CONSIDER THE TREES
Lord, we know that the kingdom of God is near.
Read LUKE 21:29–38
29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.
New International Version (NIV)
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“You will go out in joy, be led forth in peace; the mountains will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12 adapted)
Jesus now summons readers to consider the fig tree and all other trees. What a great idea: we should join him in considering trees, being reminded that a genuine concern for God’s creation is an essential dimension of his mission (Luke 21:13; Acts 1:8). Jesus has deciduous trees in mind: those like the oak, maple, and hickory, which shed their leaves in autumn, ready to leaf again in spring and summer. When we see leaves budding on these trees, we know that summer is near. This reminds me of a tree we have in New Zealand, the pohutakawa. Although not deciduous, when it bears its lovely red flowers, we know summer is beginning. It is this kind of thing Jesus has in mind.
In verse 30, summer is a resurrection metaphor referring to the full flowering of the kingdom after the events in verses 5–21, the mission to the nations (21), our redemption, (28) and the coming of the kingdom (31). “This generation” is challenging. It can refer to Jewish contemporaries of Jesus, the Jewish race, wicked people (Luke 9:41). Luke’s contemporaries, or the end-time generation. Deciding is difficult. Then again, Jesus tells us we cannot predict the date (Mark 13:32; Matthew 24:36), so do we need to? He exhorts us to be watchful.
The final verses challenge us to be ready whenever that day comes! We are to guard against falling into drunkenness, a huge issue in both the Greco-Roman world and our own. We are not to allow the cares of this life to draw us away from our primary commitment to our King and his business. To be ready is to be faithful. Then, we will not be taken unawares as we face death or the return of our Lord. We are to be awake and prayerful so that we may stand firm until the end.
Go for a walk. Find some trees. Consider them. Pray for creation. Pray we will be ready for Jesus when He comes.
Lord, Your people are mindful of our need to watch continually and not to allow ourselves to be weighed down with the wrong things as Your return draws near.
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