September 21, 2014
Mark: God’s Servant
The Future Revealed
(Advance Slide #1)
Two weeks ago in our text Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.
(Advance Slide #2)
- He triumphantly entered the Holy City.
- His authority was challenged, and He was questioned by the Sadducees.
- And He warned against the pride of the scribes and the Pharisees.
- Jesus ended this chapter with a lesson by a widow offering everything!
(Advance Slide #3)
As Jesus walked and taught around Jerusalem the Temple loomed in the background
- The Jews were proud of their temple.
- The Jewish leaders had defiled it; Jesus would depart from it and leave it desolate (Matt. 23:38); the Romans would destroy it.
Jesus’ warning against the destruction this ‘holy monument’ shocked those that heard it!
(Advance Slide #4)
1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Mark 13:1-2
The text that we will study today begins with a double question following these verses.
(Advance Slide #5)
- “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”
- The question was concerning Herod’s temple.
- Still lacking it’s original splendor in the days of Jesus it was concerned the most beautiful building in the world.
- For sure it was the largest and could be seen from a great distance.
As the disciples gaze upon the beauty of this temple Jesus shocks them!
- He predicts that this massive, beautiful structure will soon be destroyed.
- They naturally want to know when this is going to happen.
(Advance Slide #6)
Many read this chapter as an ‘end of the world’ chapter.
- Jesus will use cosmic language talking about the future.
- This should not leads us to a large scale future predictions.
- The main subject remains the fate of the Temple in Jerusalem—and of Jesus’ followers in the time leading up to the Temple’s demise.
(Advance Slide #7)
Preparing the Answer - vs. 3-13
Jesus prepares His disciples for the answer He is about to give concerning the Temple.
- They are assuming a great catastrophe will destroy the temple, and before that His followers will be at risk.
- The truth is that they WILL FACE what He has faced and what He will shortly face.
- He needs them to continue on after He’s gone.
- Because of this He does not want them to become scared:
(Advance Slide #8)
- At the rumors of wars that might start.
- Neither will an earthquake in one place necessarily mean that another one is about to strike Jerusalem.
Jesus’ uses this to again teach them about patience.
- False teachers, frightening rumours and natural disasters will all tempt them to panic.
(Advance Slide #9)
“These are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
- The picture of birthpangs had been used for centuries by Jews as they reflected on the way in which, as they believed, their God was intending to bring to birth his new world of peace mercy and truth.
- From the great prophets through the Jewish writer of Jesus age...they wrote of this hope.
The particular crisis would take place in 70 AD.
- However, His warning to His followers was still important.
- The hatred towards Christians would be felt by the vicious persecution by Nero.
- The history of the church will show that the warning was necessary.
What about us?
(Advance Slide #10)
- Jesus told us we would need patience to hold on and see the thing through.
- We should not be surprised if we are called, through whatever circumstances, to practice this ‘fruit’.
(Advance Slide #11)
“Let the Reader Understand” - vs. 14-27
Have you ever seen a movie, read a book, or heard music you couldn’t understand?
- It’s not until you understand the backstory before you understand the meaning.
- This is the same problem here in Mark 13.
- Mark’s writings are so obscure that he adds the note “Let the reader understand.”
** REMEMBER - what we’ve just covered
In vs. 14 there is a change of mood.
- Up to this point they are to stand firm, but there is going to be a time when they need to run!
- The disaster will make all the previous woes of the world, and all that will ever be, look tame.
What is Jesus talking about?...What sign?
- We have historical hindsight, so we know that this is when foreign armies will take over the temple.
- The historian Josephus wrote of the horrible scene that took place.
- As the Romans invaded Jews were even killing Jews!
(Advance Slide #12)
- The sign is “the abomination of desolation.”
- The text behind this is Daniel 11:31 and 12:11.
- It speaks of pagan armies invading Jerusalem, stopping the regular sacrifices in the Temple, and setting up instead ‘a desolating abomination’.
- Josephus also writes that there were would-be messiahs and prophets promising signs and wonders but nothing happened.
The fall of the Temple would be the sure sign that God had vindicated Jesus as the true representative of His people.
- Now Mark gives a final echo from Daniel 7:13.
- This text is about triumph and vindication, and about simultaneous judgment falling on the system that has opposed God’s call and God’s gospel.
- From Mark’s point of view, it is about the complete vindication of Jesus.
- His resurrection, his ascension, and the outworking of his prophecies against the Temple as sealing the whole process.
Is there a message for us?
(Advance Slide #13)
- Where human societies and institutions set themselves up against the gospel and its standards, there is a place for God’s people to denounce and to warn!
- If we do not find ourselves in that position, we should be grateful; but we should remember to pray for those who do.
(Advance Slide #14)
Watching and Waiting - vs. 28-37
Unlike the fig tree two chapters earlier, which suffered from having leaves but no figs, Jesus now uses the image of a fig tree in leaf.
- This signals that summer is almost here, and is an illustration of how His hearers are to react.
- Watch for crucial events in the Holy City.
Jesus seems to be clear that these events will take place within a generation.
- The generation that rejects His message must be the generation upon whom the end will fall.
- This warning is backed up with one of Jesus’ most solemn assurances…
(Advance Slide #15)
- “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus doesn’t even know the exact hour, but the Father does!
- Jesus knows a great deal, but He doesn’t know this detail.
- The command from Jesus is not to sit down and come up with a time table.
(Advance Slide #16)
- It’s, “Be on guard, keep awake.”
- The 2st cent. Christians were not encouraged to to settle down and assimilate itself either to the Jewish or the pagan world.
- It must constantly remind itself that great events are happening.
- Paul’s writing also echo this need to be alert.
What does this mean for us?
- For us, who look back on the events of 70 AD as a distant tragedy, a historical event?
- We should absorb this as a significance of the moment in history when this great transition took place.
- Christians increasingly need to realize that unless we understand the first century we will not understand our own times...
- Or what sort of people we ourselves are called to be.
The judgment that fell on the Temple was a small portion of the judgment that will fall on the whole world.
(Advance Slide #17)
- There will be a final judgement.
- This time there are to be no signs, and no advance warnings.
- Just the ongoing command to God’s people in Christ to be faithful to Him.
- To not to compromise with the standards and fashions of the present age.
- To keep awake, watching, and working.