Mark 13:3-6, 21-23, 7-8, 24-27, 28-37, recap (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

  • Mark 13:3-6, 21-23
  • 3 While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 Jesus told them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and they will deceive many…21 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘See, here is the Messiah! See, there!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and will perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 And you must watch! I have told you everything in advance.
    • Jesus was well aware that before the end heretics would arise; and indeed it was not long before the Church had its heroics. Heresy arises from five main causes
      • It arises from constructing doctrine to suit oneself
        • The human mind has an infinite capacity for wishful thinking
        • The statement that there was no God was made because they did not wish God to be. If God existed, so much the worse for them; therefore they eliminated Him from their doctrine and from their universe
        • Antinomians begin with the principle that law has been abolished—and in a sense they are right. They go on to say that there is nothing but grace—and again in a sense they are right. They then go on to argue—as Paul shows us in Romans 6—on lines like these…
        • The grace of God has been twisted to suit those who want to sin.
        • The same kind of argument is used by those who declare that the only important thing in life is the soul and that the body does not matter
          • If that is so, the argument runs, then we can do what we like with our bodies. If we are so inclined, we can sate our physical desires
        • One of the most common ways to arrive in heresy is to mold Christian truth to suit ourselves
          • Can it be that the doctrine of the and the doctrine of the second coming have dropped out of much religious thought because they are both uncomfortable doctrines? No one would wish to bring either back in its crude form, but can it be that they have dropped too far out of Christian thought because it does not suit us to believe in them?
      • Heresy arises from over stressing one part of the truth
        • It is always wrong to over stress one attribute of God. If we think only of God’s holiness, we can never attain to any intimacy with him, but rather tend to a deism in which He is entirely remote from the world. If we think only oof God’s justice, we can never be free of the fear of God. We become haunted and not helped by our religion. If we thinking only of God’s love, religion can become a very easy-going sentimental thing. There is more in the NT than Luke 15 
        • Always there is paradox in Christianity God is love, yet God is justice. We are free, yet God is in control. We are creatures of time, yet also creatures of eternity. G. K. Chesterton said that orthodoxy was like walking along a knife-edged ridge with a yawning chasm on either side. One step too much to right or left and disaster follows. We musts life steady and see it whole
      • Heresy arises from trying to produce a religion which will suit people, one which will be popular and attractive
        • To do that it has to be watered down. The sting, the condemnation, the humiliation, the moral demand have to be taken out of it. It is not our job to alter Christianity to suit people, but to alter people to suit Christianity
      • Heresy arises from divorcing oneself from the Christian fellowship
        • Anyone who thinks alone runs a grave danger of thinking astray
        • If people find that their thinking separates them from the fellowship of others, the chances are that there is something wrong with their thinking
      • Heresy arises from the attempt to be completely intelligible
        • Here is one of the great paradoxes. We are duty bound to try to understand our faith. But because we are finite and God is infinite we can never fully understand. For that very reason a faith that can be neatly stated in a series of propositions and neatly proved in a series of logical steps like a geometrical theorem is a contradiction in terms
  • Mark 13:7-8, 24-27
  • 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be alarmed; these things must take place, but it is not yet the end. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains…24 “But in those days, after that tribulation: The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; 25 the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 He will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
    • Here Jesus unmistakably speaks of His coming again.
      • But this is important—He clothes the idea in three pictures which are part and parcel of the apparatus connected with the day of the Lord
        • The day of the Lord was to be preceded by a time of wars
          • It is abundantly clear that when Jesus spoke of wars and rumors of wars He was using pictures which were part and parcel of Jewish dreams of the future
        • The day of the Lord was to be preceded by the darkening of sun and moon
          • The OT itself is full of that and again the popular literature of Jesus’ day is full of it as well
          • Once again it is clear that Jesus is using the popular language which everyone knew
        • It was a regular part of the imagery that the Jews were to be gathered back to Palestine from the four corners of the earth
          • The OT itself is full of that idea
        • When we read the pictorial words of Jesus about the second coming, we must remember that He is giving us neither a map of eternity nor a timetable to the future, but that He is simply using the language and the pictures that many Jews knew and used for centuries before Him
        • But it is extremely interest sting to note that the things Jesus prophesied were in fact happening. He prophesied wars, and the dreaded Parthians were in fact pressing in on the Roman frontiers. He prophesied earthquakes, and within 40 years the Roman world was aghast at the earthquake which devastated Laodicaea and at the eruption of Vesuvius, which buried Pompeii in lava. He prophesied famines, and there was famine in Rome in the days of Claudius. 
        • It was in fact such a time of terror in the near future that when Tacitus began his histories he said that everything happening seemed to prove that the gods were seeking not salvation but vengeance on the Roman Empire
        • In this passage, the one thing that we must retain is the fact that Jesus did foretell that He would come again. The imagery we can disregard
  • Mark 13:28-37
  • 28 “Learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that he is near—at the door. 30 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 32 “Now concerning that day or hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son —but only the Father. 33 “Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming. 34 “It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his servants, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert. 35 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know when the master of the house is coming—whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. 36 Otherwise, when he comes suddenly he might find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!”
    • There are three special things to note in this passage
      • It is sometimes held that when Jesus said that these things were to happen within a generation He was wrong
        • But Jesus was right, for this sentence does not refer to the second coming
        • It could not when the next sentence says He does not know when that day will be
        • It refers to Jesus’ prophecies about the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, and they were abundantly fulfilled
      • Jesus says that He does not know the day or the hour when He will come again
        • There were things which even He left without questioning in the hand of God
        • There can be no greater warning and rebuke to those who work out dates and timetables as to who He will come again
        • Surely it is nothing less than blasphemy for us to inquire into that of which our Lord consented to be ignorant
      • Jesus draws a practical conclusion
        • We are like those who know that their master will come, but who doe not know when 
        • We live in the shadow of eternity
        • That is no reason for fearful and hysterical expectation. But it means that day by day our work must be completed. It means that we must so live that it does not matter when He comes
        • It gives us the great task of making every day fit for Him to see and being at any moment ready to meet Him face to face
        • All life becomes a preparation to meet the King
  • Conclusion
  • We began by saying that this was a very difficult chapter, but that in the end it had permanent truth to tell us
    • It tells us that only God’s people can see into the secrets of history
      • Jesus saw the fate of Jerusalem although others were blind to it. Leaders of real stature must be men and women of God
      • To guide any country its leaders must be themselves God-guided
      • Only those who know God can enter into something of the plan of God
    • It tells us two things about the doctrine of the second coming
      • It tells us that it contains a fact we forget or disregard at our peril
      • It tells us that the imagery in which it is clothed is the imagery of Jesus’ own time, and that to speculate on it is useless, when Jesus Himself was content not to know. The one thing of which we can be sure is that history is going somewhere; there is a consummation to come
    • It tells us that of all things to forget God and to become immersed in material concerns is most foolish
      • The truly wise never forget that they must be ready when the summons comes
      • For those who live in that memory, the end will not be terror, but eternal joy

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