A ReMARKable Life Series

·        The gospel of Mark is a short, action-packed book that focuses on how Jesus Christ is the Messiah for every man, woman, and child. Christ – fully man, fully God. But Jesus wasn't the rescuer God's people had imagined, and many didn't recognize Jesus as their answer to prayer. We, too, can miss out on what God wants for us if we're only looking for answers that fit our expectations. Join us for this series as we explore Jesus' heart for people and we can change the world by serving one person at a time and helping them connect with God.

11.  Building A Legacy that Lasts (Mark 13:1-37)

·        As the time approaches for Jesus’ crucifixion, He speaks to peter, James, John and Andrew about the fall of Jerusalem, about the events in the future days, an about his return to earth in glory. He warns the disciples (and hence He warns us) to be alert and watchful to what will happen regarding the coming of His kingdom. 

Sermon Preparation Guide

·        Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?

·        Jesus is Lord of the present and the future. (Mark 13:2, 13, 2326 & 27, 31)

·        God's judgment will be meted out on all who reject the Messiah. (Mark 13:14-23)

·        God cares for, strengthens, and delivers those who believe in Jesus, and Jesus will reign in glory in the end. (Mark 13:11, 13, 20, 27)

·        Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?

·        What is the application to your life that Jesus is Lord of the present and the future? 

·        Why does God mete out His judgment?  

·        What does it mean to you that God cares for, strengthens and delivers you in the face of suffering and dire circumstances?     

Talk it Over Discussion Guide

·        Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?

·       What were the 4 disciples thinking about when they commented to Jesus about the Temple?

·       Why did Jesus respond to the comment with a discourse about the future days?

·       Describe what the future days will bring.  Why is the outlook so bleak?

·       What does the bleakness of the future days say about the world's response to Jesus and their answer to His question “Who do you say that I am?”

·       How will the Holy Spirit help in times of testing?

·       Who are the elect? (Mark 13:20 & 27)

·       What does it mean that Jesus' words will never pass away?

·       Why did Jesus say, “Be on your guard” (Mark 13:9, 23)?

·       How are Jesus' followers to “keep watch” and “be on the alert?”

·       What is the impact on the world when Jesus comes back in His glory? 

·        Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?

·       Do you ever find yourself focusing on the wonder of the church and its programs instead of focusing on Jesus?

·       What is your view of the future?  What is your place and your responsibility in the world in the days ahead?

·       Did Jesus promise that we are to be protected from future suffering?

·       What did Jesus promise us in the midst of suffering? 

·       How can you “stand firm to the end?” (Mark 13:13)

·       What are things that you should be watching for in terms of the future days?

·       How should you be carrying on your life in the days and years ahead no matter what happens?

·       Why should you be thankful that Jesus gave us the warnings about the future in this chapter?

·       What is the message we should be sharing with others in light of this chapter?

Sermon Teaching Notes  (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)

·        Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?

            Jesus has been teaching in the Temple the entire day, and in so doing, the religious authorities have stopped even asking Him questions and He had disarmed them at every turn with His incisive and telling answers (Mark 12:34).  He has pointed out the hypocrisy of the religious authorities (Mark 12:38-39), and made an object lesson about giving from observing a poor widow putting money into the Temple treasury (Mark 12:41-44).  It was time to leave Jerusalem again for the night, and as He left the city with the 12, an observation about the grandeur of the Temple by one of His disciples (Mark 13:1) led Jesus to speak to them about the future. 

            The Temple in Jesus’ day was truly an architectural wonder of massive size.  Herod the Great began rebuilding the Temple in 20BC, and construction was constant even into the days of this text in Mark and beyond (in fact, up to 64AD).  There was a huge courtyard outside the Temple measuring approximately 1200’ by 1500’, and then there was the Temple proper with additional porticos and other courts flanked by colonnades.  The courtyard was erected on a platform that was supported by a huge retaining wall made with stones some 10-12’ long.  Much of the surface of the Temple was overlaid with gold, and many of the stones were white, such that in the sunshine, the buildings glistened and shone.  The platform on which the courtyard was erected was some 200’ above the Kidron Valley which ran to the east of the city, and the entire Temple complex covered some one-sixth of the entire area of Jerusalem.  So when one of the disciples commented on the wonderful stones and the wonderful buildings (Mark 13:1), he was not exaggerating in the least.  Perhaps the disciple was expecting Jesus to reply with confirmation of the greatness of the Temple; however, Jesus responded with an amazing prophecy, namely that the entire structure would be destroyed, and not one stone would be left (Mark 13:2).  Remarkable!  It seems a fair inference that the disciples were dumbfounded as there is no recorded conversation with Jesus until they reached the Mount of Olives which was east of the city, and from which the Temple was in full view with all its “grandeur.”  In fact, as Jesus was sitting on the mount, likely looking at the Temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew (the first four disciples He called – Mark 1:16-20) came to Him and it is clear they had been thinking, if not talking, about what Jesus had said as they asked Him basically two questions: When would these things happen? And What are the signs of these things being fulfilled?  Matthew’s gospel records the second question as referring to the end times, specifically, “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)  So these four disciples understood what Jesus had told them as having to do with the end times, it being part of Jewish thought in that day that the destruction of the Temple was part of the events of the end and the coming of the Kingdom of God.  They were thus thinking in terms of the restoration of Israel in the future, and the setting up of the reign of the Messiah, and in this sense, were still not grasping the suffering and death of Jesus that was to come.

            Nevertheless, Jesus proceeds to answer the “What” question of the four disciples, though not the “When” question (Mark 13:32).  In his response, Jesus focuses on the reality of coming judgment, warnings of what is to come, the opportunity for and responsibility of witnessing to the gospel, the call to watchfulness and faithful living, and the encouragement of ultimate victory.  Also Jesus’ response contains double and even triple layers of meaning, a fact that must be kept in mind when reviewing and studying the verses in this chapter 13.  There is reference to what has happened in the past (the desecration of the altar in the Temple in 167BC), what will happen in the nearer future (the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70AD), and what will happen in the end days (when Jesus will return).  In speaking of these things, the picture Jesus gives is bleak, involves celestial disturbances (Mark 13:24 & 25), will be full of suffering, difficulty and destruction, and it involves not only those in Jerusalem but people the world over.  The picture is particularly bleak for those who follow Jesus as it includes not only difficulties common to all people (e.g., wars, disruptive national politics, earthquakes and famines – Mark 13:7 & 8), but suffering and dire circumstances particular to believers (deliverance to ruling councils, beatings, trials, family disruption, hatred, death, temptation to be led astray – Mark 13:9-13, 22).  In short, Jesus told the four disciples that there will be terrible times ahead.  He didn't specify which things related to the Romans and the destruction of the Temple and which related to the end time.  It appears that some things He said related to both, and other things to one or the other.  That He was not speaking in abstract terms, but of a future reality, He added that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” (Mark 13:30) which refers to the nearer events that would culminate in the destruction of the Temple in 70AD as surely such statement cannot refer to the “Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26) as that clearly refers to the end times. 

            All in all, this bleak picture underscores the reality of God's judgment against sin and the rejection of His Messiah, but also His judgment of Israel for her disobedience and rejection of the Messiah.  Part of that latter judgment is that the center and focus of Judaism, namely the Temple, will be wiped away; Temple worship had been abused, and the religious authorities had misused their power and misled the people.  God was not to be “contained” in the Temple; His rule and His plan to make a people for Himself extends beyond the Jewish people and includes people from all nations (Mark 13:10, 27).  Moreover, as we know from later Scripture, God dwells within each believer, and His people (the Church) is His Temple (I Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:19-22; Colossians 1:27).  As a result of God's judgment, and the hatred of the Messiah as well as of the Jewish people, many will die, flee from impending doom and destruction, and face great tribulation.  In describing these things, Jesus admonished that His followers be warned, be on guard, and pay attention to the times and the circumstances (Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 33, 35-37).  Why the warning?  He said these things so that His followers will not be surprised by God's coming judgment, will be ready to stand firm against opposition, will not be fooled by false claims of those who purport to speak for and perhaps even claim to be the Messiah, and will not be alarmed.  But He also said these things so His followers will be encouraged that God's will is being accomplished, that He will be present with them and will help and strengthen them (Mark 13:11, 13b, 22, 29, 31), and that ultimately He will have victory and be exalted (Mark 13:27 & 27) and will save His people (Mark 13:12b, 27).  But He also said that in the midst of all the tribulation, His people are to continue to witness to the gospel, and will even be given the words to say on occasions. (Mark 13:9-11)  By saying thus, Jesus was (again) predicting His resurrection as the preaching of the gospel in the future presumes His resurrection as does His return in glory (Mark 13:10, 26) as the Son of Man (cf. Daniel 7:13).  

            Interestingly, in the midst of His discourse, Jesus refers to the “abomination of desolation” (Mark 13:14) which is a clear reference to the prophesies of Daniel 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11 which were fulfilled (in part) by the profaning of the altar of the Temple by Antiochus in 167BC, which led to the Maccabean revolution, but would be fulfilled by the Romans in the Jewish wars from 66-70AD, and will be fulfilled in the end times.  In such days, the situation will be so desperate that running is the only thing to do.  This in fact occurred when the Romans began to press in on Jerusalem beginning in 66AD; people literally fled to the mountains without even their cloaks.  In the final months leading up to the destruction of the Temple in 70AD, it is estimated that some 600,000 Jews were killed.  The Temple itself was torn down, burned and totally destroyed such that there are no remnants of the Temple remaining.

            So, to whom was Jesus addressing His words of warning and admonition?  Of course to Peter, James, John and Andrew.  But also to the other disciples (Mark 13:37), and, through them, to all who follow Him.  His words are true (Mark 13:30) and will not pass away (Mark 13:31); we can count on them, just as we can count on Him to save us.  Our responsibility is to follow Jesus, to be His witnesses, to stand firm in our faith and to trust His word in everything.  That message would have been particularly comforting to those in Rome who were already, in Mark's time, suffering for their faith.  To them, and to us, the message is that God reigns, that His Messiah, Jesus, is the Savior, and that the Messiah will return in His glory, with no mystery about who He is.  As the events were coming closer to the hour of Jesus' death, His words are apropos in that they look ahead to the victory that He is about to purchase on the cross, and to the time in the future when He will show the world that He truly is the King of kings and Lord of Lords, all to the glory of the Father.  So, His question, “who do you say that I am?” continues to be the most important question anyone can answer.  And it is the job of His followers to proclaim the answer that He is the Messiah and Savior of all who come to Him in repentance.  In the meantime, we all need to watch, to be ready, and to abide in Him.  And we are not to worry about timing, and about when future events will take place.  In our waiting, we are to live in the present for Him as His light in the midst of darkness, confident in the fact that the future is solidly in God's hands and under His sovereign control, and expectant that one day we will be with Him forever for He has promised that. (Mark 13:13, 20b, 27)