As Jesus and His disciples leave the temple He tells them that it will be destroyed. This causes the disciples to ask three questions concerning future events.
Jesus first answers the disciples’ third question, “What will be the sign of the end of the age?” He answered that it will come after greatly increased lawlessness, and after the gospel of the kingdom is preached in the entire world as a testimony to all the nations.
He then answers the disciples’ second question, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” He refers them to the prophecy from the Book of Daniel called “the Abomination of Desolation.” This is not the sign of His return, but it is a precursor to it. He warns His disciples to flee Jerusalem as soon as they see the sign in order to escape the bloody danger that will instantly follow. It will be a time of unprecedented peril. Though false Christs will come, it will be obvious they are not Him. When Jesus returns, everyone will know it. He will gather His elect, shake the powers of the heavens, and come to earth on the clouds of glory. He will be seen by those on the earth, and the tribes of the earth will mourn.
Lastly, Jesus answers the disciples’ first question, “When will these things happen?” He shares the parable of the fig tree as a way to say: pay attention to the signs and seasons so that you will be ready when the day is near. He promises that this generation that sees the signs will not pass away until these things occur. Heaven and Earth will literally pass away, but Jesus’s words will endure forever. He tells the disciples even though the signs He gave will indicate His approach is very near, that “No one knows the day or hour of His return, but the Father alone.” He parallels His return to the Days of Noah. The judgment will suddenly come upon those who are not ready just like it did at the Flood. Jesus admonishes the disciples to be ready at all times.
Then He tells the first of four parables to illustrate His return and the end of the age. The first parable is about a master leaving his house on business. He will reward the obedient servants upon his return, and punish the wasteful servants.