As Jesus was leaving the temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various temple buildings. But he told them, “Do you see all these buildings? I assure you, they will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another!”
Later, Jesus sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and asked, “When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?”
Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come.
“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will lead many people astray. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come.
Do we hear his warnings? Or do we just assume he’s speaking to someone else? Perhaps we need to listen again; Kingdoms do not come painlessly.
For they assumed they were being told of vengeance falling on others, hearing of what was to be brought upon Jerusalem, as if they were to be free from this tribulation; they were dreaming only of good things for themselves, and looking for these to come upon them right away. Because of this, He again foretells to them calamitous things, making them earnest, and commanding them to keep watch for two reasons: that they not be seduced by the lies of those who would deceive them, nor to be overcome by the violent catastrophes that should overtake them.
—St. John Chrysostom (347-407), from Homily 75 on Matthew