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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Mark 13

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The Olivet Discourse

A. The destruction of the temple and its implications.

1. (Mar 13:1-2) Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple.

Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, "Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!" And Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

a. Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! The disciples seem like tourists amazed at the sites of the city of Jerusalem. They had good reason to be amazed, because the temple compound, as remodeled by Herod the Great, was one of the magnificent structures of the ancient world. The Jewish people were justifiably proud of this great building.

i. This temple was originally rebuilt by Zerubbabel and Ezra (Ezra 6:15), but greatly expanded and improved by Herod. It was the center of Jewish life for almost a thousand years - so much so, that it was customary to swear by the temple (Matthew 23:16), and speaking against the temple could be considered blasphemy (Acts 6:13).

ii. After Herod's work, the temple was huge - nearly 500 yards long and 400 yards wide. Herod's rebuilding started in 19 B.C., and was not completed until 63 A.D., taking more than eighty years. The magnificent temple compound was finished only seven years before it was destroyed.

iii. The beauty of the ancient temple is well documented. The Jewish historian Josephus says that the temple was covered on the outside with gold plates that were so brilliant that when the sun shone on them it blinded any observer. Where there wasn't gold, there were blocks of marble of such a pure white that strangers, from a distance, thought there was snow on the temple.

iv. The comment of the disciples - see what manner of stones and what buildings are here - is especially appropriate given the massive stones Herod used in building the temple. Today, tourists can see some of these massive stones, at least the ones used to build merely the retaining wall for the temple compound. These cut, quarried blocks of limestone are so big - some are 50 feet wide, 25 feet high, and 15 feet deep - that modern construction cranes could not life them. Archaeologists are still not completely certain how these stones were cut, transported, and placed with such precision that they don't even need mortar.

v. As great as the temple was, Jesus never hesitated to claim that He was greater than the temple (Matthew 12:5). For man Jews of that day, the temple had become an idol - it subtly began to mean more to the people than God Himself meant. The temple was a good thing, but good things can become the worst idols; and sometimes God sours even good things that we allow to become our idols. God is in the habit of destroying our idols.

b. Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down: Some 40 years after Jesus said this, there was a widespread Jewish revolution against the Romans in Palestine, and the rebels enjoyed many early successes. But ultimately, Rome crushed the Jews. Jerusalem was leveled, including the temple - just as Jesus said.

i. It is said that at the fall of Jerusalem, the last surviving Jews of the city fled to the temple, because it was the strongest, most secure building in the city. Roman soldiers surrounded it, and one drunken soldier started a fire that soon engulfed the whole building. Ornate gold detail work in the roof melted down in the cracks between the stone walls of the temple, and to retrieve the gold, the Roman commander ordered that the temple be dismantled stone by stone. The destruction was so complete that today, they have true difficulty learning exactly where the temple was.

ii. "Now, as soon as the army had no more people to kill or plunder … Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple … this was the end which Jerusalem came to." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 7.1.1) Interestingly, Josephus tells us that the Romans never intended to destroy the temple, but were driven to it by the fierceness of Jewish opposition and by accident. (Wars of the Jews, 6.4)

c. The literal fulfillment of this prophecy establishes the tone for the rest of the prophecies in the chapter. We should expect a literal fulfillment for these other prophecies also.

2. (Mar 13:3-4) Jesus' prediction brings up two questions in the minds of His disciples.

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?"

a. As He sat on the Mount of Olives: The Mount of Olives is a hill that rises above the temple mount. In between the temple mount and the Mount of Olives there is a small valley, the Kidron Valley. You can stand on the Mount of Olives and have see a dramatic view of the temple mount.

b. Tell us, when will these things be? As Jesus sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, they could see the majestic structure of the temple. With this view, the first question in the mind of the disciples was about the destruction of the temple. Jesus said it would be destroyed, and they wanted to know when. Mark does not record Jesus' answer to this first question, but Luke does in Luke 21:8-23.

c. What will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled? The second question is answered in the remainder of Mark 13.

i. This question was asked perhaps as they remembered the events surrounding the last temple's destruction: the temple was destroyed in the context of national judgment and exile. If the temple will be destroyed, then what will become of Israel and the Jews?

B. The flow of history until Jesus' return.

1. (Mar 13:5-8) Jesus describes general world conditions during the period between His Ascension and the time immediately preceding His Second Coming.

And Jesus, answering them, began to say: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows."

a. Take heed that no one deceives you: Jesus points out the trial that can come to His followers from false messiahs, who come in His name. They will pretend to be Jesus, or representatives of Jesus, but will not be true representatives of Jesus at all.

b. Wars and rumors of wars: Jesus reminds us that before He returns, there will be many wars and threats of war on the earth. In troubled times, many people assume that the end of the age is near but Jesus said that wars and rumors of wars are not signs of the end.

i. "Our Lord's outlook upon this age was not that of one in which there should be a gradual cessation of strife between the nations, by the victory of the preaching of His Gospel, until the whole earth should be reduced by that preaching to a condition of peace." (Morgan)

c. Such things must happen, but the end is not yet: Things such as false messiahs, wars, famines andearthquakes have certainly marked man's history since the time of Jesus' Ascension. In effect, Jesus is saying, "Catastrophes will happen, but these do not signal the end."

i. Man has often thought that such things would mean the end, but Jesus will point out a more specific sign to look for.

ii. It's plain that Jesus intended His followers to endure through such times. Could they shake your faith? Would a war, a famine, a earthquake, or some other catastrophe shake your faith?

d. These are the beginning of sorrows: Jesus said these calamites were not specific signs of the end, but that they were the beginning of sorrows, which is literally the beginning of labor pains. The idea is both of giving birth to a new age, and perhaps implying an increase of intensity and frequency in these calamities.

2. (Mar 13:9-13) Jesus describes what His disciples must expect during the time between His Ascension and Second Coming.

"But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved."

a. Watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils: Jesus tells His disciples to be prepared for the persecution that will come against them before the end comes. This persecution is not the sign of the end, but simply should be expected.

b. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations: But Jesus also promises that before the end, the gospel must go out to the whole world. The presence of persecution does not relieve the Church of this responsibility.

c. When they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak: Jesus tells His followers to not worry about what to say when they are "put on the spot" for being a follower of Jesus. At that moment, the Holy Spirit will give them words to say.

i. A powerful example of this principle is found in Acts 4:1-22, where Peter and the other disciples make a dramatic proclamation of Jesus before the hostile Sanhedrin.

ii. Jesus speaks here of the inspiration that comes at a moment of persecution, not teaching in the church. "There is no excuse for the lazy preacher who fails to prepare his sermon out of the mistaken reliance upon the Holy Spirit." (Robertson)

d. Brother will betray brother death: The followers of Jesus should expect the most painful kinds of rejection and betrayal as they seek to stand strong for Jesus.

i. It is easy for us to underestimate how difficult a time of persecution can be. Inside this building, I can easily say, "Jesus Christ is Lord."

- If I came from an orthodox Jewish family, they might consider me a blasphemer and account me as dead for choosing Jesus.
- If I came from a strict Muslim family, I might be rejected by my family and be literally killed for choosing Jesus.
- If I came from a Hindu family in India, I could be rejected and martyred for choosing Jesus.
- In China, I would be allowed to practice Christianity only in the state-sponsored church - or be persecuted. My church might be one of the 1,500 destroyed or shut down since November of 2000.
- In Sudan, I might be killed or literally enslaved by a Muslim army.
- In Indonesia, I might be given a choice by Muslims: convert to Islam or die, or I might have my church bombed during a worship service.
- In Pakistan I might be jailed by Muslim government officials.

ii. According to David B. Barrett in his book Today's Martyrs, some 165,000 Christians died for their faith in the year 2000. Researchers estimate that since the Day of Pentecost, more than 43 million Christians have been killed for their faith. A persecution index provided by Open Doors with Brother Andrew lists 28 countries with strong or even massive persecution. In another 23 countries Christians suffer discrimination and in some regions severe harassment.

iii. Knowing how Christians have stood for Jesus during the centuries, and how our brothers and sisters are being persecuted all over the world, what kind of a stand to we make for Jesus? Do we advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ with our "leftovers"?

e. He who endures to the end shall be saved: Endures translates the ancient Greek word hupomeno, which literally means to "remain under." When trials and persecution are swirling about, we can't be so desperate for an escape that we will compromise. Instead, we must remain under.

C. The sign of His coming and the end of the age.

1. (14a) The sign: The abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel.

"So when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not" (let the reader understand),

a. The mention of the abomination of desolation is taken from Daniel 11:31: They shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. This describes a complete desecration of the temple, prefigured by Antiochus Epiphanies in the time between the Old and New Testaments.

i. This Antiochus desecrated the temple in Jerusalem in a horrible way. "He desecrated the Temple by offering swine's flesh on the great altar and by setting up public brothels in the sacred courts. Before the very Holy Place itself he set up a great statue of the Olympian Zeus and ordered the Jews to worship it." (Barclay) As bad is this was, it did not fulfill the abomination of desolation, because Jesus said these words long after Antiochus did this.

ii. The Hebrew word translated abomination in Daniel 11:31 is shikkoots. It appears in the Old Testament 29 times, and it has the idea of a filthy, disgusting idol. However, this is more than just an idol. First, it is an idol set in the holy place of the temple in Jerusalem - standing where it ought not, and as Matthew puts it, standing in the holy place (Matthew 24:15). Second, this is a filthy, disgusting idol that brings desolation - the complete and devastating judgment of God.

iii. It is important to point out that this is not merely an idol in set in the Jewish temple. Passages like Jeremiah 7:30, Jeremiah 32:34, and Ezekiel 5:11 describe abominable idols in the temple - but they are not the abomination that brings desolation.

iv. Something nearly like this happened in 40 A.D. when Caligula was the Emperor of Rome. He was a madman and decided to set up a statute of himself in the holy place of the temple in Jerusalem. He sent the statue by ship on its way down to Jerusalem, but he died before it arrived and they never set it up.

b. Essentially, the abomination of desolation speaks of the ultimate desecration of a Jewish temple, an idolatrous image in the holy place itself, which will inevitably result in the judgment of God. It is the abomination that brings desolation.

i. The abomination of desolation is "the object of religious nausea and loathing who has to do with desolation." (Wuest) "The Semetic expression used in Daniel describes an abomination so detestable it causes the Temple to be abandoned by the people of God and provokes desolation … Jesus use of this distinctive expression, however, indicates that the prophecy was not ultimately fulfilled by the events of the Maccabean period." (Lane)

ii. Paul elaborates on the future fulfillment of this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: That day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

iii. Daniel 12:11 gives additional insight: And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1,290 days (until the end). When this sign is set up, the end may be determined - almost three and one-half years to go before the triumphant return of Jesus to this earth.

iv. This is not a new understanding of the abomination of desolation. An early Christian writer named Irenaeus, wrote this in the late second century: "But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom."

c. When Jesus describes the abomination of desolation, there is the presupposition of an operating temple in Jerusalem. You can't have the abomination of desolation without a temple.

i. For centuries, there was only a small Jewish presence in Judea and Jerusalem. Their presence in the region was definite and continuous, but small. It is unthinkable that this weak Jewish presence could rebuild a temple. Therefore the fulfillment of this prophecy was highly unlikely until Israel was gathered as a nation again in 1948. The restoration of a nation that the world had not seen for more than 2,000 years is a remarkable event in the fulfillment and future fulfillment of prophecy.

ii. One of the more fascinating developments in recent history is the focus of Jewish and Arab conflict over the temple mount, where a rebuilt temple must stand. There is a small but dedicated group of Jews who are passionately committed to rebuilding the temple. Today you can visit the Temple Institute in the Jewish Quarter of the old city in Jerusalem. There, a group of Jews absolutely dedicated to rebuilding the temple attempt to educate the public and raise awareness for a new temple. They are trying to replicate everything they can for a new temple, down to the specific pots and pans used for sacrifice.

iii. Israel is a nation again, and efforts to rebuild the temple are for real. The main Jewish group leading the charge to rebuild the temple is an organization called Faithful of the Temple Mount, who say they will continue their efforts to re-establish the Jewish temple on the Mount. One leader in the group said, "We shall continue our struggle until the Israeli flag is flying from the Dome of the Rock." In Israel, there are students being trained for the priesthood, learning how to conduct animal sacrifices in the rebuilt temple.

iv. It is important to understand that most Jews - religious or secular - do not care one bit about building a temple. And if there were one rebuilt, sacrifice would be difficult in a day of aggressive animal rights activists! Yet, there is a small, strong, highly dedicated group who live to see a rebuilt temple - a temple that will fulfill prophecy.

v. Rightly, Christians get excited when they see efforts to rebuild the temple. At the same time, we should understand that the basic impulse behind rebuilding the temple is not of God at all - the desire to have a place to sacrifice for sin. Christians believe that all sacrifice for sin was finished at the cross, and any further sacrifice for sin is an offense to God, because it denies the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

d. In a sense, Jesus tells us nothing new here. He simply calls us back to what was prophesied in Daniel. The comment let the reader understand could have been said by Jesus Himself and not written by Mark.

e. Some say that the abomination of desolation was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed, and that this ties in with the destruction of the temple promised in Mark 13:2. This interpretation must spiritualize Mark 13:19-27, which says that Jesus will return in glory soon after the abomination of desolation.

i. F.F. Bruce rightly notes: "While Josephus mentions the sacrifices offered by the victorious Romans to their legionary standards in the Temple court, he does not describe this action as an abomination, whatever he may have thought privately." (New Testament History, page 383)

2. (14b-18) Jesus warns what should be done when the abomination of desolation appears: get out of there!

"Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter."

a. Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains: Jesus directs this warning to the Jewish people. This is evident in His specific mention of Judea and of the housetop (a common feature of architecture in both ancient and modern Judea). To the citizens of Judea, Jesus says: "When you see the abomination of desolation established, flee because trouble is coming."

i. These words of Jesus have led some to believe that everything Jesus speaks of here was fulfilled in the first century, in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. It is true that this exhortation by Jesus was taken literally by Christians in 66 A.D. when Roman armies first came to Jerusalem. At that time, Christians fled to the mountains and were spared the great destruction of 70 A.D. However, Jesus also said that these events would bring in the Great Tribulation (Mark 13:19) and that those days would culminate in the triumphant return of Jesus (Mark 13:26-27). Since we're still here 2,000 years later, we know that the abomination of desolation wasn't fulfilled in the first century.

ii. These words of Jesus have led some to believe that all Christians - the church as a whole - will go through this time known as the Great Tribulation, and that this warning must be for us. However, Jesus promised to catch His people up from the earth and meet them in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), and told us to pray that would be counted worthy to escape this time (Luke 21:36) and promised to keep His faithful from the time of judgment that would come upon the earth (Revelation 3:10). Jesus gave this warning primarily as a specific, amazing prophecy of events thousands of years before they happened, so the Jewish people during the days of the abomination of desolation would have a unique witness to Jesus and His Word.

b. The warning is urgent: let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. This is consistent with other passages of Scripture, which promise great persecution against the Jewish people during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:13-17).

3. (Mar 13:19-23) Coming on the heels of the abomination of desolation: great tribulation.

"For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, He is there!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand."

a. Tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation … nor ever shall be: Jesus said that this will be the most awful time in all of human history. When we consider the massive calamities humanity has suffered through the centuries, this is a terribly sobering statement. The Book of Revelation describes this terrible time when God pours out His wrath on a God-rejecting world.

i. In 1343 bubonic plague started to sweep across Europe. Over eight years, two-thirds of the population of Europe was afflicted with the plague, and half of those afflicted died - an almost incredible total of 25 million people. This time of tribulation will be worse.

ii. Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century (1993) sets the number of "Lives deliberately extinguished by politically motivated carnage" at between 167 million and 175 million. Most other statisticians are in the same ballpark. Yet, Jesus said that this time of tribulation will be worse.

b. Unless the Lord had shortened those days: If the terrors of the great tribulation were to continue indefinitely, mankind could not survive - so, for the elect's sake, the days will be limited.

c. Then if anyone says to you, "Look, here is the Christ!" or, "Look, He is there!" do not believe it: No one should be deceived about the nature of Jesus' coming. It will not be secret or private, and it won't be a "different" Jesus. In the midst of such tribulation, men will be tempted to fall for false messiahs.

d. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand: Jesus told this to all His followers as a warning, so they would take heed. It isn't just for those who come to faith in Jesus during the Great Tribulation. It isn't just for those who live at the end of the age. It is for everyone to take heed.

i. We live in a cynical age, when people are naturally distrustful and pessimistic when it comes to promises. In the 1970's there was great emphasis on the return of Jesus and being ready for His return. It is easy in our cynical age to think, "I've been waiting for 30 years and Jesus still hasn't come. I don't need to be so ready, and so worked up over something that might not happen for another 30 or 300 years."

ii. It is easy to sympathize with that way of thinking - but Jesus told us take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand. He has reasons why He wants you to take heed, anticipating and being ready for His soon return:

- It has a purifying effect in our lives
- It gives us a sense of urgency
- It makes us bold in speaking to the lost
- It helps us keep a light touch on the things of this world

iii. We should also remember that God has reason for the time He has established. If Jesus caught up His church to meet Him in the air in 1978, how many would have missed the rapture? If He returned in glory seven years later in 1985, how many of us would have gone through the Great Tribulation? We can all see the time is close; any extended time - "injury time" - is pure grace to allow more to come in before the horrific events Jesus described in the Great Tribulation.

iv. Think of it this way: if a person woke every morning and said, "Jesus is coming soon and I have to live like He is coming soon" would it make their life better or worse?

4. (Mar 13:24-27) On the heels of great tribulation: the return of Jesus Christ.

"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven."

a. In those days, after that tribulation: Jesus says that the cosmic catastrophes He describes here happen in those days, the days connected with that tribulation.

b. The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall: Immediately before the return of Jesus, before His coming in the clouds with great power and glory, the world will be wracked by cosmic catastrophes. In a sense, this is the groaning of all creation (Romans 8:22) and it will come to one last crescendo before the return of Jesus.

i. This kind of cosmic calamity is described in many Old Testament passages: Isaiah 13:9-11, Ezekiel 32:7-9, Joel 2:30-31, Amos 8:9-10, Zephaniah 1:14-15.

c. He will send His angels, and gather together His elect: When Jesus returns to this earth after that tribulation, He will come with the saints in heaven and to gather those who have come to Jesus during the tribulation and have survived.

5. (Mar 13:28-31) Jesus speaks more regarding the timing of these events.

"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near; at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."

a. Now learn this parable from the fig tree: The fig tree has a regular pattern - the leaves appear, then summer follows. When you see the leaves, you know summer is near. In the same way, when these signs - particularly the abomination of desolation - appear, the world can know that the triumphant return of Jesus is near; at the doors.

i. This is just as Daniel prophesied in Daniel 12:11: the end will come 1,290 days after the abomination of desolation. In this, Jesus assures that the agonies of the great tribulation will not continue indefinitely; they will have an end. Song of Solomon 2:11-13 makes mention of this: the blossoming of the fig tree shows winter is past and summer is near.

ii. "In contrast to most of the trees of Palestine … the fig loses its leaves in the winter, and in contrast to the almond, which blossoms very early in the spring, the fig tree shows signs of life only later." (Lane)

iii. This was the perfect illustration at this time and place. Jesus taught this on the Mount of Olives, and "The Mount of Olives was famous for its fig trees, which sometimes attained a height of 20 or 30 feet." (Lane) It was also the perfect time, because Jesus taught this right before Passover, when fig trees were in the condition described in the parable - branches tender, leaves sprouting.

b. This generation will be no means pass away till all these things take place: What generation does Jesus refer to? It cannot be the generation of the disciples, because they did not see the triumphant return of Jesus. It is undoubtedly the generation that sees these signs - especially the abomination of desolation. These events and Jesus' return won't be on some 1,000-year timetable, but will happen in succession.

i. It is also possible that the word generation can be understood as a race or people. This may be a promise that the Jewish race will not perish before history comes to a conclusion.

c. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away: Jesus' makes the amazing claim of uttering eternal words. Is this not enough to establish His claim to deity?

6. (Mar 13:32-37) The emphasis: be ready; watch.

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming; in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning; lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"

a. That day and hour no one knows: This means that we must take heed, because we face the danger of being unprepared.

i. Nor the Son, but only the Father: How could Jesus not know that day and hour? Did not He, as God, know all things? Jesus did not know this, but it was not because He gave up His omniscience - He is unchanging God. It was because He voluntarily, in submission to the Father, restricted His knowledge of this event.

b. Take heed, watch: We must watch. Anyone who watches is not caught by surprise. People are not ready because they fail to watch. The emphasis couldn't be more clear:

- Of that day and hour no one knows (Mark 13:32)
- You do not know when the time is (Mark 13:33)
- You do not know when the master of the house is coming (Mark 13:35)

i. Some people have the idea, "We don't know when Jesus is coming, so it doesn't really matter." Others have the idea, "We don't know when Jesus is coming, so we have to find out and set a date." The right response is, "I don't know when Jesus is coming so I have to be alert, eager, and ready for His coming."

ii. Because we do not know when, we must watch. The English name Gregory comes from this Greek word translated watch - the ancient Greek word gregoruo. Perhaps every time we meet someone named Gregory or Greg we should be reminded to watch.

iii. "The more the master is expected, the more diligent ought the servants to be in working, watching, and keeping themselves in readiness. Can one who has received the sentence of death, and has no right to live a moment, need any admonition to prepare to die? Does not a prisoner who expects his deliverance hold himself in continual readiness to leave his dungeon?" (Clarke)

c. Take heed … pray: We must pray, that we may be found worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass (Luke 21:36). The good news in Jesus is that we don't have to go through this calamity that will come. He will take from the earth as many as are ready to go before this calamity begins.

i. When Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. those who listened to and obeyed Jesus escaped the horrible destruction that came upon the city. When it comes to the far greater destruction that will come upon the whole earth, those who listen to and obey Jesus can escape the horrible destruction that will come.

d. It is like a man going to a far country: Jesus speaks now to His followers about how they should live until He comes. Jesus is like the man going to a far country, who left three things to his servants: his house, his authority, and his work. The traveling man also appoints a doorkeeper to keep watch. He may return at any time, and does not want to find his servants sleeping. The point of it all: Watch!

i. "The Parable of the Fig Tree cautions Tribulation saints to watch and know the 'signs of the times.' But the Parable of the Householder warns all of us today." (Wiersbe)

ii. Think of what Jesus has left you:

- His house: The church belongs to Jesus, but He entrusts it to each one of us
- His authority: We are to live and serve in the authority of Jesus, and responsibility is always coupled with authority
- His work: Each servant has his work to do. We aren't responsible for someone else's work, but we certainly are responsible for ours

iii. "There is some evidence to show that the simile of the porter, or door-keeper, is peculiarly apt and indeed a chosen simile for the Christian ministry." (Cole) We must listen to the warning of the doorkeeper - watch and be ready. Until Jesus returns, it is time to be about our Father's business.

iv. "The porter represents the ministers of his Gospel, who should continually watch for the safety and welfare of the whole flock." (Clarke)

© 2001 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission


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