Jesus continued, ‘Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. And so it is with you. When you see all these things, you know he is at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too – these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out”. (Mark 13: 28 – 31)
The special effects we see in movies have become almost perfect. The use of computer animation and graphics can create just about anything. And it all looks so real that it takes no imagination on our part. Our belief is suspended as we watch the screen with rapt attention.
In Jesus’ day, the storyteller created the images in people’s minds. So Jesus’ description of the last days had to have been both frightening and awesome to those who listened to him.
Inexplicably he switches directions and tactics and points to a simple fig tree. They grow wild, almost like weeds, all around those valleys Jesus visited. They were a common sight to all who listened to Jesus. He used the image to reinforce the dramatic message he had just described in simple and gentle words.
In this subtle way, Jesus is telling the listeners that the end-time will come for each person when God so chooses it to happen. We are not to worry. There will always be fanciful descriptions. People will always want to frighten us. Some will insist that they alone can interpret the signs that will be forthcoming.
Oh yes, the special effects will be spectacular. But the mystery of life and death and Resurrection are all round us in simple, beautiful ways for those with eyes of faith to see and experience.