Jesus then left the Temple. As he walked away, his disciples pointed out how very impressive the Temple architecture was.
Jesus said, "You're not impressed by all this sheer size, are you? The truth of the matter is that there's not a stone in that building that is not going to end up in a pile of rubble."
Later as he was sitting on Mount Olives, his disciples approached and asked him, "Tell us, when are these things going to happen? What will be the sign of your coming, that the time's up?"
Jesus said, "Watch out for doomsday deceivers.
Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, 'I am Christ, the Messiah.' They will deceive a lot of people.
When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end.
Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places.
This is nothing compared to what is coming.
"They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name.
And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other's throat, everyone hating each other.
"In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people.
For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in - nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.
"Staying with it - that's what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry, and you'll be saved.
All during this time, the good news - the Message of the kingdom - will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.
"But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the Temple sanctuary. The prophet Daniel described this. If you've read Daniel, you'll know what I'm talking about.
If you're living in Judea at the time, run for the hills;
if you're working in the yard, don't return to the house to get anything;
if you're out in the field, don't go back and get your coat.
Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard.
Hope and pray this won't happen during the winter or on a Sabbath.
"This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again.
If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God's chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.
"If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, 'Here's the Messiah!' or points, 'There he is!' don't fall for it.
Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better.
But I've given you fair warning.
"So if they say, 'Run to the country and see him arrive!' or, 'Quick, get downtown, see him come!' don't give them the time of day.
The Arrival of the Son of Man isn't something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you!
Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it's not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.
"Following those hard times, Sun will fade out, moon cloud over, Stars fall out of the sky, cosmic powers tremble.
"Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies - no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven.
At that same moment, he'll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God's chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
"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.
So it is with you: When you see all these things, you'll know he's at the door.
Don't take this lightly. I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place.
Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.
"But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.
"The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's.
Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark.
They knew nothing - until the flood hit and swept everything away.
Two men will be working in the field - one will be taken, one left behind;
two women will be grinding at the mill - one will be taken, one left behind.
So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up.
But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in.
Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.
"Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day.
Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job. A God-blessed man or woman, I tell you.
It won't be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation.
"But if that person only looks out for himself, and the minute the Master is away does what he pleases -
abusing the help and throwing drunken parties for his friends -
the Master is going to show up when he least expects it
and make hash of him. He'll end up in the dump with the hypocrites, out in the cold shivering, teeth chattering.
"God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom.
Five were silly and five were smart.
The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil.
The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps.
The bridegroom didn't show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.
"In the middle of the night someone yelled out, 'He's here! The bridegroom's here! Go out and greet him!'
"The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready.
The silly virgins said to the smart ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.'
"They answered, 'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.'
"They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.
"Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Master, we're here. Let us in.'
"He answered, 'Do I know you? I don't think I know you.'
"So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.
"It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities.
To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left.
Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment.
The second did the same.
But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money.
"After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them.
The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment.
His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'
"The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment.
His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'
"The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error.
I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'
"The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least?
The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
"'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb.
Throw him out into utter darkness.'
"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne.
Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats,
putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation.
And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.'
"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink?
And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?'
Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me.'
"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell.
And why? Because - I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'
"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'
"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me - you failed to do it to me.'
"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)