Summary: It is at the darkest part of the night that a light shines the brightest. As we come to Mark 13 we see hope at the end of a terrible time in earth's history, when the lights will dim for the coming King. Then we see the path to that event beginning as the
We pick up the story from where we left off—Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the destruction of the Temple and, presumably, when He, as the Messiah, would take over the world. Jesus told them that many events would take place prior to His return but that His disciples should not focus on specific signs—just know that things will get bad. Instead they should focus on sharing the “good news”—knowing full well that they will suffer for it. He did give one specific sign to look for during the last seven year period known as the Tribulation—that of a man standing in the Holy of Holies proclaiming Himself to be God. That event would unleash a torrent of persecution against Christian and Jew that would have led to the annihilation of the human race were God not to intervene. Today we see that intervention.
Like in a theater, the house dims so the lights can come up on the stage. So too—both at the beginning and end of our account today, we see the lights dim in order to let the enemy have full sway, until the spotlight shines on the Savior—as the suffering Savior, then as the coming King.
24 – 27
The word “but” at the beginning of verse 24 shows the contrast between the miracles and signs performed by the Antichrist, the arrival of the real Christ—Jesus. Verses 24 and 25 sound very much like Isaiah 13:10 and Joel 2:10-11. But perhaps it was best described in the Apostle John’s vision in Revelation 6:12-14 at the opening of the sixth seal to the title deed of the earth: “Then I saw Him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood; 13 the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; 14 the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place.”
We don’t know exactly what is going to happen, but there are so many Scriptures that reference cosmic disturbances that it is likely cataclysmic events in the universe will occur. As I mentioned last week, no one will miss the Second Coming of Jesus. It is indeed almost like the lights going down in a theater preparing for the main show—the sun darkens so that when the Son of God arrives in His glory all the spot lights are on Him. He left in clouds and in clouds He will return—but not humbly riding into Jerusalem on a donkey but “in power and glory.” Don’t mistake the humility of Jesus and the graciousness of His love and offer of salvation as weakness.
During the Tribulation people will still come to know the Lord. When He returns (I believe with us who have been raptured off of the earth – Jude 14) Jesus will want to collect all those still alive so He’ll send the angels to the four corners of the globe to get them.
28 – 29
The fig tree is one of the only trees in Palestine that loses its leaves in the winter. In the spring as the sap rises into the branches it leafs out—a sure sign that summer is around the corner. So too, Jesus says, “when these signs and events occur, know that My return is imminent.” It is designed to give hope to people suffering so much that they could give into despair.
30 – 31
These verses are a little harder to interpret. The word “generation” in verse 30 is the Greek word genea which can mean “generation” or “race.” So is Jesus saying that all this will happen to the current generation? Well, yes and no. It seems likely that He is using both ideas here: that the current generation will be alive to see the destruction of the Temple, but that the Jewish race will not be extinguished—despite the enemy’s many attempts, but will survive until Jesus returns.
I love verse 31: what a hope. No matter what happens around you, the words of Jesus will NEVER pass away—words like “I will never leave you nor forsake you” or that nothing can separate you from His love.
32 – 37
When Jesus came to earth He gave up His omniscience so He truly did not know when He would return. He also tells us that the Father has not entrusted that knowledge to the angels. He certainly has not told any man, so you can be sure of one thing: when someone says Jesus will return at this date: that is NOT when He will return!
The main point here is that Jesus has given us a job to do, and that is to have an active relationship with Him, being transformed into His image by the Holy Spirit and to be a witness to His love and power. It is easy to fall into the mindset that because Jesus isn’t here personally, and we don’t know when He’s coming back, that we can just laze around doing nothing. Quite the contrary. This doesn’t mean we run around all worried that Jesus is going to come back and judge us as lazy servants either. It means He has entrusted to you a treasure: the gospel. And He expects us to treasure our relationship with Him and our job for Him so much that we want to be about doing kingdom work and when He comes. I would encourage you not to be the one who just plays Christianity and then at the last minute gets serious about a relationship with God.