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The Beginning of the Birth Pangs

24 Jesus left the Temple and went away. As he did so, his disciples came and pointed out the Temple buildings to him. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘and you see all these things? I’m telling you the truth: not one stone will be left standing upon another. All of them will be thrown down.’

As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately.

‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that you are going to appear as king, and that the end of the age is upon us?’

‘Watch out,’ replied Jesus. ‘Don’t let anyone deceive you. You see, there will be several who will come along, using my name, telling you “I’m the Messiah!” They will fool lots of people. You’re going to hear about wars, actual wars and rumoured ones; make sure you don’t get alarmed. This has got to happen, but it doesn’t mean the end is coming yet. Nations will rise against one another, and kingdoms against each other. There will be famines and earthquakes here and there. All this is just the start of the birthpangs.

‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 Then several will find the going too hard, and they will betray each other and hate each other. 11 Many false prophets will arise, and they will deceive plenty of people. 12 And because lawlessness will be on the increase, many will find their love growing cold. 13 But the one who lasts out to the end will be delivered. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom must be announced to the whole world, as a witness to all the nations. Then the end will come.’

The Desolating Sacrilege

15 ‘So when you see “the sacrilege that desolates”, as Daniel the prophet put it, “standing in the holy place” (the reader should understand), 16 then those who are in Judaea should take to their heels and run to the mountains. 17 If you’re up on your roof, don’t go down into the house to get things out. 18 If you’re in the fields, don’t go back to pick up your cloak. 19 It’s going to be terrible for pregnant and nursing women during those days. 20 Pray that it won’t be winter when you have to run away, or for that matter a sabbath. 21 Yes: there’s going to be such great suffering then as has never been since the start of the world until now – no, and won’t ever be again. 22 And if those days had not been shortened, nobody at all would have been rescued. But for the sake of God’s chosen ones those days will be shortened.

23 ‘Then if anyone says to you, “Look! Here is the Messiah!” or “Look! There he is!”, don’t believe them. 24 False messiahs will arise, you see, and false prophets too. They will provide great signs and portents, so as to deceive even God’s chosen ones, if that were possible. 25 Remember, I’m telling you this beforehand!

26 ‘So if someone says to you, “Look! He’s out in the wilderness”, don’t go out. If they say, “Look, he’s in the inner room”, don’t believe them. 27 You see, the royal appearing of the son of man will be like the lightning that comes from the East and flashes across to the West. 28 Where the carcass is, there the vultures will gather.’

The Coming of the Son of Man

29 ‘Straight away,’ Jesus continued, ‘after the suffering that those days will bring,

The sun will turn to darkness,
and the moon won’t give its light;
the stars will fall from heaven,
and the powers of heaven will shake.

30 ‘And then the sign of the son of man will appear in heaven; then all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see “the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory. 31 He will send off his messengers with a great trumpet-blast, and they will collect his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32 ‘Learn the hidden meaning from the fig tree. When its branch begins to sprout, and to push out its leaves, then you know that summer is nearly there. 33 So with you: when you see all these things, you will know that it is near, at the very gates. 34 I’m telling you the truth: this generation won’t be gone before all these things happen. 35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never, ever disappear.’

The Unexpected Coming

36 ‘Nobody knows what day or time this will happen,’ Jesus went on. ‘The angels in heaven don’t know it, and nor does the son; only the father knows. 37 You see, the royal appearing of the son of man will be like the days of Noah.

38 ‘What does that mean? Well, in those days, before the flood, they were eating and drinking, they were getting married and giving children in marriage, right up to the day when Noah went into the ark. 39 They didn’t know about it until the flood came and swept them all away. That’s what it’ll be like at the royal appearing of the son of man.

40 ‘On that day there will be two people working in the field. One will be taken, the other will be left. 41 There will be two women grinding corn in the mill. One will be taken, the other will be left.

42 ‘So keep alert! You don’t know what day your master will come. 43 But bear this in mind: if the householder had known what time of night the burglar was going to come, he would have stayed awake and wouldn’t have let his house get broken into. 44 So you too must be ready! The son of man is coming at a time you don’t expect.’

The Wise and Wicked Slaves

45 ‘So,’ Jesus went on, ‘who then is the trustworthy and sensible slave, the one the master will set over his household, so that he will give them their meals at the right time? 46 Blessings on the servant whom the master, when he comes, finds doing just that. 47 I’m telling you the truth: he’ll promote him to be over all his belongings. 48 But if the wicked slave says in his heart, “My master’s taking his time”, 49 and starts to beat the other slaves, and to feast and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day he doesn’t expect, and at a time he doesn’t know. 51 He will cut him in two, and put him along with the hypocrites, where people will weep and grind their teeth.’