Summary: A Sermon on Jesus’ Olivet Discourse

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Mark 13:14-37


Do you ever want to know the future, know what’s coming?

We seem to have a certain fascination with knowing the future

How will my kids turn out?

What stocks should I buy?

What decision should I make about a job, relationship, purchase.

Even a popular TV show had this theme. “Morning Edition”

What would you do if you knew the future? Call your broker?

How would you live if you knew what was coming?

Everybody seems to want to know this, even the disciples.


Today we look again at a passage where Jesus tells the disciples a little bit about what they faced – what was coming to them, what they could expect to face. In a sense, we’re going to listen in on their conversation, because as he tells them what they face, we get a glimpse of what we will face. Now let me caution you. He is not going to give us a specific road map of what our future holds. No details – he’s speaking primarily to them, after all. But in his answers to them, he gives to us glimpses, pictures of what’s ahead. But most importantly, he shows us how to live confidently and successfully, whatever the future holds. Oh, and by the way, when he gives insight about the future, don’t worry – its not all bad!

So, what does he say is coming? What could they (and we) expect to face?

A. Judgment and all that goes with it

Chapter 13 begins with Jesus predicting the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem – v. 2. This is a profound judgment of God against the Jewish people, for rejecting Him and his Messiah. This passage is all about judgment.

In v. 4, they ask him “when” they could expect it, and what “signs” there would be that it was near. And for the next several verses, Jesus describes what would surround this event, and answers their question of “when.”

Its important at this point to note that Jesus here is answering their questions about when the Temple would be destroyed – an event that actually occurred, in 70 ad when the Romans took Jerusalem and leveled the Temple in the climax to a bloody war. Many people jump to the conclusion that Jesus suddenly starts talking about the “End” here, or the “Last Days” or the distant future. The “end” Jesus speaks of here, is the end of the Temple.

Read vv. 5-13. Jesus says this judgment, this destruction, will be preceded by false Messiahs, wars, famines, earthquakes, etc. These are all a part of this judgment God is levying against them. This describes perfectly the situation of the years 66-70 ad. It happened just like he said

He also says they will face persecution, arrest, betrayal, hate because of their faith. This is what they had coming. This is what they could expect to face. These are preliminary signs, indications.

Even though Jesus was speaking primarily to them, what he says applies to us. We face turbulent world events that really shake us up – earthquakes, war, rumors of war, etc. What Jesus said to them he would say to us: These in and of themselves are not the end, but they are indications that there will be and end. We can expect them.

We can also expect to face persecution, harassment, betrayal, and hate because of our faith. We talked last week about those in other parts of the world, like Uzbekistan and Turkey, who really do suffer, go to jail, because of their faith. We could talk about the rash of killings in our own country, where believers have actually been singled out. We could talk about the hate some elements of our society have for our values and our faith. You can expect this! It is a spiritual certainty – where there is faith, proclamation of the gospel, there will be persecution. This is what’s coming.

In verse 14, Jesus goes on to describe a particular sign, indication of judgment they would see. Notice what they will see, and how they should respond, as I read vv. 14-23. That sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? Again, many people fast forward and assume Jesus starts talking about the distant future here, the “end of the world.” But what he tells them about actually fits with what happened leading up to the destruction of the Temple in 70 ad.

The “abomination that causes desolation” is language first used by the OT prophet Daniel. It describes something so profane that occurs in the temple that it brings great judgment from God. Daniel first wrote about it around 500 BC, It apparently occurred in 168 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes set up a pagan alter in the Temple. But Jesus here indicates Daniel’s prophecy wasn’t completely fulfilled then, but would be previous to the destruction of the Temple. The Jewish historian Josephus saw these words fulfilled in 66-68 AD when the Zealots defiled the temple and installed a clown Phanni as high priest.

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