(23) Don’t fall for fake messiahs. (24) There will be lots of them, complete with fancy tricks. But you know me. Don’t fall for it. (25) Don’t forget I told you this. (26) Don’t follow them to look for me hiding in a cave or basement. (27) You don’t need anyone to tell you where lightning is, because it brightens up the whole sky. Likewise, you won’t need anyone to tell you the Son of Man has come to begin exercising his rule over all things. When the destruction I have prophesied comes to pass, everyone will see it. (28) A hovering flock of vultures is visible to everyone. No one needs to be told about the corpse on the ground beneath them.
(29) In the wake of all this carnage, everything will fall to pieces. Chaos galore! Kings will fall. Society will break down. Thrones will fail. The powers will be shaken to their foundations. (30) When this prophecy comes to pass, everyone will see me vindicated over my enemies. They will see that I truly am what Daniel prophesied — the true Son of Man, now come to heaven to rule at the right hand of the Ancient of Days. They will weep. My enemies in Israel will see what Egypt saw [Isa 19.1] — The Son of Man making war on them from above, bringing their dark schemes to utter annihilation. (31) His messengers will spread out to all corners of the earth, and their proclamation will gather Papa’s children to his arms.
(32) When you see buds on the fig trees. you know summer’s almost here. (33) Likewise, when you guys see these signs, you know my coming is about to arrive. (34) Of the people alive right now, some of them will live to see this happen. This will be the proof for the whole world that I am a true prophet. (35) My word is reliable in ways unlike anything you have ever seen. The fulfillment of this word will be my vindication.
(36) Your generation–the people alive right now–will see this day, but none of us knows the timing any more precisely than that. Not you, not even me or the angels. Only Papa knows. (37) On the day the Son of man is vindicated and his enemies are destroyed, it will be like the day of Noah’s flood. (38) People were going on with their everyday lives right up until the day Noah boarded his boat. (39) It was completely unexpected when the flood came and took them to their destruction. It will be just like that on the day when the Son of Man comes to the throne in heaven and begins to exercise his rule over the world. (40) It will be unpredictable, this flood of violence that is coming. Two men will be working in the field, and the flood will take one but not the other. (41) Two women will be working in the kitchen; one will be swept away and the other will be left.
(42) Here’s the point: Stay awake, because you will not see it coming if you’re not paying attention to the sign I told you about. (43) If a thief told you when he was going to break into your house, you would stay awake and protect your house. (44) In the same way, you need to stay awake and watch for the sign. For that day will come when you’re least expecting it.
(45) Think of it like this: The master chose one servant to be in charge of the other servants, to take care of them and keep them fed. He blessed one servant so that the other servants would be blessed through him. (46) How wonderful for that servant if the master were to arrive on the scene to see him faithfully doing his job! (47) The master would promote him on the spot. (48) But what is the master to do when he finds the servant (49) abusing those he was meant to bless, growing fat while the other servants starve? (50) When that servant least expects it, the master will arrive on the scene to right those wrongs. (51) He will fully expose the wicked servant as his enemy. The bitter truth will be told, the truth that is the only hope for both the oppressed AND the oppressor.
Verse 30: The “Coming of the Son of Man” is a reference to a vision recorded in Daniel, wherein he saw the Son of Man coming from earth to heaven and sitting at Yahweh’s right hand. Note that it is an “upward” movement, not a “downward” one. The Greek word for “coming” (erkomai) can be used to indicate both coming and going. To interpret this as a description of the Second Coming is biblically inaccurate. When Israel saw the Son of Man coming on the clouds, they were experiencing what Egypt experienced–destruction. Egypt did not literally see Jesus galavanting in the sky, and neither did Israel when this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. Also, “stars falling from the sky,” etc are used all over the Bible to describe political chaos, and that is exactly what happened in 70 A.D.
Again, for some good scholarship on this, I recommend N.T. Wright’s SURPRISED BY HOPE.