Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near (Mark 13:28).
When summer finally comes each year, most people think of vacation time, when all the leaves are green and the livin is easy. But the only time the word summer ever appears in the New Testament is in our text as spoken by the Lord Himself. (See also Matthew 24:32 and Luke 21:30 for the parallel passages.)
Here, the theme is not vacation, but tribulation! For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be (Mark 13:19). These verses are all in the midst of Christs great Olivet Discourse, given in answer to the disciples urgent question: What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Matthew 24:3).
He is coming again, and He has, indeed, given many signs to alert us as to when it is near. In the next sentence after the words of our text, He said: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors (Mark 13:29).
The command is to know when His coming is near! Just as when the fig tree begins to produce leaves, we can know that summer is near, so now that His signs are being fulfilled (not only here in the Olivet Discourse but throughout His word), we can know He is coming soon. We must never try to set dates (in verse 32 He warns: of that day and that hour knoweth no man), but we need to watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is (Mark 13:33). There is a strong conviction everywhere in the Christian world today that summer is near and the Lord is at hand! Watch ye therefore. . . . Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping (Mark 13:35,36). HMM