Thursday, 7 June 2012

Mark 13 - The end of the world

Today we're taking on the whole of Mark chapter 13.  It's a lot more than usual but it's all about the same thing and so it makes sense to read it all at once and notice some of the important things Jesus is saying about his return.  It has been said that Jesus is either mad, bad or God.  His words in this chapter cannot be the words of someone who is simply a nice man or a just a good teacher.  Jesus is either sincerely deluded, deliberately lying or absolutely God...

Mark 13

As they leave the temple and his disciples marvel at all the buildings, Jesus says they'll all fall.  In fact, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD but Jesus is talking about the unraveling of all this world's rebellious power that will take place before he returns (v1-2).

When his disciples question him further about the 'end', Jesus describes a number of things that will happen before he returns...
  • Fake Christs will come and deceive people (v6, 21-22).  We've seen a number of these already and you can find their stories easily online.  These are deluded, dangerous, selfish, corrupt people who deceive many but are not actually God.
  • Wars and rumours of wars (v7-8).  Certainly we've seen this increase.  As technology has advanced, so has the development of weaponry and there is plenty of conflict and potential conflict in our news today.  And there is plenty that doesn't make the news too.
  • Christians will be persecuted by religious people, by the authorities and even by their own families (9-13).  All this happens every day in our world but it rarely makes the popular news.  Organisations like Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs do a great job of reporting it and getting involved though.  VOTM Canada even do a monthly video news report on Christians around the world who are being unjustly arrested, imprisoned, tortured and killed.  It's really happening and we need to know!   
About his return, Jesus says it will be mercifully soon (v21), in great power and glory (v26) and that his angels will collect his people (v27).  Whilst Jesus is clear that his followers should look for these signs of that time (v28-29), he doesn't want them to calculate it exactly because that's not the point (v32). 

There is much in this chapter that could be confusing but the main points are clear... 
  • This world's brokenness will end.  Repeatedly, Jesus has hinted and taught that this world is not all there is and that God has plans that will far outlast it's current state (v30).  It is clear that our world is broken and the people in it are broken too.
  • Jesus is coming back.  Jesus is clear that he will return for his people (v26).  The first time Jesus came, it was in humility to save.  The second time he comes, it will be in power to gather  his people to himself (v26-27).
  • We need to be ready.  Jesus instructs his followers to trust God the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen them in persecution (v11), to look at the signs and reminders that this world is broken and that its rebellion will end (v28-31), and to be ready and getting others ready to meet Jesus by trusting and following him (v10, 32-37).       
Mark blog

What is the 'abomination that causes desolation' (v14)?