Sunday 15 November 2015

Bible Book:

“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” (v. 4)

Mark 13:1-8 Sunday 15 November 2015

Psalm: Psalm 16


The disciples of Jesus came from small towns or the countryside,and so it is not surprising that they were impressed by the templein Jerusalem. Building had begun in 20 BC, but there is a hint inJohn's Gospel that it was still not complete 46 years later (John2:20). It was clearly an awesome place of worship in the timeof Jesus.

The response of Jesus to the question by his unnamed disciplewas to predict the destruction of the mighty building. This did infact take place in AD 70, and it is possible that the readers ofMark's Gospel would have lived through the destruction of the cityand would see the relevance of those comments. In the context ofchapter 13, they serve to lead into the longest sustained passageof teaching by Jesus in Mark's Gospel. Mark sets this on the Mountof Olives, which rises above Jerusalem and gives a panoramic viewof the city. As they looked down on the temple, could the disciplesever have imagined it as a pile of rubble?

Having made the disciples think with his comments, Jesus doesnot seem immediately to answer their question about when thedestruction of the temple might happen. Instead, he both warns andencourages them about the future. They are not to take any noticeof any false Messiahs who might lead them astray (verse 5). Falseprophets, like Simon Magus (Acts8:9-10), did indeed arise in the early days of the Christiancommunity. Furthermore, they are to recognise that wars,international tension and natural disasters are not in themselvesthe end of all things. Rather, they are described as the "birthpangs" (v. 8). The imagery of a woman in labour is used in the OldTestament as a symbol of the sufferings of the nation of Israel (Isaiah26:17; Hosea 13:13). That suffering, just as the painof childbirth leads to a new life, can have a positive conclusion.In the remainder of chapter 13, Jesus gives a vivid account of thesufferings and trials which will precede the last days.

To Ponder

  • How important to you are today's places of worship? How do theyhelp you in your Christian discipleship?
  • The disciples of Jesus and the first readers of Mark's Gospelwere aware of wars and natural disasters in the world, and saw theaction of God in them. How do you see such things from theperspective of Christian faith?
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