Sunday’s Gospel reading is from Mark 13:1-8 (sections 139a vs 1-4; and 139b vs 5-13). As with the last few weeks, the reading is part of Phase 5 in the Harmony of the Gospels. Today’s reading falls on what would have been the Tuesday before his crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. Oddly enough this passage is not appointed to read on Holy Tuesday, but the Word of God does not return void, no matter when it is read. Jesus’ apocalyptic discourse urges every reader and disciple to choose this day, and this very moment whom we shall serve, worship, and abide.
Section 139a | Setting of the Discourse
1 Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way. His disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them,“You see all of these things, don’t you? Most certainly I tell you, there will not be left here one stone on another, that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”
1 As he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, see what kind of stones and what kind of buildings!”1 2 Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone on another, which will not be thrown down.”2 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? 3 What is the sign that these things are all about to be fulfilled?”4
5 As some were talking about the temple and how it was decorated with beautiful stones and gifts, he said, 6 “As for these things which you see, the days will come, in which there will not be left here one stone on another that will not be thrown down.”
7 They asked him, “Teacher, so when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are about to happen?”5
Section 139b | Beginning of Birth Pains
4 Jesus answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren’t troubled, for all this must happen, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. 8 But all these things are the beginning of birth pains.
9 Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name’s sake. 10 Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another.
11 Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. 12 Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end will be saved. 14 This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
5 Jesus, answering, began to tell them,“Be careful that no one leads you astray. 6 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and will lead many astray. 7 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be troubled. For those must happen, 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 and troubles. These things are the beginning of birth pains.
9 But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them.
10 The Good News must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 13 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake,
but he who endures to the end will be saved.
8 He said, “Watch out that you don’t get led astray, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is at hand.’ Therefore don’t follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and disturbances, don’t be terrified, for these things must happen first, but the end won’t come immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines, and plagues in various places. There will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 It will turn out as a testimony for you.
14 Settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to withstand or to contradict. 16 You will be handed over even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will cause some of you to be put to death. 17 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake. 18 And not a hair of your head will perish. 19 “By your endurance you will win your lives.
Collect for this Sunday: Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect for Holy Tuesday: Almighty ever-living God, who as an example of humility for the human race to follow caused our savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross, graciously grant that we may head his lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
- How often do we demand that Jesus answer and act according to our schedule, agenda, or convenience?
- In what situations do you find yourself most frustrated and even demanding of God?
- Have you been led astray by poor teaching and blind obedience in the past? What did it take to get back on track?
Life is something we learn about through its peak moments of deep pain and great joy. All the rest of the time we spend trying to assimilate both, to make sense of them, to make ourselves capable of both. Choose to take your questions to God and rest in the assurance of his sovereignty, rather than having a questioning spirit.
- Two Temples were constructed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. King Solomon built the First Temple (833-827BC) following the detailed plans God had revealed to King David. In 555 BCE the Assyrians captured Samaria and the Kingdom of Israel came to an end, though the Kingdom of Judah survived. In 463BC the prophet Jeremiah warned the Jewish people to stop worshiping the Assyrian idols but most most or ignored his writings. From 434-425 the region was embroiled in political battles, and finally in the first temple fell (read more). The Second Temple, on which they were gazing that day, was built in the first century BC under the leadership of King Herod the Roman appointed to rule Judah. It came to the same ruin, being destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., following the failure of the Great Revolt.
- Jesus’ words would have resonated within the minds of any of his listeners who had studies the Scriptures, or listened to the Sabbath readings as they were reminiscent of Micah 3:12, Jeremiah 26:18, 2 Chronicles 7:20-21, 1 Kings 9:7-8. Even Psalm 118:22, originally sung in honor of King David who was disregarded because of his stature, but appointed by God to be king, now sounds out a faint chorus as Jesus, King of kings, approaches his destiny. Their anxiety was echoed again in Acts 4:11, 6:14.
- Jesus answers the question in vs 4 in verses 10-14 which are not officially a part of today’s reading
- Apocalyptic literally revelation, but it’s generated by oppression, such as the songs of the south, such as “Swing low” and ___. Like reisstance literature, they can’t talk openly about that which concerns them so it’s meaning is encoded in metaphor and visions. A prime example of this is the book of Daniel inspired in the context of the oppression during the reign of the Seleucid Empire. Both perspectives are eschatological, in the sense that there is the expectation of a future. Prophetic eschatology, is the voice and expectation is that God will work within human history to accomplish his purposes for humanity, but it hones in on the impeding problem being sin and unfaithfulness of God’s people. Therefore it warns people to repent, sin no more, and put on righteousness. Whereas Apocalyptic eschatology focuses in on what happens later, and God’s imminent actions when people fail to repent and live godly lives which usually involve destruction of people, places, and nations. The rise of Apocalyptic eschatology took place during the Assyrian dominance in the eighth century BC, as the people of God began to express the coming justice which would free the people of God and foil the cause of their foes. The religious leaders in Jesus day still wanted such vengeance, and justice, but Jesus emphasized justice and righteousness, not rebellion against the current Roman forces now governing Israel.
- The Emotivational Theory suggests the healthiest mental exercise to take when suffering trauma, unknown, oppression, threats is to focus on the corresponding emotivational needs that are ours “In-Christ”, both now and eternally: safety and destiny, which in time will yield: peace, tranquility, assurance; and integrity, resiliency, and humility respectively.