Scripture reading – Luke 21, Mark 13
We continue our parallel study of the Synoptic Gospels with today’s Scripture reading. Remember, the timeline for Luke 21 and Mark 13 is in the midst of the final week of Christ’s earthly ministry, and the Cross is imminent. Jesus has continued to teach in the Temple (Mark 13:1); however, our text gives us a window into a private conversation between the LORD and four disciples–Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3).
“Eschatology: The Doctrine of the Last Things” (Mark 13)
Jesus was preparing His disciples for events that would upset their expectations of an earthly kingdom over which He would reign. He 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 prophesied will follow the Great Tribulation (13:14-23), and is still future: The end of the world as we know it (13:24-31).
The balance of our devotional will focus on the conversation between Jesus and His disciples (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) Taking national pride in the Temple, the disciples were in essence, saying, “Look at the great stones that make up the Temple, and its beauty.” Jesus’ response shocked the disciples, for 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 stunned. To the Jews, the Temple was the holiest place on earth. They understood, if the Temple were destroyed, and reduced to a pile of rubble with not one stone upon another, then it would also mean the destruction of Jerusalem, and Israel.
Going out 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 (also the place where Abraham had offered his son Isaac).
Peter, James, John, and Andrew came privately to the LORD, and asked: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (13:4). Notice they did not ask, “Why must this Temple be destroyed?” or “How can we avoid the destruction of the Temple?” Instead, they asked, when shall these things be? What shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? (Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7)
Jesus’ did not answer the disciples’ question; instead, He challenged their focus, saying, “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 age would come, is God’s business. Jesus went on to teach 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, we are to “take heed lest any man deceive you” (13:5). In other words, be prepared for the coming of the LORD. How are we to prepare? We are to “take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (13:33).
Closing thoughts – Mark 13:33 exhorts 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 tasks God has given you; 3) “Pray,” constantly praying in anticipation of the LORD’s return. He has promised His return will be sudden, 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?
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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