As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.”
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!”
3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him privately and asked him, 4 “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?”
5 Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 6 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 7 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 8 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.
9 “When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 10 For the Good News must first be preached to all nations. 11 But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 13 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
This is the longest single teaching in Mark’s Gospel (we’ll read the rest tomorrow) and thus warrants our full attention (Mark interjects this sentiment in v.14). This was important to the audience he was writing for, for whom the pressures surrounding Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple were either a very present danger or else a very recent occurrence (the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70AD). In our own day, people tend either to ignore passages like this or become fixated on them, concocting elaborate fictional accounts that don’t come close to conveying what this passage has to teach us. Jesus stresses two things: don’t worry and watch out. Contradictory? Sounds that way. But given our tendencies in both wrong directions – either to worry or not to watch out – it looks like Jesus left us with the two messages we need most. If you’re prone to worry about the end times, reflect on this and let it help you stop. If you never give thought to Jesus’ return, let this ignite your thinking in a needful direction.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.