Summary: Dealing with the most important question from Mark 13: when Jesus comes, will you be ready?
Good morning! Please turn in (or on) your Bibles. We are continuing with Part two of a message we began last week, called Good News for Bad Times. If you missed it last week, I would encourage you to go back and listen to it. But let me just recap where we’ve been so far.
We talked about the context of this teaching. He’s just left the Temple, and when the disciples pointed out how impressive the Temple was, Jesus told them that not one stone would be left on top of another. So they climb up the Mount of Olives, and they are looking at the Temple, and the disciples are like, Hey—that thing you mentioned, about the Temple being destroyed—give us a heads up. When is all that going down? So Jesus launches into what Bible scholars call “The Olivet Discourse,” because it all happens on the Mount of Olives. And again, if you missed it, we talked about how
Deception is Coming, so don’t get duped (v. 1-8), and we talked about the Antichrist. Then we talked about how…
Persecution is Coming, and we don’t get Pass (v. 9-13) Then we chased a rabbit about the timing of the Rapture, and whether Christians would have to endure persecution. And we agreed (or at least I hope we agreed) that Christians could have different opinions on this and still be brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then we wrapped up by talking about how the one sure sign of when Jesus would return would be that the gospel would be proclaimed in every nation, and how much more fun it would be to be a part of that than it would being cooped up in your house with all your charts and graphs and YouTube videos and Left Behind books.
So we come to this week and we realize that Jesus still hasn’t really answered the disciple’s question of when all these things are going to happen, and we are beginning to realize that he probably won’t. and here’s why…
Quick show of hands: think back to your high school days. The teacher assigns a mammoth research paper. You know from the beginning of the semester when this bad boy is due. Raise your hand if you were the type that started working on it the day it was assigned?
Raise your hand if you started working on it like the week before it was due? Or the night before it was due? Or the morning it was due?
That’s kind of what I thought. I meant to find some scientific data to back up this idea that most people procrastinate, but I kept putting it off, and then I ran out of time.
No, seriously, one study says that 86% of high school students and 88% of college students procrastinate. 66% of high school students pulled at least one all nighter in the previous year, 79% of college students had. . College males are the worst. 92% procrastinate.
So if that is a truth of human nature, that the majority of people, when given a deadline, will wait right up until the last minute to get to work, don’t you see God’s wisdom in NOT giving us a hard date for when Jesus is coming back?
Ok, so with that in mind, let’s continue to look at Mark 13. Our next point in the outline is that …
3. Tribulation is Coming, and it’s gonna get bad (v. 14-23 Let’s read verses 14-19 together:
14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.
In these verses, Jesus describes a time of intense tribulation. The Greek word is thleepses which is impossible to say without sounding like you’re missing your two front teeth, but it means a time of distress anguish, intense pressure. And Jesus tells his disciples that there is coming a time of thleepses that will be worse than anything that has ever been experienced from the beginning of creation until now. And never will be.
And its that last phrase that makes it so hard to understand this passage. Is it talking about something that has already taken place? Is it talking about something that is going to take place within the lifetime of the disciples? Or is it talking about something that is going to ultimately happen at the end of all things, just before Jesus comes back? And the answer is, yes. Let me explain: