Jesus is not referring to the end of the world
Jesus is discussing something that has been thoroughly misunderstood and misinterpreted by sectarian teachers and their institutions for thousands of years. This mass misinterpretation - which is rooted in this and other mistranslations - began in the early church teachings, and took hold as the Roman government decided to form the Roman Catholic church.
This institution was organized by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, in order to further control the Roman Empire by commandeering the interpretation of Jesus' teachings through the region.
So Constantine brought together the leaders of the various institutions around the Roman empire and formed a politically-driven committee - the First Council of Nicaea. This council voted on how to present Jesus' teachings to the public to gain the most followers. So they used a combination of scare tactics and interpretations forced upon followers under the threat of imprisonment or being burnt at the stake.
Part of the scare tactic was to interpret Jesus' teachings in such a way that would make it seem that Jesus was predicting the end of the world and that if people didn't join the church they would not be saved when the world ended.
End of the world predictions of the past have been wrong
Over the years, this "end of the world" interpretation led to many Christian sectarian teachers predicting the end of the world. And yet, some 2,000 years after Jesus said it - and after literally hundreds of "end of the world" dates have been predicted in the meantime by these sectarian teachers - the end of the world still has yet to come.
Here is a list of some of the sectarian teachers that erroneously predicted the end of the world - all of which were certainly wrong because we are still here:
Hilary of Poitiers: 365 AD (the date predicted)
Saint Martin of Tours: 375 to 400 AD
Sextus Julius Africanus: 500 AD
Gerard of Poehlde: 1147 AD
John of Toledo: 1179 AD
Joachim of Fiore: 1205 AD
Pope Innocent III: 1284 AD
Melchior Hoffman: 1533 AD
Benjamin Keach (Baptist): 1689 AD
William Whitson: 1736 AD
The Shakers (Ann Lee): 1792 AD
Charles Wesley (Methodist): 1794 AD
Margaret McDonald: 1830 AD
Joseph Smith (Mormon): 1832 and 1891 AD
William Miller (Millerites): 1843 and 1844 AD
Ellen White (Seven Day Adventists): 1850, 1856 and "early 1900s" AD
Mother Shipton: 1881 AD
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses): 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994 and others more recent.
Should we continue to believe in this misinterpretation?
So are we to continue to believe this "end of the world" interpretation of Jesus' statement some 2,000 years later? Are we still going to pretend that Jesus was warning his students - who also died nearly 2,000 years ago - that they were going to face the end of the world?
The reality is that this "end of the world" interpretation is a farce. It is an error, created and then continued by those who want to scare us into joining their sect.
Yes, it is true there will be disasters that will kill many people, and we might even cause the ruin of the human civilization - and the world as we know it might end. But this is not what Jesus is speaking of to his disciples some 2,000 years ago.
So what is Jesus referring to then?
We must understand that Jesus was teaching this to his students - about an event that would take place for each of them. Otherwise, why would he make such an effort to warn them?
Thus we must accept that whatever Jesus is speaking about has already taken place. At least for those students, Jesus was speaking to. So what is it?
Humm, let's see. What will be taking place in the era of Jesus' audience that could be compared with the flood of Noah? Or the destruction of Sodom? And what does this have to do with Lot's wife - and people on the roof trying to go down to get their possessions? Furthermore, what does it have to do with the "Son of Man" being revealed?
Think of what is common among the people who were "eating and drinking" in the days of Noah when the flood took place, and in Sodom. And for Lots' wife. What is it?
Death. People died. In these two cases - the flood of Noah and Sodom - lots of people died at the same time. And in the case of Lot's wife, she was told to not look back at the destruction but continue to flee - but she stopped and looked back. Then she died as a result.
And consider what would happen if a person were to be on one's rooftop (people during Jesus' era often had balconies on their roofs where they would sit) when their time to die occurred? Jesus is warning them that they shouldn't try to go down and get their possessions when this "day" happens.
In reality, the Greek word ἡμέρα (hēmera) can mean "day" or it can mean, according to Thayer's lexicon, "used of time in general."
Jesus is speaking of a particular moment in time. What is that moment in time?
It is the time of death.
Each of us - when that moment of death comes - will be leaving this physical body behind. During this moment in time, what occurred at the time of Noah's flood and in the fire's of Sodom - and for Lot's wife - will be precisely the same thing that will happen to each of us at the time of death.
At the time of death we will leave our physical body and everything in the material world. We will leave everything behind, in one fell swoop - as fast as a bolt of lightning lights up the sky - as Jesus puts it - we will leave this body in an instant. Whether we die from a flood or a fire or by some other form - we will be leaving the physical world. And for this reason, our attention should not be on what possessions we might have in our home. Because all will be left behind.
Jesus did not know precisely when the time of death would come for each of his students - or any of us. He likewise described this event using another analogy:
"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' " (Mark 13:32-37)Thus we find that not even Jesus knows when this time - this time of death - will come. We can see from Jesus' analogy here that Jesus was specifically warning his students to be watchful, as "the owner of the house will come back" at any moment. Why?
Because the time of death can happen at any moment - for every one of us. And at the time of death, we 'meet our Maker' - this is when we must face the Supreme Being and face how we lived our lives.
And it will come, for sure. Our bodies might die when we are least expecting it: In a plane crash. Or a car crash. Or a heart attack. Or a tornado. Or we might slip and fall.
But why is this moment of death connected with "revealing" the "Son of Man"? And if Jesus is speaking only of himself, why doesn't he say "me"?
Because Jesus is referring to a role.
Carefully considering the Greek, the word "Son of Man" - as discussed here - has a better translation of "Servant of Humanity." As also mentioned in that discussion, others have also been called "Son of Man" - Servant of Humanity - including David, Job and Ezekiel. Ezekiel was called the "son of man" [servant of humanity] over thirty times by the Supreme Being.
Jesus is speaking of God's representative. Someone who is sent to the earth to introduce us to the Supreme Being. This is what makes that person a servant to all of humanity - because they have the ability to save everyone.
Certainly, to Jesus' students, Jesus is the Servant of Humanity. But to Ezekiel's students, Ezekiel was the servant of humanity. To them, Ezekiel was their means to come to know the Supreme Being.
But to Jesus' students - those who accept Jesus as God's representative - Jesus was their means to come to know and love the Supreme Being.
This makes God's representative the person who will also guide the devoted person back to the spiritual realm at the time of death.
Where will we go at the time of death?
You see, when our bodies die, we leave them behind. We (our spirit-person) will rise (resurrect) up out of our body at the time of death. Once we release from the body, our next destination is determined.
Our next destination is determined by a combination of our consciousness and our past activities. Should we have used our life to renew our relationship with the Supreme Being, then we will have the opportunity to return to God in the spiritual realm.
But this opportunity does not come by our own power or even devotion. It comes by God's mercy. In other words, we must be escorted back to the spiritual realm by our spiritual guide - by God's representative.
This is why Jesus says:
"It will be just like this on the day [at the time] the Son of Man [Servant of Humanity] is revealed."God's representative will be revealed to each of us at the time of death. Even a person who has not followed their spiritual guide during their lifetime will still become aware of their position at the time of death.
Even if we did not follow, he will still be revealed to us at the time of death - as we are being directed to the place determined by the consequences of our activities during this physical lifetime.
Learn more about the time of death.
The reason Jesus is warning his students about the moment of death is that he wants them - and each of us - to prepare for the time of death. How do we do that? By following his teachings, the most important of which is to put our love upon the Supreme Being - with all our hearts:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)Where ever our love is placed - that's where we will go at the time of death.