Title: Lord, When?
Text: Mark 13
Introduction: Where in Mark 13 this morning. We’ll be working our way through the entire chapter. Do me a favor and bookmark Revelation 6, as well. You’ll want to follow along in the book of Revelation later in the message.
The context for our understanding within the greater purview of our passage is the Temple. Since Jesus got to Jerusalem, the stories have revolved around the Temple and around the religious leaders’ failure and abuse in their responsibilities concerning the Temple and God’s people. Jesus has established that what had been given to the priests would be taken away. They had failed to serve as mediators and instead, had used and abused the people for their own personal gain. His message was clear: The Temple would be destroyed, and a new system would be put into place, with the chief cornerstone being Jesus, himself, who will now serve as that mediator between God and man.
We begin in 13.1-2; So the context for chapter 13 is the destruction of the Temple; lit.: every stone being thrown down; rd 13.3a; Mount of Olives; as they looked over at the massive, beautiful Temple, it was hard for them to imagine just what that would be like. Something cataclysmic would have to happen. It must be the end of the world. These men could not imagine what Jesus had just said without it being the end of the world.
Read 13.3-4; Two Questions: When and What? Keywords: these things; If we go to Matthew 24, we’ll find the question outlined in such a way that it helps us organize the rest of the chapter. Rd 24.1-3; 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
So, with this question by the disciples, they’ve outlined what they want to know in three parts:
- The Destruction of the Temple
- The Son’s Return
- The end of the age
But Jesus, knows they don’t really understand, I suppose by the way they ask their question, but of course, he knows all things. So, we outline our message today as with the restructuring Jesus does in answering their question:
- The end of the age
- The Destruction of the Temple
- The Son’s Return
t.s.: So, let’s put these together under the title of “A multifaceted question”
I. A Multifaceted Question
Exp.: Jesus answers their question in a specific order. Why? To be fair, as these guys heard Jesus speak about the destruction of the Temple, they know about the destruction of the 1st Temple, Solomon’s Temple in 586 BC. And they knew of Jeremiah 9 and 11 and Micah 3, which foretold Solomon’s Temple’s Destruction. If that was the case, and this Temple, as magnificent as it was, was to be destroyed, then this must be the end of time.
Do you get this? You and I know the difference. Well, because of this teaching and 2,000 years of clarity. But these guys, they would have associated all the events together (the temple being destroyed, the fall of Jerusalem, the end of the world). It would have to be. Stones in the Temple would measure, 35’L x 11’H x 17’W. What cataclysmic event could remove those stones and cast them off of the mountain top? It must be the end of the world! So, Jesus clarifies for them. These events are not one and the same. That is to say: the destruction of the temple isn’t the end of the world. That will come later.
1a. A Multifaced Question answered: What and When and About
Exp.: So, to clarify, Jesus answers in an order that will help us understand the difference. So, what we see in our text is an answer for these three events:
First, The End Times – Jesus outlines the end times for them (rd v 5f):
- They say: I am he and lead many astray; the ‘anti-christ’ or evil men; military leaders; political leaders, religious leaders who will claim to be the anticipated Christ (rd 7,8a)
- Wars, rumor of wars; nation against nation, kingdom, etc. (rd 8b)
- Earthquakes, famine; I see this as natural disasters leading to famine; (rd 8c)
- These ‘things’ (a combination of all, i.e., Military Leaders, Wars, Famines, natural disasters) are the birthing pains. (8c) Really, in v 8, you see a combination of them all. But this combination isn’t the end, it is merely birthing pains. Read 9-13;
- Persecution arising from their witness and the Gospel; we haven’t seen this yet, but they’ll be commissioned to take the gospel to the nations, and when they do, they’ll suffer for it. If you recall, he’s been telling them this all along. They’ve been thinking of fame and fortune. Christ will ascend to the throne and they’ll all reap the benefits of having been faithful to follow him. But Christ has taught them that their faithfulness to follow him will not lead to fame and fortune, but rather to suffering. Think martyrdom; rd v 12 “to death”; verse 13 is a call to persevere;
Jesus now moves to the 2nd part of their question…
Second, When will ‘these things’ be? Rd v 14-20;
- Great Tribulation and the Destruction of the Temple: (14-23); you could call this ‘The Fall of Jerusalem and the Destruction of the Temple’. Consider this: Mark’s Gospel was written sometime between 55AD and 64AD (Evidence Peter was in Rome; cf.: 1 Cor); Mark was written sometime of up to 15 years before the Fall of Jerusalem and the Destruction of the Temple; if you take the latest possible date for this book and the earliest possible date for the Fall of Jerusalem, you’re talking about 3 years.
History has recorded for us that this information was used by the early church in Jerusalem and they took it seriously. When Jerusalem was attacked, the Christians were ready. Many of them fled as Jesus had warned and they were saved. The Fall of Jerusalem happened about 67AD and it was completed by 70AD when the Temple was utterly destroyed and tossed down the mountain. It was indeed horrible, as Jesus had warned.
This is why it is titled the Great Tribulation; Rd 20-22; (usage of the past tense is a prophetic way of declaring certainty); it seems to have come full circle from the beginning when we looked at evil, wicked leaders who lead people astray; BTW: it is during such suffering and tribulation that false messiahs arise. Think Hitler!
When will you return?
- The Return of the Son of Man (24-27); v 24 gives us the timing (those meaning the last days); rd 24-25; here is some sort of celestial event; we’re told in Genesis 1.14 that the heavens are for signs; rd 26-27;
So, what are they to do with this information? What are we to do with this information? Well, he gives us the lesson of the fig tree and the Man on a Journey.
- The lesson of the fig tree and a caution to be watchful (28-37); this last section could be divided into two sections.
2a. A Comparison of Mark 13 and Revelation 6&7
Exp.: before we leave this section, I think it is good to visit a time-honored tool for understanding a passage. We interpret Scripture with Scripture; What Jesus has done here is that he’s given us a template for understanding what is before us – and it matches what we find in Revelation. Keep your spot in Mark, and turn to Revelation 6.
Note: I was unable to insert the Table here. WordPress doesn’t transfer tables…
Summary: As we look at these things and we see that Mark 13.14-23 and we see the Fall of Jerusalem and The Destruction of the Temple. And, we call it The Great Tribulation; really, though, I think it has a double meaning – a double prophecy (for the Fall of Jerusalem and the end times, too).
Transition: We looked at the question posed by the disciples and the answers Jesus gave for clarification that the destruction of the Temple was not the end of time. That must mean that time would continue and that there would be an age between his first coming and his 2nd coming. We can look at more comparisons on Wednesday night, especially what the perspective, eschatological views are out there. And, how the seals and bowls match as well.
But, as we look at the future, how do we conduct ourselves and how are we to consider the future?
- A Caution against End Times Predictions (13.5, 32)
exp.: rd v5-6, 32; I find it interesting that some non-signs are: earthquakes, famines, wars, false messiahs, persecution. These things will happen leading up to the end, but they are not the end! The 1st thing Jesus does in Chapter 13 is to say you’ll see these things, but don’t be alarmed. This is not the end! These are events and tribulation that occurs in that ‘in between’ time.
ill.: Rd v 5; Caution:
- William Miller, October 22nd, 1844
- When I was in Tyler, there was this fellow named Harold Camping; he chose May 21st, 2011 And again, October 21st, 2011; However, that wasn’t his first false prophecy. He actually wrote and published a book entitled 1994, where he predicted Christ would return in mid-September 1994. As you know, Christ didn’t. But that didn’t stop Harold. He re-caculated the date for March 1995.
Rd v 6; there have been many who claimed to be Jesus and have led people astray. Do you guys know who David Koresh was? In a sect called the Branch Davidians, he claimed to be the final prophet. He led many astray and was responsible for the deaths of 76 people: including 25 children, two unborn children and Koresh, himself. In Tyler, TX, at the Memorial Cemetery off Hwy 64, there is a small memorial where he is buried. The cemetery doesn’t publicize it because it has been desecrated so many times. After a funeral service one day, I stopped into the main office and asked if I could see it. They know me there and led me right to it.
ill.: There was a stir back in the week of September 17th-23rd, 2017. A pastor in Tyler, of a very large church, cited the alignment of some big stars and planets. I have to say, I was intrigued! Was God doing something? It all started with a major Solar Eclipse on the 21st of August 2017. Stephen and I were up in Colorado climbing 14ers and decided to take a side trip up to Wyoming to the center of the eclipse. It was awesome!
But, as far as I know, nothing happened from all of that. Guess what? There is going to be two more: an annular (ring of fire) in October 2023 and a total eclipse in April (8th) 2024, just 6 months later. And you know what is even cooler. You won’t have to travel to Wyoming! Our church is in the path of both eclipses!
app.: Does that mean Jesus is coming back on those dates? No! Read v 32
t.s.: So, here is our concern: when will Christ return… let me close with this.
- A Call for Watchfulness (13.28-37)
exp.: with two lessons: The Lesson we learn from the fig tree And, the Man going on a journey. Jesus is calling on us to keep alert. I find it hilarious even, that Jesus says that not only does no human know the day or the time, not even he himself knows the day or the time (32).
Herein is the lesson: live your life – get married, have a family, work hard and be productive, and still, fulfill the mandate to share the gospel. There is supposed to be a suddenness to his return. And we’re not supposed to know when that is – it is designed to keep us on our toes, so to speak.
app.: I wonder if we knew the day and the time, would that keep us on our toes? Or would that cause us to be as we are – apathetic because we think we’ve got so much time? Hear the words of our Lord: Stay Awake! Be alert!
t.s.: So, what will we take home with us, today?
Conclusion: As I stand here today thinking of what I hope you’ll take with you as you walk away from these facilities today, I want you to know the following:
- People get ready! Jesus is coming! Soon we’ll be going home.
- If you’ve never surrendered you life to Christ, I urge you to do that right now. You have no idea if your life will end or if Jesus will return. Either way, when that happens, it will be too late! So, get that right today.
- Here’s what you can be sure of: Christ will return victorious. And for those of you who think I’m standing here a fool. That’s ok. Christ will come and vindicate his people. And I don’t look at that like: ha-ha, I told you. It breaks my heart to think of those who will miss out because of pride or selfishness. The Scripture teaches that one day – every knee will bow before him and confess that he is Lord. Why not do that in victory? I’m pleading with you not to do that in defeat – for then, it will be too late.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Let’s not grow weary in well-doing. Oh, I know you’re tired. I know the time seems to get long. Hang in there, my friend. The joy that awaits you is beyond what words can possibly describe.