Keep Watch! - Thursday, Mark 13:1-23
Today is the fifth Thursday in Lent, and we are beginning Mark chapter 13. Jesus has come into Jerusalem, and he has shown authority over the Temple and over God's people. What will happen to the temple? What will happen to Jesus? And is God at work breaking in to bring a new age?
In Jesus's time, the temple that Herod built was one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. It was the largest and most impressive building in all of Jerusalem. To help me understand, I think of the most impressive buildings I've ever seen: maybe the US Capitol, or Westminster Abbey, or maybe a giant skyscraper in a great city. I wonder what it was like to hear Jesus say that it would be completely torn down and undone?
Jesus's friends want to know when this will happen. When will the building that is the most important place to come close to God be torn down and torn apart? Who will do it? How can they be ready? I wonder how it felt to hear Jesus speak these hard and scary words?
Jesus says that terrible things will happen before Jerusalem is invaded and the temple is torn down. He says that these things — wars, earthquakes, famine — are like birth pangs. They the painful things, like strong contractions in a mother's body, that will happen before a new age is born. I wonder what new thing is born when the temple is torn down, and people need a new place to come close to God?
Jesus also tells his friends that as this new age comes close, they will also suffer. But he promises that in their suffering, they will tell good news about him to all the nations. I wonder why all the Gentile nations need to hear about Jesus as the one who brings us close to God before the temple is destroyed?
Roman armies marched into Jerusalem about 40 years after Jesus spoke these words. Roman soldiers walked into the Holy of Holies, and they carried off the beautiful things inside. To the Jewish people who worshiped there, it must have felt like the end of the world. I wonder why Jesus says that when that happens, people should run away instead of staying to fight and protect the temple?
I wonder why Jesus tells his friends all about this ahead of time? I wonder why it is important for them to be ready?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to ask God about right now?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to carry with me into the rest of my day?
Jesus of Nazareth, son of God: thank you that we have a book filled with your words and deeds. Give us the wisdom and understanding that comes from your Holy Spirit, so that we can know you better and follow you all the days of our lives. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
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