And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, ” See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
The disciples must have been full of questions. And here are two such: ‘When will it all happen?’ and ‘How shall we know in advance?’ Today also men have such questions about the future.
Here and in the rest of this chapter Yeshu begins to give answers to these and also to other questions. But nowhere does he give to either the disciples or us such foreknowledge as they ask. Indeed, in these verses he does not even give an answer about the temple’s destruction; that answer seems to be given later in verses 14 onwards. Instead he warns them against believing two kinds of sign: 1. Those men who will make claim to be the Messiah coming again.. 2. The claim that great upheavals, like a world war or the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, are a sign of the end of the world and God’s judgment day.
Yeshu says, ‘Yes, many will make such claims; and there will be many more such disasters, but they will serve only as the painful foretaste of the coming end.’