Summary: What will the sign of the end be? What can we expect during that time? The disciples asked questions such as these and Jesus provided answers in the Olivet Discourse.
Discussing the End
Mark 13: 1-8
Following a time of intense debate within the Temple, Jesus and the disciples departed Jerusalem and made their way to the Mount of Olives. As they sat there on the mountain, having a clear view of the city below, Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse. The message Jesus shared with the disciples that day dealt with the end of the age, a time yet future. While He didn’t describe every detail regarding the end times, Jesus shared enough to reveal the social and spiritual climate that will be present in that day.
As we begin to discuss the Olivet Discourse, also recorded in Matthew and Luke’s gospels, I want to disclose that I do not have all the answers. There is no way anyone could say with absolute certainty that they understand what Jesus taught completely. Some of what Jesus shared with the disciples would be fulfilled in their lifetime, some of it they would see partially fulfilled, and some of these prophecies remain to be fulfilled. Although we cannot fully grasp everything Jesus taught, His words and warnings provide valuable insight to the end times. Through His teaching we understand the sovereignty of God in our future, and sense that we are rapidly approaching that day.
With all of this in mind, I want to begin our study of the Olivet Discourse. Today we will examine the realities within our text verses as we consider: Discussing the End.
I. The Initial Conversation (1-4) – These verses speak of the moments that immediately followed Jesus’ departure from the Temple. He and the disciples had been at the Temple for three consecutive days. As they left the Temple that day, one of the disciples commented on the beauty and enormity of the Temple in Jerusalem, V.1. It was built of massive stones, all carefully laid one upon another. The Temple was a magnificent structure, the most beautiful building in Jerusalem, having been rebuilt by Herod. It was estimated to have been 172 feet long and twenty stories high. It would have been in view from any location within the city.
Upon hearing the admiration of the disciple regarding the beauty of the Temple, Jesus declared that the time would come when not one stone would be left upon another, the Temple and the city of Jerusalem were destined for destruction, V.2. This prophecy of Jesus would be fulfilled as Titus the Roman general invaded Jerusalem, as the Temple and much of the city was burned to the ground in 70 AD. As the Temple burned, the Romans realized the gold was melting and running between the cracks in the rocks. The Temple was destroyed as the gold was sought by the Romans, tearing each rock apart to harvest the melted gold.
After hearing Jesus prophesy the coming destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to Jesus asking when these things would come to pass, Vv.3-4. Sensing the burden of Jesus, they were curious about the timing of these events. They wanted to know which signs to look for that would reveal the fulfillment of the prophecies. Their question prompted Jesus’ teaching on the end times, now known as the Olivet Discourse.
II. The Factual Revelation (5-8) – Jesus responded to the question posed by the brothers, sharing much regarding the end. His response will take us through the end of this chapter. As we begin to consider His revelation, we discover Jesus spoke of:
A. Deception (5-6) – And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. During the tribulation the anti-Christ will come on the scene, deceiving and uniting the world, but Jesus warned of many false Christs and prophets leading up to and during that time. These will speak with passion and deceive many. Mark 13:22 – For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Even some of the saved by grace will be tempted to believe their message of deception.
Following the resurrection of Christ, and after the death of the apostles, a man named Simon Bar Kokhba declared himself to be the Messiah around 132 AD. His claims garnered many followers leading to a Jewish uprising against Rome. This rebellion resulted in the complete destruction of Jerusalem in 135 AD. We have witnessed the rise and fall of many charismatic leaders throughout history. Hitler deceived the Germans leading up to, and during World War II. In modern times, men like Jim Jones and David Koresh claimed to be Messiah and gathered a following of believers. Dictators in certain countries have a god-like status before their people and are followed with unquestioned devotion. Such deception will continue to increase as we approach our Lord’s return.