Sunday

18 November 2018

Mark 13:1-8

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’ (v 1)

Psalm: Psalm 16

Background

There’s something unsettling about spending time with Jesus – and that’s a good thing. Mind you, I sometimes feel sorry for the disciples when what may have been intended as a passing comment becomes a teaching opportunity.

We recently took a friend for her first visit to our nearest National Trust property and she spent much of the time saying, “This is beautiful!” I wonder should I have responded with a lecture on the oppression of working people who were forced to build the home and staff it.

Of course, the disciples’ response is very different from our friend. Their awe and wonder is because the temple has become the pinnacle of worship in their day. Nothing compares.

Jesus, sensing that the apparently immovable power of the temple and its priests may be getting to his friends’ hearts, warns against both structural authority and of falling for false power.

He needs them to hear and understand the eternal nature of the kingdom of God. That didn’t depend on buildings – and still doesn’t.

One of the questions that comes down to us from this is a challenge about which structures we put our faith in. Which of the latest ‘faith fads’ tempt us away from fixing our eyes on Jesus? How do we judge between the loud voices telling us to sign-up for their campaign? How does our faith inform our politics and our service to the community?

Let’s be clear here, Jesus isn’t offering a comfortable way out. He tells the disciples there will be wars and the posturing that could lead to conflict. There will be natural disasters.

Often these are the issues that cause people to question their faith, but he is reminding them that the dissatisfaction that ought to be in their hearts is a searching after the kingdom of God. Things can become eternally better even when the temporal structures around us are falling apart – as they will.

To Ponder:

  • What experiences tempt you to lose your hold on the kingdom?
  • How do we live Good News in a climate where the loudest voices seem to get more attention?

Bible notes author

The Revd Gareth Hill

Gareth Hill is a Methodist minister with a particular interest in pioneer ministry and fresh ways of being Church. He is​ in circuit ministry in the Winchester, Eastleigh & Romsey Circuit in the Southampton District and has pastoral charge of six churches in Romsey and on the edge of the New Forest.