There is one piece of evidence, rarely given the attention it deserves, that indicates that Jesus, on the night of his last supper with his disciples, knew that “the end is nigh” – either for him, or for history as a whole. He took a nazirite vow – foreswearing the fruit of the vine, not until he had done something or other, but until he partakes of it in the kingdom of God. Either he would not live to bring the vow to conclusion, or the kingdom would dawn that soon.
Jerome Murphy-O’Connor has suggested another piece of evidence: from Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, Jesus could have seen that a group of people was headed their way, and made his escape if he had wanted to. This seems plausible, except that the Gospels suggest that those who were supposed to be keeping watch while Jesus prayed fell asleep.
If Jesus said what the Gospels claimed, that some alive when he was would witness the kingdom’s dawn, then we know that Jesus expected the kingdom to arrive shortly. The question is whether Jesus thought he himself would live to see it, or rather thought that his death would somehow be instrumental in bringing it about.