Summary: Jesus often utilized shock therapy to get His followers attention then drive home a pungent point. Signs of the times in this the 21st Century ought to shock Christians into getting ready with a watchful eye.
GOOD NEWS PRESENTED BY MARK
Study of the Gospel According to Mark
As you read Mark, be aware that you are reading the very first written account of the ministry of Jesus – a fact well documented by credible Bible scholars. Quite naturally, we want to know who Mark was, and we find that he is mentioned frequently in the New Testament.
What we know about him is that he was the son of a very well-to-do woman in Jerusalem; her name was Mary, and her home became the center of early church get-togethers. So, you can imagine that Mark was there when Jesus’ closest followers came to his mother’s house for a “church council” meeting. Peter the chief elder referred to Mark affectionately as “my son.”
Mark was also the nephew of Barnabas who talked Paul into letting the youngster go with them on one of their missionary journeys - which, you may recall, resulted in Mark’s falling out of favor with Paul by leaving and going back home. However, it’s interesting to note that, years later, when Paul was in prison, facing execution, he asked Timothy to bring Mark with him, “for he is a most useful servant to me.”
I suppose Paul saw in this young man a Christian who had the ability to write; and, apparently having redeemed himself, he could now be counted on to carry out Paul’s wishes. This explanation is plausible because Mark had served as Peter’s scribe and, as such, had written much of what Peter related to him about his eye witness account of the ministry of Jesus.
MARK SERMON X – MARK 13:1-37 . . .
“YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET”!
As our jet cruised toward landing at Liberty International Airport, just a glimpse of the Empire State Building was a sight to behold – not as awesome, though, as was the magnificence of the Twin Towers prior to 9/11/2001, the day that these man-made wonders tragically fell to the ground in a cloud of dust after being attacked by enemies of our nation.
A similar emotion - marveling at a man-made wonder of the world only to be shocked by a prediction of the destruction of that great edifice – must have occurred as Jesus and His disciples made their way toward the Mount of Olives during the last week of our Lord’s earthly ministry – Mark 13:1-4 . . .
Even the first century historian Josephus wrote about gazing in awe at the gleaming marble structure considered to be a wonder of the world due to its massiveness and magnificence. The temple shone so brightly that just the sight of it took people’s breath away; they could hardly believe their eyes!
Yet, Jesus obviously was not as impressed as His disciples were. He calmly foretold the temple’s destruction – which actually happened in the year 70 A.D. The disciples at first were stunned speechless at Jesus’ words of doom; but after a while, gazing at the awesome edifice from the Mount of Olives, they asked Jesus a simple question: “When will it happen and how will we know that it’s about to happen?”
Isn’t it typical of most of us to want to be in on the “know”? Isn’t it true that some folks waste a lot of time trying to figure out: the exact date of the end of time . . . how we will know that the second coming of Christ is imminent? Most folks would love to be among the first to spread the word!
Rather than satisfy their curiosity, Jesus turned the question into a “sermon” about two future significant events that would occur at times when they were least expected – one event in the immediate future (the destruction of the temple), and the other event in the distant future (the end of time as we know it concurrent with the second coming of Christ).
In preparation for these events, Jesus CAUTIONS His disciples about false messiahs – Mark 13:5-8 . . .
Have you ever known or heard of a “cult leader” who deceived large numbers of people by warning them that the end was near? Their followers either gathered on a mountain top, or they left their homes to go to some far away jungle - simply because they had been duped by some “dipstick” into believing that God had told him to take them into seclusion to await the end.
How accurate Jesus was in His prophesy that some “preachers” would use disasters to proclaim that the end is near – earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars, famines, troubles of all kinds all over the world!
We Christians simply must not allow ourselves to get caught up in panic associated with catastrophes – which have been and will continue to be the kinds of things that happen in an imperfect world.