Friday, November 02, 2018

Devotional: When the World Seems to Crumble, Mark 13:24-37

Mark 13.24-37 outline

In Mark 13:1-23 Jesus is mainly predicting the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem that would take place in 70AD. In verse 24 he changes his focus to a time “after that tribulation,” when the Son of Man would come “in clouds with great power and glory.” (26) The disciples had thought that those two events would happen in quick succession but Jesus taught that the destruction of the temple would happen before “this generation” would “pass away” (30), but “no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” (32) when the Son of Man would return. The specific prophecy would encourage Jesus’ followers to trust his word (31) when the world they knew fell apart with the destruction of Jerusalem. It also encourages us to trust Jesus’ promise about his return. It will be fulfilled just as surely as was his prophecy about the temple.

Verses 24-27 describe what will happen when Jesus returns. In this context, the darkening of the sun and moon  and the falling of the stars refers to the overthrow of all the worldly and cosmic powers. The spiritual and political powers that dominate and oppress God’s people will be “shaken” from their places and removed. Jesus will judge the world and set things right for his people. The service and sacrifice (34) we do in this age will be rewarded and we will see that the suffering and difficulties we face now were only preparation for sharing in Jesus’ “power and glory.”

The “lesson of the fig tree” ties the two events together. The Jewish church could have been devastated when Jerusalem was destroyed, but they were not because they knew it was coming. They were “on guard” (23) because Jesus had told them beforehand. This has been true throughout history. When the world crumbles around God’s people they know that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (31) Whether our civilization crumbles because of invasions of Romans, barbarians, Islam, Vikings, communism or secularism we know that Jesus is at the door and his kingdom will continue until he returns.

Jesus closes the chapter with the parable of the doorkeeper and returns to the theme of the chapter: “Be watchful.” How do we do that? While the master is gone we must be doing the work he has assigned to us. Our waiting must be active and vocal. When the world seems to be crumbling around us we don’t withdraw into our own world and hide until we are rescued. We continue to meet the needs of God’s people, serve the communities in which he has placed us, return good for evil and we boldly announce the message of Jesus’ kingdom. Then, when the master returns, our crumbling world will be replaced with a kingdom which “cannot be shaken,” a world set right, an eternity in the presence of God. .So, “stay awake.”  It will all be worth it.

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