18 November 2012

Mark 13:1-8

"This is but the beginning of the birth pangs." (v. 8)


I was very thankful when my two children were born.Unlike when I was born, Fathers are now encouraged to be at the birth. What a wonderful experience on both occasions. I have never been at the birth of anyone else's children: my experience is limited to my own close family. How different to the time of Jesus, when in the ordinary world of the ancient Middle East, a good deal of intimate family life goes on in a semi-public world. Everyone knows everyone else's business; children grow up knowing by direct contact the way babies are born and the pain it takes for a woman to give birth.

In today's passage as Jesus and the disciples left the temple, they commented upon its magnificence (verse 1). Herod's temple was famous. It was a wonderful building, and yet Jesus speaks of its destruction (verse 2). The disciples are disturbed. They ask when it is to take place (verse 4). The disciples assume that something catastrophic will cause the temple to be destroyed. But Jesus knows that he will not be with his disciples for much longer. And they will face what he's about to face because they are his followers (verses 5-8). Many Christians today face persecution as severe as the early Church: just as giving birth is painful, so following Jesus today can also be painful.

To Ponder

  • Try to recall a painful experience you have had. What did it feel like?
  • Following Jesus can at times be difficult. Name a time when it has been like that for you.
  • Following Jesus can also be a joy. Name a time when it has been joyful for you.

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Teal

Richard Teal is a Methodist minister currently serving as chair of the Cumbria Methodist District. He has a deep interest in ecumenical relationships, Church growth and liturgy.