Mark 13: “The Olivet Discourse”

Known at the “Olivet Discourse,” if you’ve already read Mark 13, you’re probably scratching your head wondering, “What does all this mean?” I’m sure the disciples were experiencing the same thing hearing what they heard. Things like, “you’ll be handed over to the local councils,” “beaten in the synagogues!” That one really gets to me. Beaten in the synagogues? The place where we worship will become places of beating? This is hard to take in.

Never one to miss a “teachable moment,” Jesus has a rather poignant and frank conversation about the future with his disciples, specifically Peter, James, John, and Andrew. They’ve just left the temple in Jerusalem and are now on their way to Bethany where they’ve been staying during the Festival of Passover. Along the way, one of the disciples makes a remark about beauty of the temple which led Jesus to share a startling prophetic statement regarding the temple.

Just as Jesus doesn’t miss a “teachable moment,” the disciples don’t miss an opportunity to ask Jesus some curious questions regarding the prophecy:

  1. When will these things happen?
  2. What will be the sign?

As Jesus began to share with the disciples he was preparing them for the tough road ahead. He was able to warn them about false messiahs, natural disasters, persecution, and that they needed to be ready. Probably recognizing the concerned look on the disciples face, he also shared with them that through it all, he would be with them.

As we too notice the warning signs and experience the “birth pains ” of the end, Jesus isn’t just speaking to the disciples in Mark 13, but he speaks to us today. He¬†proclaims to us that we too shouldn’t panic, or be afraid of what to say, instead trust and know that the Jesus will be with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

As we look forward to his return:

  • We must be ready.
  • We must continue to proclaim the gospel.
  • We must endure great trials.
  • We must wait patiently.

Ultimately what we learn out of Mark 13 is that Jesus warned his disciples about the future so that they could learn how to live in the present. Jesus didn’t make this predictions so that we would sit around guessing when it would happen, but rather to help us remains spiritually ready and prepared at all times. As we wait for his return we live each closer and closer to Christ, always mindful that ultimately he’s the only one in charge of the timeframe.