Jesus knew that the teaching had been very heavy, so He encourages the disciples by telling them that when they see these things “begin” to come to pass, they should look up and expect their soon deliverance. Then He gives a parable. When you see the fig tree putting forth leaves, then you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things starting to happen, you know that your deliverance is near and the establishment of the Kingdom will be soon. Luke records that He included reference to the leaves budding on all the trees. I know that many prophecy scholars equate the fig tree budding with the rebirth of Israel, but I personally don’t see this as the primary point being made here. The main reference is to the signs He has described as signaling His soon return.
Every account declares that the generation that sees these signs (including the abomination of desolation) will not pass until everything has been fulfilled. The context of Jesus’ teaching is His coming to establish His earthly kingdom. I think every teacher that tries to tie “this generation” to the birth of Israel because of the reference to the fig tree is making a mistake.
Jesus then tells the disciples that no man, or angel or even the Son (adds Mark) knows the day or hour that God has purposed for Jesus to return as King of kings. This was confusing to me until I realized that Jesus was referencing Himself at the time of His teaching. Scripture is clear that Christ came as a man—that he “made Himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7). The Greek for “reputation” emphasizes the truth that He emptied Himself; He lived in the flesh as a man. He lived in dependence upon the Spirit—just as we are supposed to. He didn’t cease being God; He just chose to live with the limitations of a man, albeit a sinless man indwelt by the Spirit—just as Adam was created and intended to live.