watches of the night ushers readers into the Passion Narrative and the events that unfold in those four watches: evening (14:17-31), midnight (14:32-52), cockcrow (14:53-72), and dawn (15:1-20).
13As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings! 2Then Jesus asked him, Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.
3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished? 5Then Jesus began to say to them, Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, I am he!* and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
9 As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. 10And the good news* must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 13and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
14 But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 15someone on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; 16someone in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 17Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 18Pray that it may not be in winter. 19For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. 20And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. 21And if anyone says to you at that time, Look! Here is the Messiah!* or Look! There he is!do not believe it. 22False messiahs* and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23But be alert; I have already told you everything.
24 But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28 From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he* is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
33Beware, keep alert;* for you do not know when the time will come.
34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.
35Therefore, keep awakefor you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,
36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.
37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org