The thirteenth chapter of Mark’s gospel can be a little frightening or confusing. If we look at the message paragraph by paragraph, Jesus tells His followers about:
+ The impending destruction of the Temple
+ Coming persecution for His followers
+ The Desolating Sacrilege (?)
+ The coming of the Son of Man (and a warning against false messiahs)
This is all framed within a discussion about the end times, as this chapter is called by some scholars “The Mini-Apocalypse”. Reading this section of Mark puts our minds on biblical books like Daniel and Revelation.
Over the centuries, followers of Jesus have heard these words as an appeal for us to be watchful and vigilant. We should be waiting for Christ’s return. Unfortunately, over the centuries, some followers of Jesus have tried to draw from the Bible’s apocalyptic sections an elaborate plan and timetable for the end of the world and our Savior’s second coming. I say, unfortunately, because sometimes people try to manipulate the timing that they predict for their own power and prestige, and as a result, rather than bringing clarity to the world and God’s people they have created conflict and confusion.
That can be overcome if we all listen to a lesson from Jesus himself in Mark 13.
Jesus said: “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” (Mark 13:32-33)
The good news is that we will be together again with our Lord (either in heaven or here on earth.) Only God knows when. Until then, we need to stay in good practice for the face to face introduction.
God, I hear You speak and see Your works in the world around me. Help me to be ready for my life in Your full presence, whenever that day comes for me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.