Summary: A sermon on Jesus’ prediciton of the destruction of the Temple
WHAT ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT?
“Who moved my cheese?” – disaster when cheese was moved
9/11 – everything changed. In one sense, the end of our world.
Cubs and Red Sox fans – you’d think the world has ended
Open your Bible with me to Mark 13. Today we come to one of the most fascinating and crucial chapters in Mark’s gospel. It is fascinating because of its subject matter, and crucial because of its role in Mark’s writing. It is a transition, following the description of Jesus’ teachings, emphasized in chapter 12, and immediately preceding Mark’s emphasis on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, which occupies fully ¼ if Mark’s book. In this chapter, Jesus addresses some major concerns of his followers, and of us. As we begin today, I’d like to consider this question: What are you really concerned about?
Notice how these concerns are brought up, as I read Mk. 13:1-4.
As Jesus and his disciples are walking out of the magnificent Temple, marvelously rebuilt by Herod, someone says to Jesus, “Wow! Look at this massive, magnificent building!” They are admiring the architecture, the grandeur of this building, and well they should. I’ve had the privilege of traveling and seeing some magnificent buildings, some of them really old – mosques, churches, castles, fortresses – but nothing that would compare to Herod’s temple. It was truly a wonder of the world.
So they are admiring this amazing building when Jesus makes this incredible statement: “You think this building is great? Well, it will be completely destroyed.” Before 9/11, none of us could even imaging the Twin Towers reduced to rubble. Remember that?
What is even more incredible than this statement, this prediction by Jesus, is the fact that his statement was completely fulfilled. Jesus spoke these words in about 30 AD, and in 66 AD war erupted between the Jews and the Roman Empire, which climaxed in 70 AD with Rome utterly destroying Herod’s temple. Leveled it to the ground. In fact, if you read the words of Josephus, and Jewish historian (not a Christian) who lived through the war, he actually uses the words that Jesus did in describing what happened. Frankly, we should make a bigger deal about this. It’s a tremendous validation of Jesus and the NT.
But when the disciples heard this startling prediction, they immediately wanted to know when this would happen, what “signs” or clues would there be before “these things” happened. “These things” referring of course to the destruction of the Temple.
Jesus answers them, and he answers us to. They want to know when this event would take place. Being Jews, who absolutely were nuts about their Temple, and being utterly unable to comprehend its destruction, and knowing that in the past their temples have been destroyed as major judgments by God, they view Jesus’ prediction as an “end of the world” event. For the Temple to be destroyed would be the “end of the world” for them. They knew it would set in moton “the end.” Interestingly, that’s how we often view this. Many Christians view Jesus’ words in Mark 13 as a prophecy about the end of the world, or the End Times. We will talk more about that next week. But at face value, Jesus seems to be responding to their specific question – “how will we know when the Temple will be destroyed? – an event that apparently occurred in 70 AD. Even so, what he tells them about what they were facing applies to us and whatever we are facing – personally, globally, etc.
But in answering them, Jesus answers us as well. In his answer, he tells them what they can expect. He gives them, and us, spiritual principles for facing disaster, catastrophe, the “end of the world as you know it.” His specific answers to them apply generally to us. All this will be tied together by a single statement he makes. Let’s see what he says as I read Mark 13:5-8.
Jesus says, “Don’t let anyone deceive you.” Don’t be misled. And he gives 2 categories of things not to be misled by.
First of all, don’t be misled by people. Many will come in my name, meaning many will come claiming to be Messiah. These people will deceive many – don’t you be one of them. Don’t be misled by people who tell you “the end is near.” We know from history that they encountered this – many false Messiahs. People sprang up in the time leading up to the war and destruction of the temple claiming to be the Messiah. They all gathered followers.
Interestingly, we face this too. In fact, virtually every generation has had its share of people claiming to be the Messiah, or God’s messenger. I’ve traveled in a part of the world where over 100 million people blindly follow one of these – Mohammed. Our generation has had its share, if not as influential as some: the Jim Jones’ and the David Koreshes. Don’t be misled by people, Jesus says.