by Philip Layton
Jesus describes end-of-time signs
- To what extent can we know anything about the end times?
- If we cannot know the date of Jesus’ coming, is there any benefit in thinking about the end of time – his return? If not, then why does the Bible mention it so much
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Going Deeper – from 'Words of Life'
Any tourist who goes to Rome cannot miss visiting St Peter’s: the square, the basilica, the Vatican museums. It is indeed grandiose and people tend to be in awe, feeling dwarfed by the huge dimensions. A similar admiration for the Temple in Jerusalem would have been shown by any rural visitor: ‘What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!’ (v 1).
Those stones had been part of an enormous project lasting almost a century. The historian Josephus was also amazed by the beauty of the Temple, which appeared ‘to strangers when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow, for as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceeding white’. Rejecting the Temple’s legitimacy was therefore no small matter. Jesus exits the Temple for the last time. He reveals that this imposing building will not last, it will be destroyed.
This seeming impossibility is questioned by some of the disciples (v 4) who privately ask to know about the times and the signs of such destruction. Here is Mark’s apocalyptic chapter: ‘Watch out’ (v 5); ‘Be on your guard’ (vv 9, 23); ‘Watch!’ (v 37). Things are about to change. What appears to be all-powerful, dominating, to the human eye will pass away. An Italian proverb says: ‘Uomo avvisato è mezzo salvato’ (‘To be forewarned is to be forearmed’).
The disciples are to keep awake to what is going on around them, not dominated by these things. They are to remain confident that the Holy Spirit will be there at the right time (v 11).
‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’ (v 31).
Beverly IvanyTags: Mark