Scripture reading – Mark 13
Today’s Scripture reading is Mark 13, and presents us with the doctrine known as “Eschatology: The Doctrine of the Last Things.” Remembering the setting of Mark 13 is the final week of Christ’s earthly ministry and foreshadows the Cross, we find Jesus preparing His disciples for events that will soon upset their expectations of an imminent earthly kingdom.
Jesus foretold two catastrophic events in Mark 13. The first, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in the disciples’ generation. A generation being 40 years, that prediction did come true in 70 AD when Rome conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple (Mark 13:3-8, 14-21, 28-31). The second calamitous event will follow the Great Tribulation (13:14-23) and is still future: The end of the world system (13:24-31).
The balance of today’s devotional focuses on a private conversation between Jesus and four of His disciples: “Peter and James and John and Andrew” (13:3).
As Jesus departed the Temple, the disciples said to Him, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” (13:1) In essence, taking national pride in the Temple, the disciples were saying, “Look at the great stones that make up the Temple, and its beauty.”
Jesus’s response shocked His disciples, when He answered their boasts saying, “Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (13:2).
The disciples were astonished by Jesus’ prophecy. To the Jewish people, the Temple was the holiest place on earth. They realized, if the Temple were destroyed, and reduced to a pile of rubble with not one stone left in its place, then it would also mean the destruction of Jerusalem, and Israel.
Going out of the eastern gate of the city, Jesus ascended the Mount of Olives, and sat down (13:4). Looking to the west He could see the Temple on Mount Moriah, the highest peak of the city, and the place where Abraham had offered his son Isaac.
Stunned by Jesus’ words, four of His disciples approached Him and asked two questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (13:4).
Notice the four did not ask, “Why must this Temple be destroyed?” or “How can we avoid the destruction of the Temple?” Instead, the disciples questioned, When shall these things be? What shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
Jesus’s answer revealed where or on what, He desired His disciples to focus: “Take heed lest any man deceive you” (13:5).
“When?”, was not to be the concern of His disciples or followers. The date and hour when the Temple would be destroyed, or the end of the world would come, was and is God’s business. Jesus taught His disciples, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (13:32).
The believer’s role is not to predict the day or the hour the Lord will return. Instead, “Take heed lest any man deceive you” (13:5). Be prepared for the coming of the LORD: “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (13:33).
Mark 13:33 is rich in its exhortation to believers: 1) “Take ye heed,” keep your eyes fixed, for you cannot know when the LORD is coming; 2) “Watch,” stay awake, be vigilant, be busy with the tasks God has given you; 3) “Pray,” constantly praying in anticipation of the LORD’S return. His return will be sudden, and unexpected, “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
Revelation 3:3 – Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Are you ready for His coming?
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith