25 April 2015Mark 13:5-13
“When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.” (v. 7)
Psalm: Psalm 148
In these verses Jesus talks to his disciples about what the future will be like for them as his followers and how they will be helped to cope. It is part of a longer passage in which Jesus gives his final teachings and encouragements, knowing that he will not be with them for much longer. Not long after this he is arrested and crucified.
This passage is sometimes referred to as the 'Little Apocalypse' because it talks about the end times and looks towards the time of Jesus' return. The passage describes difficult days ahead but also gives hope with its strong 'do not worry' message.
By the time that Mark's Gospel had been written (between AD65-75) some of the events predicted by Jesus had already happened or were happening.
The Jews were looking for God's promised Messiah and there were those who made this claim for themselves. They were also looking for the end times, the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord was pictured in the Hebrew Bible as being accompanied by wars and earth quakes etc. Jesus was concerned that when he was no longer with them, his disciples would interpret all these happenings as being the signs of his return and the end of time. He tells them that when these things happen, and happen they will, it is only the 'beginning of the end'. The disciples are not to worry about these things.
It is worth noting that the list of events in verses 7 and 8 would not be exclusive to believers. All people would suffer under these circumstances.
Verses 9 to 13 however, describe suffering that believers will undergo for their faith. Again they are told not to worry. They are promised the help of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them and allow them to witness, even under persecution.
- In this passage there is no 'if' about suffering for their faith, it is 'when'. As believers we are told that we must "take up [our] cross" (Luke 9:23). How do you feel about this?
- Have you had difficulties with loved ones because of your faith?
- Where have you found hope in difficult times?
Bible notes' author: The Revd Ros Watson