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Enduring to the End - Mark 13:1-13

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Mark 13:1-13 Enduring to the End 2020-04-05 God has saved us, informed us, and called us to be faithful. What do you consider to be essential? I would figure that, for most of us recently, we’ve given personal consideration to what is essential and been impacted by our society’s definition of what is essential. So, gang, what’s essential in your life? Anybody impacted by lack of haircuts? Scripture Passage: Mark 13:1-13 How do you prepare for hardship? What is essential in preparing, and what is essential in weathering a season of hardship? The Shocking Statement (vv.1-2) 1. v.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!’” - The Temple in Jerusalem during this time truly was a wonderful sight to behold. Herod had undertaken the reconstruction of the Temple, and it was a “spare no expense” construction project. 1. A Rabbi said, “he who has not seen Jerusalem in her splendour, has never seen a desirable city in his life. He who has not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in his life.” One commentator writes that “the temple complex in Jerusalem was probably the most awesome building in the ancient world.” According to Josephus, some of the stones were thirty-seven feet long by twelve feet high by eighteen feet deep. He wrote, “Now the outward face of the temple in its front wanted nothing that was likely to surprise either men’s mind or their eyes: for it was covered all over with plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendor, and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the suns’ own rays. But this Temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow; for, as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceedingly white.” According to John 2:20, at that point it had been under construction for 46 years, and it would be around 30 more years before it was complete (you think your renovation projects are taking a long time!). 2. For the disciple that made this comment, this wasn’t his first time seeing the Temple, so his statement shows even more how impressive this building was. 2. v.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.’” - Jesus recognized that these were impressive buildings. They were great in size, great in splendor, great in importance and significance to the daily lives of the people. It was the center of Jewish life - religious, economic, political, even social. We might say it would be like the legislative, executive, and judicial branches all rolled into one building. But a day was coming when they would all come tumbling down. This would be devastating news. 1. Do you remember the day the Twin Towers in New York City came crashing down? You probably remember where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing. I don’t know about you, but for me it seemed like life went into slow-motion. It’s been over 18 years ago now, but the events of that day have changed life even to this day. And I hadn’t really given much thought to those buildings before that day. What if those buildings were, like the temple was for the Jews, the center and seat of life? The Inquiry (vv.3-4) 1. v.3 “And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately…” - Jesus and the disciples walk from the temple, down through the Kidron Valley, and work their way up the Mount of Olives. All the while the disciples’ minds must have been spinning over what Jesus had said would happen. So as they stop on the Mount of Olives, these 4 come to Jesus to learn more about what he had said. 2. v.4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” - This question by the disciples sparks the longest discourse by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. And how we understand this question will drive how we understand Jesus’ answer. I’m persuaded that this is two questions referring to the same one thing, the destruction of the temple. 1. Question 1 - When will these things (Greek tauta) be? 2. Question 2 - What will be the sign when all these things (Greek tauta) are about to be accomplished? 3. Because I see this as two questions referring to one thing, I see Jesus’ answer being first and foremost about the destruction of the temple in vv.5-23. I think that all of the events in vv.5-23 had a near fulfillment before 70AD and the fall of Jerusalem, when Titus came with his Roman army and destroyed the city and the Jews dispersed. But I also think that there are elements that will have an eschatological fulfillment, that is, that certain events might be realized in the near future but have a second and more profound fulfillment around Christ’s return. 3. So we’ve drilled down a fair bit already and focused on some technical aspects, but I want to pull back and make some more general, and prayerfully helpful, observations at this point. 1. First, the disciples were being prepared for hardship. There would be great hardship very shortly as Jesus was betrayed and crucified, but they are being prepared for hardship even further down the road, another 40 or so years later when the temple would be destroyed. Jesus doesn’t insulate his followers from trouble, but prepares them, protects them, preserves them, and works powerfully through them in the midst of trouble. Isn’t this much of the record in the Book of Acts, that the church exploded throughout the known world even while believers were being persecuted? 2. Second, what was the response of the disciples to this devastating prophetic statement about the destruction of the temple? They had questions, and they drew near to Jesus. There are a thousand ways we might react and respond to trial, but I think learning a lesson from the disciples would serve us extremely well. Draw near to Jesus. Do you know, dear saint, that he loves you, he died for you, he adopted you into his family, he is interceding for you, is preparing a place for you, will never leave you nor forsake you, and will return to bring you to glory? Stand Firm in Faithful Endurance (vv.5-13) As Jesus responds to the questions of his disciples, you might be surprised as you pay attention to his answers. For one, he doesn’t give a specific answer to their first question about when this would take place. Instead he says this will happen and that will take place, but the end is not yet. Wars and earthquakes and famines are coming, but that is only the beginning of the birth pains. Also, in vv.5-13 he is much less concerned with the timing and the sign and much more concerned with the standing and faithful endurance of his disciples. In fact, he gives 5 imperative commands to his disciples, followed by 1 promise, which I want to spend the rest of our time together looking at. 1. v.5 Imperative 1 - “See that no one leads you astray.” - Many will be deceived and led away from the truth by false teachers. The command is to watch out, to pay attention. What are we to be watching so as to not be led astray? How about the genuine article, so we can recognize the counterfeit? 1 Timothy 4:16 “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 2. v.7 Imperative 2 - “Do not be alarmed.” - When wars and rumors of war are in the headlines, don’t be troubled, don’t be filled with apprehension, but trust in our Sovereign God. We may not know everything that he is working out in any specific situation, but knowing what we do know about him and his will, we can trust him. John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” 3. v.9 Imperative 3 - “Be on your guard.” - vv.9-11 fit together. What were they to be guarded about? Were they to be on their guard with escape routes planned and munitions stockpiled? No, they were to be guarding their minds, hearts, and souls, so that when, by God’s will, they were delivered over, beaten, and stood before governors and kings, they would be ready to bear witness and proclaim the gospel. Isn’t a large part of the Book of Acts a commentary on this command? Read Acts 7:54-60. Is soul care and gospel witness part of your emergency planning? 4. v.11 Imperative 4 - “Do not be anxious.” - The command to “not be anxious” needs a positive command paired with it, something right to focus on and engage in. And that’s what Jesus provides with Imperative 5. 5. v.11 Imperative 5 - “Say whatever is given you (by the Holy Spirit).” - This is consistently what we read of in the Book of Acts, that they were filled with the Holy Spirit and so spoke (Acts 2:4; 4:8; 13:9). By relying on the Holy Spirit they filled the world with the gospel. 1. Colossians 1:6 “[the gospel] which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing” 2. Colossians 1:23 “not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” 6. v.13 Promise - “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” - In trials and persecutions there are many things we don’t have control over. But we can set our minds to endurance. And the promise of salvation should serve to steel our minds to endure adversity. Conclusion: Jesus wasn’t calling his disciples to sky watching, headline interpreting living. He wanted them to be aware, yes, but mostly to be aware of their own conduct and faith, to be faithfully enduring all the way until the end. That it what would be best for them. Faithful endurance would give them opportunity to bear witness that they wouldn’t have otherwise, and open the door of salvation to others that wouldn’t hear otherwise. Ultimately, it is faithful endurance that would bring God the most glory as he would carry out his will, accomplish his purposes, and save his beloved.
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