Today’s Reading: Mark 13 and Psalm 137
Today’s reading in Mark is noted in several commentaries as one of the most difficult chapters in the New Testament for the modern reader to understand. Throughout the chapter Jesus is using language, context and historical reference that is quite significant for the Jews. This history isn’t as familiar to us as Christians and so some of the language is confusing. In the first section of Mark 13, Jesus foretells the fall of Jerusalem:
“…And Jesus said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down.” Mark 13:2
Peter, James, John and Andrew take Jesus aside and ask him when the destruction will begin. They ask for a sign that the devastation is near. Jesus responds with another warning:
“Many shall come in my name, saying, I am he; and shall lead many astray. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be not troubled: these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be earthquakes in places; there shall be famines: these things are the beginning of travail.” Mark 13:6-8
Sounds pretty terrifying, doesn’t it? On one hand, as Christian’s we are all anxiously awaiting the day when Christ will come again but on the other hand it seems as if we must endure great suffering before that day comes. In fact, after studying Mark 13 I got to thinking that I’m really pretty much ok in my little house in Central Illinois. I’m not ready to flee to the mountains or stand on my roof while the world burns around me. The idea of this apocalyptic end seems like something we should only see in the movie theater. So, what can we draw from today’s message from Mark? How do we reconcile our modern life with this ancient prophesy that we believe will one day come to pass? As I read the passage above I’m keenly aware that nations are already rising against other nations, that there are indeed earthquakes happening around the globe, that famine is absolutely happening in far off places today. Perhaps more importantly, I’m also aware that there are many coming in His name claiming to be him. So how do we go to work, bring the kids to school and plan dinner with the knowledge and awareness of what’s to come? Jesus says:
“Watch, therefore: for ye know not when the lord of the house cometh, whether at evening or at midnight, or at cock crowing or in the morning, lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:35-37
Jesus tells us in Mark 13 that even he does not know the day or the hour when he will come again. Only our Heavenly Father knows the timetable. Jesus draws the very practical conclusion in verses 35-37 that we are like men that know our master will return, but who do not know when. Study Light Commentary says, “We live in the shadow of eternity. That is no reason for fearful and hysterical expectation. But it means that day by day our work must be completed. It means that we must live so that it doesn’t not matter when He comes. It gives us the great task of making every day fit for Him to see and being ready to meet Him face to face.”
In the next week we’ll get to meet our Savior on the day of His birth. Although we may not see His face or touch his tiny hand, we’ll meet Him in smaller ways. We’ll see His majesty through giving to the poor, feel His presence in the Christmas songs we sing. We’ll have the opportunity to look for signs of His coming. We know that in this life there will be suffering, there will be sadness and tears but at the end there will be Jesus. If your heart is heavy this Christmas season, watch for Him. If you are afraid, watch for Him. If you feel the ground shaking beneath you, watch for Him.
Lynden and I wish you a blessed Christmas. We pray that your heart and home will be filled with the love of Christ.