Read Mark 13
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.
20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
24 “But in those days, following that distress,
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Hour Unknown
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
We’re currently living in a season that absolutely none of us saw coming. A few months ago, when the calendar turned to 2020, no one could have guessed how dramatically our lives would change this year. However, even though none of us could have guessed what was coming, Jesus reminds us in this passage that we should be prepared for times like these. The chapter opens with one of the disciples marveling at the large and powerful temple. Surely these stones would remain standing forever! Yet Jesus replies to His disciple by remarking that not a single one of those buildings would last. Even the sturdiest parts of our society have a shelf life.
Jesus then goes on to challenge His followers to be on guard for a whole host of potential difficulties. These are not Jesus’s most quoted or memorable words, and it’s likely because we don’t love the message. Most of us would prefer to be comforted rather than challenged. But in this season of our lives, we’re reminded that Jesus was right: in this world we will have trouble. The good news is that isn’t how the story ends. We can also trust that Jesus has overcome the world and will one day make all things right. Until that day, though, we have a job to do. We must stand firm in the faith and be on guard for whatever troubles may come our way.
What most stands out to you about this chapter?
How did you feel when reading this passage? Nervous? Surprised? Prepared?
What do you think it means to live “on guard”?
If Jesus were to come back next week, what changes would you want to make in your life in order to prepare?
Did You Know?
In 20 BC, Herod the Great began to remodel and rebuild the temple. Herod made it one of the most beautiful buildings in Jerusalem to appease the Jews. The magnificent building project would not finish until 64 AD. Jesus’s prophecy in this chapter would come true in 70 AD, when the Romans completely destroyed the temple.