“Be Alert in Adversity”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Mark 13 Part 1
Turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 13. This is the longest sermon by Jesus as recorded by Mark. You can see it starts in verse one of chapter 13 and runs down through the end of the chapter.
This sermon is known as the Olivet Discourse. And the reason for that is because Jesus and the disciples are on the Mount of Olives. Mark 13:3, “as he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning him privately.”
So Jesus and his disciples are on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple. In verses 1 and 2, Jesus predicts the destruction of Israel and the Temple. And then he and the disciples leave the Temple. They go out of the Eastern gate and down into the Kidron Valley and across a little stream. Once they cross the stream, they then walk up the slope to the Mount of Olives. And there Jesus and his disciples sit, looking out over the Kidron Valley back toward the temple. As the sun sets on Jerusalem that night, the sun brilliantly reflects off of the glowing gold of the Temple. And it is in this setting that Jesus reflects with His disciples on the future concerning that Temple and concerning the end of the age.
The Olivet discourse also occurs in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. And we won’t be preaching a harmony of all of these passages this morning, but this Olivet Discourse is well known to be one of the most hotly debated passages in all of the New Testament. Those who hold to the same systems of eschatology differ as to exactly what these things are referring to. Very smart Bible scholars are miffed by it, let alone do they explain it to others! As Bible readers, we would have to like to have a little more background and context as to some of these statements by the Lord. Nevertheless, what we have is exactly what the Lord wants us to have and we will do the best we can with what we have and may the Lord be merciful!
So, what we’re going to do today is merely introduce this entire chapter. We’re going to see how the passage is put together. Before you get discouraged about this, let me say that at the end I’m going to put you in 2 stories, not 1, but 2 stories that will tie the whole chapter together and make it more clear for us.
I think you’ve noticed, that I do require you to work through my sermons with me. And I somewhat apologize for that, but not really. Now, the subject matter we’re dealing with is not easy to understand, just by the very nature of the material itself.
So we’re going to do a lot of explanation of the passage this morning. But knowing how this passage is put together is vitally important to understanding end time events. This will take a bit of explanation, but I think if you work through this with us and you have a pen out and you make a few notes that you will be able to get most of what is said. I’m going to do the best that I can and if you do the best that you can, I think will get somewhere together. And just hang on until the end. We’re going to have not 1 but 2 stories and you’re the star of each! And I think those stories will simplify and make it vivid for us. So let’s have it, shall we?
The passage begins in verses one and two and Jesus predicts the destruction of that Temple as you can see it there across the Kidron Valley. And the disciples are aware that Jesus just predicted that and so they ask him about when this destruction will happen. Mark 13:4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”
So we are clearly in a prophetic passage. This is prophecy. This kind of reading material that we have in Mark 13 concerns the prediction of the future. And it is important to keep in mind how prophecy in the Bible often works.
In fact, it is absolutely required that you keep this in mind. Keep what in mind? This: when Jesus answers the disciples question concerning the fulfillment of these things, what Jesus does is he gives two perspectives. This is vitally important for the rest of the message. When Jesus answers their question in verse 4, he gives two perspectives.
Number one, he gives the near fulfillment of his prediction [**right hand] and, number two he gives the far fulfillment of his prediction [**left hand]. So it is vitally important to keep that in mind that Jesus has in his mind an event that will happen in the very near future [*right] and an event that will happen in the far future [*left].
And what these two events are, are these: number one the near fulfillment is that Jesus is predicting[*right] the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. And number two Jesus is predicting [*left] His Second Coming when He comes at the end of the Tribulation Period.
So we have Jesus addressing the [right] near fulfillment of these things in A.D. 70 when the Romans come and destroy the Temple and [*left] we have a more future fulfillment of these things when Jesus comes back the second time.
Now, do you think the disciples in this passage know this? No, they don’t. They don’t understand the Messiah’s ministry. We’ve seen this throughout this gospel of Mark.
Do you remember what we said that the Jews during the time of Jesus believed about the coming of the Messiah? In our study in this gospel, we saw that the Jews believed that when Messiah comes the first time he would set up his kingdom on earth right then and there. In the Jews’ minds, Messiah would be an unparalleled ruler, a man of incredible might and authority and he would rescue the Israelites from their enemies and turn this world into his kingdom. And, the Jews believed that this would all happen the first time the Messiah came. And the disciples know that Jesus is the Messiah! They expect him to usher in His kingdom right away!
So this is what the disciples in our passage this morning believe. They believe Jesus is going to set up the kingdom right now. So when Jesus predicts in Mark 13:2 that the Temple would be destroyed, the disciples “read into” that prediction. The disciples think Jesus is predicting as well that He’s going to start His kingdom.
So, here’s Jesus and He predicts the destruction of the Temple in v. 2 and then the disciples are reading into that in v. 4 thinking, “Oh, he’s predicting that he will set up his kingdom on this earth. He’s going to deliver Israel from the Romans and set up his kingdom now and I want to know when that’s going to happen and I want to know the sign that that’s going to happen.” And so they asked the question that they do in verse four, “when will these things be and what will be the sign.”
So the disciples are assuming that the destruction of the Temple that Jesus just predicted [**right hand gesture] happens simultaneously with [**left hand gesture**] the Messiah setting up his kingdom on earth [**clap hands**]. But in fact, there’s a great number of years in between those two events.
There is a near fulfillment [**right hand gesture**] of these things and a [**left hand gesture**] far fulfillment of these things that Jesus predicts. But the disciples don’t understand that! Some of these things are fulfilled in A.D. 70 [right hand] and some of these things are fulfilled in the end times [left hand] and when the disciples asked this question, they think it’s all [clap hands] one event.
Now, how will Jesus respond to their lack of understanding? Jesus is aware that they are confused…He knows they think He’s going to start up the kingdom right now in their lifetimes on earth….So, He knows they are confused.
But…get this… He answers their question as if they asked the right question. He predicts that indeed the temple will be destroyed [**right hand], but that it will take another [**left hand**] coming of Jesus before the kingdom is established on this earth, in the Millennium.
Now, let me show you briefly Jesus’ response in the passage. To do that, let’s first really try to understand the disciples’ question in verse four and how Jesus answers the question.
Mark 13:4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”
The disciples have two questions. And these two questions form the outline of Jesus’ response. Let’s note their question. They want to know, number one, “when will these things be?” Now, here’s the thing: Jesus answers that question as if they are asking the question this way, “Lord, when will the Temple be destroyed [**right hand**] and [**left hand**] when will you set up the kingdom?” That’s their first question, “When…when will these things be?”
But they have a second question. Their second question is at the end of verse four, which is, “what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” “Lord, what are the indicators that will tell us when you are about to set up the kingdom?” They are asking the question like this [**with hands together**] as if it’s one event, “What visible events will take place before the Temple is destroyed and before you set up Your kingdom?”
But Jesus answers the question as if they are asking the question this way [**hands separate**], “Lord, what are the signs, the indicators that will tell us that [**right hand**] the destruction of the Temple is near and what are the indicators that will tell us [**left hand**] when you will set up the kingdom?” Jesus clarifies for them that these events are not one and the same.
And Jesus starts out by answering the second of those questions found there in v.4. Jesus first answers the question concerning the indicators, the signs, the visible events that would tell someone how near the destruction of the Temple is as well as the signs that would tell someone how near it is when Jesus would set up the kingdom. He answers both of those questions concerning these signs in vv.5-27. He answers them both in two sections, one for each.
First, in the first section, in vv. 5-13, Jesus answers their question and gives them the signs by which they would know that the destruction of the Temple is about to take place. So, vv. 5-13 are signs that, if you saw them, you would know the temple is about to be destroyed.
Second, in vv. 14-23, Jesus addresses the question about the visible events that precede the time when He is about to set up His kingdom on this earth. Verses 14-23 are signs that if you saw them, you would know that Jesus is about to set up his kingdom on this earth. These events of course are the events of the seven year tribulation, the 70th set of seven years spoken of by Daniel the prophet. And we’ll get into that in more detail later. And then you have the actual coming of the Son of Man is in verses 24-27.
So, verses 5 all the way to verse 27 is Jesus’ response to the disciples’ second question. What was their question again? They asked, v.4, “what will be the sign when all these things take place?” Jesus answers their question as if they asked this, “Lord, what are the signs that will tell us that [**right hand**] the destruction of the Temple is near and what are the signs that will tell us [**left hand**] when you will set up the kingdom?” The signs that point to the destruction of the Temple are from verses 5-13 and the signs that point to Jesus setting up his kingdom are from verses 14-27.
TRANS: K, how we doing? Those stories are coming and they will put it all together for you. Hang on now!
But not only do the disciples want to know the signs that these events are about to take place, they also want to know when the events will happen. Remember, they asked in verse four, “Tell us, when will these things be?”
Jesus begins to address that question and the actual timing of these things in verse 27. And really, you remember, what they are asking in effect is “Lord, when will [**right hand**] the destruction of the temple happen and [**left hand**] when will you set up the kingdom?” That’s what we all want to know, is when! That’s what every date setter has claimed to know as well!
So that question of when is answered in a single section in verses 28-37. He answers the question “when will the destruction of the temple happen” and “when will you come to start your kingdom on earth” … He answers both those questions in a single section. The same answer is for both questions.
The answer to both of those questions of when will the destruction of the Temple happen and when will Jesus set up his kingdom… The answer to both of those questions is found in verses 28 to 37. And you can see that Jesus is answering that question when he says in verse 29 “when you see these things happen.” Also he’s addressing the timing of these events when he says verse 32, “but of that day or hour no one knows.” As well verse 33, “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.” The answer is you don’t know. You don’t know the when the temple will be destroyed and you don’t know when I will come and set up my kingdom. But the signs themselves give you the indication that you need.
Explain The Generation That Won’t Pass Away
What we’ll do here, to bring the whole chapter together, is camp out on verses 29-30. And then we’ll put you into 2 stories to help you understand.
Mark 13:29-30 29 “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
These verses tie together the whole chapter, really. We’re talking about the signs and the timing. Now, the thing to keep in mind is that these 2 verses describe both the near and far fulfillments. Whether you’re living around AD 70 or you’re in the tribulation.
If you see these signs, whether you are living in the time of Jesus or you’re living in the tribulation, Jesus promises you’ll see the fulfillment of these things if you see the right signs. If you’re living around AD 70, if you see the right signs described in vv. 5-13, then your generation will not pass away until the destruction of AD 70 happens.
If you’re living in the tribulation, and you see the signs of verses 24 and 25, the sun darkening and the moon not shining, stars falling…if you see those signs in the tribulation, then your generation will not pass away until the Son of Man comes to set up His kingdom on earth.
To help us understand that, let’s place ourselves in 2 stories.
Picture yourself during the time of Jesus. You and your family are, by trade, carpenters, living in Jerusalem. You wear robes and sandals all day! Your son wears a robe! Now, let’s say you pick up the newspaper, the Jerusalem Post and one morning you pick it up and you read all about the events that Jesus predicted from verses 5-13.
Verse 5, you turn the page of your newspaper, and you read a story about a false prophet and you turn the page again and you read about someone claiming to be the Messiah. Then, you look below of the fold of the newspaper, and you read about v. 7, of wars and reports of wars. And you’re scared! Then you remember Jesus’ words in v. 7 Mark 13:7 “…do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.” Those things you just read that day do not indicate the end of the world when Jesus would return to set up the Kingdom, Jesus says.
That day, you went to work or you’re in the kitchen and you even feel an earthquake. You and the buddies at work were talking about all the famines in the land. And you’re tempted to be scared that the end of the world is at hand, but you remember that indeed, no! You remember Jesus words that this is not the end of the world, but end of verse 8, this is just the beginning of birth pangs.
You recall as well, Jesus’ words in verse 30. You and your spouse talk about how Jesus said that since you are seeing these signs, our generation will not pass away until the Temple is destroyed! Now you know when the Temple will be destroyed. And then the temple is destroyed in just a few years, in AD 70, just like Jesus predicted.
Now, fast forward into the future. Let’s say you’re living during the tribulation period, starting in verse 14. You and your family work as graphic designers in Jerusalem and you wear spaced-aged material … [ahem]…polyester…all day! Your son wears polyester! And because of the rapture of the church that just happened, you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior! You get saved just after the rapture of the church!
And you wake up one morning, and whip out your cell phone and you read the news. And there is a report from the Jerusalem Post that there was a man described just like Mark 13:14. Someone has seen the Abomination of Desolation…the antichrist setting himself up in the Temple as God! And you recall Jesus’ words at the end of v. 14 and you grab your family and you flee to the mountains! Verse 15, you race out of your house and don’t take anything! And tribulation destruction begins to happen! 100 pound hailstones are falling from the sky, massive earthquakes and all the rest. This is, v.19 says, the tribulation! A time of unprecedented destruction and you’re living in it! You’re seeing the signs!
And verse 24, you see the tribulation! You see the sun becoming dark and the moon not giving its light and there you see …up there…star after star falling from heaven! And you and your family recall Jesus words, where He says, v. 29, Mark 13:29-30 29 ” …. when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
And you take great courage! You’re encouraged amidst all this destruction that Jesus is, v. 26, coming back soon to set up His kingdom. And there He is; He’s coming in great power and glory!
If you’re living in the tribulation, and you see these signs happening, your generation will not pass away until the Son of Man comes to set up his kingdom on earth.
So if you’re living previous to the destruction of the Temple and you see false Messiahs and wars and rumors of wars and earthquakes and famines, if you see those things, v. 30 says your generation will not pass away until the destruction of A.D. 70 takes place.
And if you’re living in the tribulation, previous to the coming of the Son of Man to set up his kingdom after the tribulation and you see the events of the tribulation, like the sun becoming dark or the stars falling or the moon not giving its light, if you see these signs, Jesus says then your generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Mark 13 Part 1
One thing that some folks are not aware of is that the Bible’s teaching on end time events , events that will happen in the future, but were often not aware of is how applicable these teachings are. The Bible clearly gives us motivation to live godly in light of the appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And so I would like you, in conclusion here, to turn to one of those passages. It is 1 John 2:28. What I want to do is read vv28-3:3.
John here exhorts us concerning the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth. Do you believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ?
1 John 2:28-3:3 28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. 1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Do you want to have a “well done, thou good and faithful servant” when Jesus comes back? Or do you, verse 28, thank you will shrink away from him in shame at his coming?
How would you know this? Verse 29, if you know that he is righteous you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him. Is your life one that is characterized by someone who practices righteousness. When they look at you and others testify of you… Are you one who practices righteousness?
Is this you? By God’s grace alone are you one who practices righteousness? Chapter 3 verse one, do you see how great a love the father has bestowed upon us? If you have received Christ as your Savior if you have turn from your wicked ways and if you have trusted in Jesus that he paid the penalty for your sin on the cross And that he was raised from the dead the third day and you ask the Lord to say to you and you, by his grace, seek to turn from sin and when you send, it grieves your heart, if this is you, then you are a child of God. How great a love the father has bestowed upon us that we should be called as such.
Now when recall that, but we are! Verse two, we are now the children of God. We do not yet know what we will be like in the future. John says verse two “it has not appeared as yet what we will be.” But we do know something. We know that when he appears, we will be like him. There will be a time that when we see Jesus for who he really is and glory, whether he comes in the rapture or receive him and glory, we know that when he appears we will instantly be changed to be like him. And the reason we will be changed to be like him is because, end of verse two, we will see him just as he is. There’ll be something so magnificent about the sight of Christ and there will be and effective power in the meeting of our eyes upon him when that happens we will be changed in an instant.
Now, do you have that confident expectation? If you do, then you won’t wait until then to begin becoming conformed into the image of Christ. Verse three… 1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Are you purifying yourself just as he is pure? Are you seeking righteousness to practice it? Are you, when you sin, are you repenting of it and asking the Lord to forgive you of your sin? When was the last time that you really spent some time asking the Lord to forgive you of your sins? Talk to him about how you are a sinner he spent time doing that you asked the Lord and pleaded with him to cleanse you by the blood of his son. When was the last time you did that? Are you purifying yourself just as he is pure? Are you seeking the righteousness and holiness and are you separating yourself from the horrible sin of this world has to offer you?
Even though it is so easy to look at it and it seems so right, are you distancing yourself from the pleasures of this world? Are you totally given over to Jesus and his gospel and his soon return? If you are, then you can sing #184