Summary: The closeness of Christ’s coming should cause us to walk closely with Him today.
Play Video: If Jesus Returned Today.
If Jesus came back today, would He find us faithful or faithless? The question is not when Jesus will return but what will we do before He gets here? A focus on the future will fortify our faith today.
We come to Mark 13, which contains the longest sermon of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Mark. In this passage Jesus preaches about the end times. This makes me smile because two weeks ago we learned about the widow’s mite and established that Jesus celebrates the sacrifice of the giver, not the size of the gift. If we had advertised that money message, our attendance would probably have gone down that weekend. This week we announced on Facebook that this sermon is about the end times and I wonder if some of you came because of the topic.
I could be wrong about this because you are such a giving congregation. We haven’t even officially launched our capital campaign for our facility project and people are already asking if they can begin giving towards it. The answer is absolutely! Simply put “Building Fund” on your check or select the “Building Fund” category if you prefer to give digitally through our app or website.
This week Pastor Ed and Pastor Kyle were seen standing by the side of the road. They each held up signs that read, “The End is Near! Turn around before it’s too late!” The first driver yelled out as he sped by, “You guys are religious nut cases. Leave us alone!” From around the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash. Ed turned to Kyle and said, “Do you think we should just put up a sign that says, ‘Bridge Out’ instead?”
There are two extremes we must avoid about the end times.
• Sensationalizing. For some the tendency is to obsess about biblical prophecy by trying to fit every news headline into a prophetic timeline. Paul cautions Christians against this in 2 Thessalonians 2:2: “Not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” Some believers in Thessalonica had stopped working and were just waiting for the return of Christ.
• Trivializing. Others don’t think about the return of Christ at all and even roll their eyes at this important doctrine. 2 Peter 3:3-4: “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”
Here are some additional points before we dive in.
1. I feel a bit intimidated preaching on prophecy from this pulpit (table). Pastor Brown, Edgewood’s previous senior pastor, is well known throughout the QCA for his excellent teaching on this topic and knows a lot more about it than I do.
2. I will not be giving a full explanation of all the Bible teaches on this key doctrine. We’ll simply be walking through Mark 13, which is the next stop in our series through this glorious gospel. I encourage you to read Daniel 9-12 for an Old Testament perspective, dive into 1 Thessalonians 4 for information about the Rapture and for details about the Tribulation and the glorious return of Christ, I commend the entire Book of Revelation to you.
3. This chapter is challenging to interpret. I like the rule that Alistair Begg follows when preaching on prophecy: “The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.”
4. One reason this chapter is difficult is because there’s a mixture of events that have already been fulfilled and other events that haven’t happened yet. This “now” and “not yet” is common in apocalyptic passages.
5. Remember that Mark wrote his gospel to persecuted believers living in Rome. These words from Jesus are particulary encouraging to a persecuted people. Likewise, when we experience persecution and pushback because of our faith we’ll find great comfort as well.
6. We don’t know for sure when Jesus is coming back but we’re certain that He is! Did you know that for every one verse in the Bible that speaks about Jesus’ first coming that there are eight more verses that describe His second coming?
7. History and future events are linear, not cyclical. History is “his-story” and is headed somewhere. The next big date on God’s calendar is the rapture of the church and the return of Jesus Christ.
8. The aim of prophecy is always practical. While we want to know the “when” and “what” questions, Jesus focuses on “who” we need to be and “how” we should live in light of His return. With profound pastoral concern, Jesus is preparing us to proclaim the gospel in the midst of persecution. Prophecy is not designed to satisfy our curiosity but to sanctify our character. The question is not when Jesus will return but what will we do before He gets here. Let’s focus on being faithful and let God handle the end of the world!