Summary: Jesus revealed that those who were committed to Him should expect difficulty and persecution for their faith. We tend to think He referred to others, but it is applicable to believers everywhere.
Despised for the Gospel
Mark 13: 9-13
As we continue to discuss the Olivet Discourse, we are reminded that Jesus had warned of calamities the world would face as the end drew near. There would be many false prophets seeking to deceive, much fighting and war among nations, earthquakes, famine, and troubles previously unknown to humanity.
As difficult and horrific as these events sounded, likely the disciples realized Jesus was speaking primarily of social upheaval. As of yet, He hadn’t spoken in a personal manner with them, revealing events or circumstances that could potentially affect them personally. That was about to change as Jesus gave a specific warning to those who are committed to follow Him.
Living in America, we enjoy religious liberty and the freedom to worship – at least for now. We are unfamiliar with the difficulties many face around the world simply for their faith in Christ. Christians are being attacked, marginalized, and even martyred in many regions around the world. The warnings of Christ regarding the end are beginning to become reality for many.
As we continue in our discussion of the Olivet Discourse, I want to examine the difficulties Jesus spoke of in these verses as we think on: Despised for the Gospel.
I. The Affliction Predicted (9-10) – As Jesus continued to talk with the disciples, He predicted they would be afflicted for their faith. Those who stand for the Lord at the end of the age can expect to endure the same. Consider:
A. The Presentation (9) – But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils…and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake…Jesus warned the disciples that they would be taken before the councils. He was speaking primarily of the Sanhedrin, the ruling religious council in Jerusalem. They can be viewed as the Supreme Court regarding spiritual and biblical matters. Jesus would soon enough be tried and condemned before the Council, and He warned the disciples to make preparation to stand before them.
Jesus also cautioned they would be taken to stand before rulers and kings for his sake. Those who served Him would find themselves accused and standing before the ruling political powers of their day. We know this prophecy was carried out in many of their lives. Peter and John were taken before the Sanhedrin after the lame man was healed. Peter and James stood before King Herod and imprisoned. James was executed and Peter was miraculously delivered from the jail. John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, considered an enemy of the state. Paul found himself before the councils, governors, and kings – all for the cause of Christ.
This continues today, just as it has for centuries, and will only intensify as we get closer to the Lord’s return. Christians are being arrested, sued, taken to court, and forced to publicly defend their faith before the authorities of this world.
B. The Punishment (9) – and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten. Jesus revealed the disciples would be hunted down and beaten, even within the synagogues as they sought to worship the Lord and teach His Word. Those who opposed the Gospel would come into their places of worship to attack and physically abuse them. Within the place one would expect to enjoy peace and security, pain and suffering would come. Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence around the world today. In many countries, when houses of worship are discovered, those who gather there are beaten and the buildings are often vandalized or destroyed.
C. The Purpose (9c-10) – for a testimony against them.  And the gospel must first be published among all nations. Although the affliction would be difficult to endure, it would serve a purpose. As these were persecuted for the faith, their words and witness would stand as a testimony against those who opposed the Gospel. The accusers could not deny the truth they encountered. They may have rejected it, but they could not escape responsibility to it. The perseverance of the disciples in preaching and sharing the Gospel would be remembered against those who opposed their efforts.
Another benefit would come from the affliction endured by the disciples. Jesus revealed that His Gospel must be preached among all nations prior to His return. While none enjoy adversity, congregations at ease have little burden to take the Gospel outside their walls, much less into their communities and the world at large. Through the difficulties of affliction, the Gospel would be shared throughout the world as those who faithfully served the Lord were forced to flee to other parts of the world due to persecution. Every nation will hear the Gospel prior to the Lord’s return, one way or another!
II. The Assistance Promised (11) – But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Although they faced certain affliction and opposition because of their faith, Jesus promised they would not be without assistance. Notice: