The Gospel of Mark moves so quickly. If you were to read it in a single sitting, it would only take you about 45 minutes. Just 45 minutes to tell us the story of the most significant person in the history of the world. These 16 brief chapters walk us through the 3-year ministry of the Savior. As the story reaches its climax, there is a shift in the tone. Jesus is preparing His followers for the "heaviness" of what's about to happen. We see this in the extremely abrupt and seemingly out of place response Jesus gives to one of His disciples.
Setting: They are walking out the Temple. It's spring in Jerusalem, a beautiful time of year. One of His followers makes the comment that the buildings and the stones are pretty impressive, and Jesus responds:
“Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
What? Where did that come from? Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that came out of left field, because after they had crossed the Kidron Valley and climbed the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, Peter & Andrew (brothers) and James & John (brothers) come to Jesus and ask Him:
“Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?
Then, Jesus spends the rest of the chapter (The Olivet Discourse) answering that question. This is weighty stuff. He tells them about all the things that will come to pass as the clock winds down to zero. As he unpacks the "End Times" for these four disciples, He repeats several admonitions regarding how we ought to respond to this future reality. I'll mention two.
Be on your guard!
We need to be ready, but we don't need to freak out. Nowhere in Jesus' discourse do you get the idea things have gotten out of hand. God is absolutely in control of all of this and we can trust Him to accomplish His purposes. We don't need to "fear what they fear."
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Attention doomsday preppers: The only way you can really be prepared for the coming apocalypse is by making sure you are personally ready to meet Jesus. Since we do not know the day or hour, we just need to be ready whenever He might appear.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
Years later, reflecting back on Jesus' words, Peter writes:
(2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-9) In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised?"
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Jesus is giving us the opportunity to respond to Him while there is still time.
Question for believers: Do you long for His appearing?
(2 Timothy 4:8) There is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Come quickly Lord Jesus. I cannot wait to see you!
BOBBY PRUITT | Lead Pastor