March 22, 2018
Now that the topic of predicted disaster has been raised – four of the disciples ask privately for a timeline and the warning signs. Don’t we all convert apocalyptic description into millennialist prediction?
Jesus won’t deliver – and warns them about people who will purport to predict. Yep, this is the sequence, and this bad stuff comes now – like birth pangs of labour come before the birth of a child.
He does warn them about their own persecution, as they spread the word once it is no longer a big secret. Once they tell, they will suffer – and will be given words. They will be betrayed by those close to them. Perseverance pays.
He warns them of a ‘desolating sacrilege’ – likely a desecration of the temple – they should run for the hills, and not pause to prepare or pack. Pity those pregnant and nursing then – refugees – God forbid in winter. Again, is this a Jesus quote, or a Mark restrospective?
There will be suffering. There will be false prophets. Hang in. Here is the ‘little apocalypse’ of Mark: dark sun, moon dark, stars falling, powers shaken – then, only then, ‘son of man coming in great glory’, gathering elect from all over.
Here’s a disjointed reference – watch the fig tree budding, and you know it’s nearly spring – so when you see suffering disasters, the collision of worlds is coming near, son of man at the gates.
He claims this generation will not pass away until all this has happened – sure enough Jerusalem is levelled in that generation – but not the end of the world as we know it, or the second coming…
Here’s an un-Markan claim: ‘heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’ That’s a pretty ‘high’ understanding of the person and work of Jesus, at least for this gospel – isn’t it?
When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple,
Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,
‘Tell us, when will this be,
and what will be the sign
that all these things
are about to be accomplished?’
Then Jesus began to say to them,
‘Beware that no one leads you astray.
Many will come in my name and say,
“I am he!” and they will lead many astray.
When you hear of wars and rumours of wars,
do not be alarmed;
this must take place,
but the end is still to come.
For nation will rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom;
there will be earthquakes in various places;
there will be famines.
This is but the beginning
of the birth pangs.
‘As for yourselves, beware;
for they will hand you over to councils;
and you will be beaten in synagogues;
and you will stand before governors and kings
because of me,
as a testimony to them.
And the good news
must first be proclaimed
to all nations.
When they bring you to trial
and hand you over,
do not worry beforehand
about what you are to say;
but say whatever is given you at that time,
for it is not you who speak,
but the Holy Spirit.
Brother will betray brother to death,
and a father his child,
and children will rise against parents
and have them put to death;
and you will be hated by all
because of my name.
But the one who endures to the end
will be saved.
‘But when you see the desolating sacrilege
set up where it ought not to be
(let the reader understand),
then those in Judea must flee to the mountains;
someone on the housetop must not go down
or enter the house to take anything away;
someone in the field must not turn back to get a coat.
Woe to those who are pregnant
and to those who are nursing infants in those days!
Pray that it may not be in winter.
For in those days there will be suffering,
such as has not been
from the beginning of the creation that God created
no, and never will be.
And if the Lord had not cut short those days,
no one would be saved;
but for the sake of the elect,
whom he chose,
he has cut short those days.
And if anyone says to you at that time,
“Look! Here is the Messiah!”
“Look! There he is!”
—do not believe it.
False messiahs and false prophets will appear
and produce signs and omens,
to lead astray, if possible, the elect.
But be alert;
I have already told you everything.
‘But in those days,
after that suffering
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see
“the Son of Man coming in clouds”
with great power and glory.
Then 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.
‘From the fig tree learn its lesson:
as soon as its branch becomes tender
and puts forth its leaves,
you know that summer is near.
when you see these things taking place,
you know that he is near,
at the very gates.
Truly I tell you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.