Mark 13:1-13 1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
We all like to have the ideology that there must be good in this world. And there is. In spite of being born into a world cursed because of the original sin of Adam and Eve the goodness of God can still be seen in His kindness to all people- even to those who hate Him. But there is much darkness. There is much evil. The devil is real and the corruption of the human heart is real. There is death, sickness, disease, abuse, famines, wars, etc. As the disciples marveled at the Temple building in Jerusalem, days after Jesus had publicly revealed that He is indeed the Christ- the Savior of Israel as He entered into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, they were still under the impression that they would soon rule with Him. After all, Jesus had just defeated all those who opposed Him in a war of words in the Temple. Jesus had shown that He had a greater understanding of the Scriptures than the Pharisees, the Herodians, the Sadducees, and the scribes. It was only a matter of time in the eyes of His disciples when Jesus would rule from Jerusalem over Israel and they along with Him. They were afraid to be in Jerusalem as they knew that the religious leaders desired to kill Jesus and in turn themselves, but their fear still was overcome by the hope that, as they continued to follow Jesus, He would soon formally establish His Kingdom. And as Jesus began to rule, in the minds of His disciples, all His enemies would be defeated. All evil would be overthrown. Everything would be made perfect. Their ideology was the same as most people in our day- some day soon everything will be as it should be. We just need to hope beyond hope for the best. But this was not God’s plan of salvation. Jesus must die in order that we may be saved. He had to suffer the punishment that our sins deserve as the wrath of God the Father was to be poured out upon Him upon the cross. Without His suffering for me and for you, none of us could be saved from sin and know the forgiveness and fellowship of God. Without His death the darkness could not be overcome.
And so as the disciples were meditating on the greatness to come and how wonderful it would soon be too rule in the Temple alongside Jesus, they would have been shocked and confused by the declaration of Jesus that it would all be destroyed (which occurred in A.D. 70 when the Romans utterly destroyed all of Jerusalem in a silencing of the nuisance that the Jews had become to the Roman empire). Jesus had already declared to His disciples three times that He must die and rise again which they could not comprehend and now Jesus was also saying that the Temple itself would be destroyed. How confusing for the disciples.
As the disciples asked Jesus to explain further what He means by the destruction of the Temple, Jesus challenges them personally to beware of the opposition that they would yet face. Up to this point their walk with Jesus had been relatively easy. They had ultimately been protected and shielded by Jesus Himself. But soon it would become much more difficult. As Jesus would return to heaven following His resurrection in order to send the Holy Spirit to speak to them intimately through their inner man, they would have to face all the opposition in the world directly and without Him as their shield. There would be those who would rise up and try to deceive Christians to turn away from following Jesus Christ. There would be much evil in the world and opposition to the message that they would preach. There would be divisions in families and many people would hate them for being associated with Jesus Christ. And so Jesus calls them to endure to the end. It would all be worth it but much difficulty and struggle was yet to come.
How often do we look at the Christian life in the same way that the disciples did at this point? We like the idea that following Jesus is easy. We like the idea of the benefits of being in His Kingdom and the comforts and pleasures that may come from following Him. At the same time we block out the reality that there is a cross that we all are called to carry. We block out the reality that Jesus was led to a cross in His ministry as the consummation of His love to God the Father. We block out the truth that it will cost us dearly to follow Jesus. There is an evil in this world that is absolutely opposed to God. There is an enemy, the devil, who will do all that he can to destroy you and to destroy me as a follower of Jesus Christ. If you have come to a true place of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ you will have to endure to the end. It will not be easy to follow Jesus. There will be many people who will come against you. Many people whom you love will oppose you. They will not understand. They will hate you for being a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in verse 13, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” There is no easy road to heaven for the Christian. Sadly for many they are not willing to endure to the end. Sadly there are many who are not willing to suffer for His Name. But if you have truly tasted the love of Jesus Christ and have come to be consumed with Him, you will endure. You will carry on no matter how difficult the journey may be. The Holy Spirit within you will be your guide and give you the power and the strength to keep on getting up when you stumble and to stand up for Jesus even when it costs you dearly. You will prove that you love Him and He will be glorified in you and you will be made ready to receive your eternal reward!
Pastor Murray Hack