Summary: Meanwhile, as we live in between what was and what will be, we live good and peaceful lives.
Despite the increasingly chaotic global landscape and a growing sense of doom and even an impending apocalypse… I suspect relatively few are associating an apocalypse with the Second Coming of Christ. Few are living prepared for that event which II Peter 3:10 says will be like a thief coming in the night.
Thesis: Meanwhile, as we live in between what was and what will be, we live good and peaceful lives.
Few things are forever. We were all shocked to hear that Wonder Bread, which produces Hostess Twinkies has closed its doors. I’m sure it felt like something of an apocalyptic moment when 18,500 employees learned they were losing their jobs. And if that were not enough cause for panic, how about the doomsday scenario all those customers who stood in line Friday to buy up the last remaining packages of Twinkies at area outlet stores? But then, they say, “Nothing lasts forever,” not even Twinkies.
But one can hardly compare the untimely demise of the Hostess Twinkie to the unsettling of the Washington Monument… that 555 feet tower constructed of 36,000 marble, granite and gneiss blocks of stone after the earthquake that struck nearby Virginia in 2011. Following the quake a large crack was discovered near the top allowing light to stream into the tower. Engineers discovered mortar and stone debris strewn around the base and determined the structure was unsafe. It is unthinkable that the Washington Monument, which symbolizes the genius and strength of a nation brave enough to design and build it, should come crashing down into a pile of rubble. But it could.
In our text today we hear another unthinkable prediction… the total and complete destruction of the nation of Israel’s symbol of architectural genius, strength and hope.
Realizing the temporal nature of even our most magnificent human creations gives way to the observation of the cynical mind:
I. So much for monuments of human achievement, Mark 13:1-2
“Jesus replied, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
This text is within the setting of Passion Week and cites how Jesus visited the temple on three occasions in just a couple of days. The story unfolds as Jesus and his disciples arrived in Jerusalem where and when Jesus made what we refer to as “The Triumphal Entry.” In Mark 11:11, after the Triumphal Entry, he made his first visit to the Temple. “He looked around carefully at everything and left because it was late afternoon.”
The next day he returned to the Temple according to Mark 11:15-17 and drove out the merchants who were selling sacrificial offerings and overturned the moneychangers’ tables and stopped the use of the Temple as a marketplace. Verse 19 tells us that Jesus and his disciples left the city that evening.
In Mark 11:20 and 27 we read that Jesus returned to Jerusalem the next morning and went to the Temple. Our text picks up following that third visit as Jesus was leaving the Temple.
One of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.” Then Jesus responded to his friend’s comment, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
I’ve been keeping track of some automobiles over the years. It’s not that I obsess over them but I have noticed that one particular make of car and pickup truck look absolutely fabulous when they come off the showroom floor. But I have also noticed that particular make tends to rust out earlier than other makes. So if you were to drive up in that make of vehicle I might not say it but I would be thinking, “Yep, it looks good today but wait a few years… it’ll be a rusted out piece of junk.” (Probably not what you would expect or want to hear…) I suspect the disciples were a bit taken-aback by Jesus comment as well. “Yep, it looks great today but before long that Temple is going to be a pile of rubble.”
They did not immediately react but later in the day four of his disciples came to him privately and asked, “So Jesus, when will this demolishing of the temple happen? What will be the sign that the demolition is about to begin?”
The thing that makes this chapter so difficult is that it is a story within a story. Jesus was predicting the destruction of the Herod’s palace, the center of government and the Temple. And 70 years later, there was a Jewish rebellion against the Roman government in which Rome laid siege to Jerusalem under the army of Titus, the Roman Emperor.