Mark 13: Jesus the Prophet

We have seen the Jesus the Rabbi or Teacher.  We have watched Jesus the Miracle-Worker.  Less so in Mark than we will see in the other Gospels, we have seen Jesus the Man.  We have been teased along with the question whether Jesus is God.  Today we meet Jesus the Prophet.

"The Destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD" by Francesco Hayez (1791-1882)

I am afraid this is a greatly confusing chapter to me, and it has been to many people through the ages.  Jesus begins by talking about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which we know from history happened around AD 70.  Mixed in this chapter it seems Jesus is also talking about the end of time altogether when he comes again.  He talks about the coming of the kingdom, which could be associated with either of these two or something entirely different or it could be both.  Stripping the topics apart seems very complicated.

Then we are told that no one can know the time when all of this will happen (13:32).  But we are also given hints of when (13:8, 14, 29).  And last we are told to “keep watch” four times (13:33, 34, 35, 37).  So maybe we can know generally when but not exactly?

Like so many other biblical prophecies I have come to before, I am going to have to give some study time to this chapter some day soon.

What do you think?

Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Mark 13: Jesus the Prophet

  1. susan rubio

    I agree. Incredibly confusing chapter. That final imperative seems clear and simple, however. “Stay at your post. Keep watch.” I want to be at my post keeping watch today. I love being a part of this book club . . . keep the posts and the comments coming!

  2. Eddy Efaw

    I love Susan’s clarity here. There are several things we don’t know or can’t know. Out uncertainty about some things shouldn’t hinder us from living out what we KNOW to be true. Thanks for the refocusing Susan. I look forward to hearing more from that study you plan to Jason : )

  3. Thanks, Susan, for getting us back to the point.

    Eddy, summer time?

  4. Melanie

    Well, rats. I was hoping someone would explain the abomination of desolation to me. I see you are all as confused as I am. It’s some comfort to me to know that we don’t have to understand every word and nuance–that it’s okay to skim through this part, admit confusion, and go on. I agree with Susan–let’s stay awake, stay focused, and be watchful.

    • If you were really asking about the “abomination that causes desolation” I might be able to add a bit of insight there. The rest of the chapter is cryptic to me. The NIV appropriately puts this phrase in quotes because it is echoing Daniel 9:27. Most people think this Daniel passage is talking about the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, the Syro-Greek ruler who erected an altar to Zeus in the Temple around 165 BC and had a pig sacrificed on the altar to Zeus. Truly an abomination! Likewise, there will come a day when the Temple will be defiled once again. This is most certainly talking about the marching into the Temple of the Roman Emperor Titus around AD 70 who then plundered the gold of the Temple and had the structure destroyed. The pagan presence in the Temple would be the abomination and the destruction and scattering of the people would be a desolation (c.f., 21:20). Now if you were just using that as an example of an obscure detail and not a question, please forgive.

  5. I think you talking about me teasing either Jesus or god or not. When St Mark write like that, I make me think, it was too direct to the point. That why, in earlier comment, I asking about how you all read Bible in first place. i thought there will be a certain rules that need to be follow, because my rules that I set up earlier is gone already.

    I think this chapter is talking about day of Doomsday and the event happen during that days before Doomsday. It look like that, but I dont know how you all translate that. Seem from the picture the chapter speak about Destruction of Jews temple.

    v32 -No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    It was a familiar stories that being told in our book talking about Doomsday.

    • No, my friend, I was not talking about you! 🙂 I used an English idiom, “to tease out,” which means to figure pr pull something out little by little, like you might pull an animal out of a hiding spot by teasing them with a piece of fruit or meat. Sorry for the confusion!

      Yes, rules for reading the Bible do seem to be hard to hang on to. I love the literature of the Bible. It is so complex and beautiful. The Bible is really good literature, even if a person doesn’t think it is from God. But . . . maybe I am biased.

      Yes, there does seem to be much in this chapter that is about the Last Days or the Second Coming of Christ or Judgment Day or the End of the World (these are all terms Christians might use to refer to the same event). Doomsday makes sense. But there are also some passages in the chapter that seem to be referring to the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70 too. That is what makes this passage complicated.

      You have perceptively picked up on another aspect of the Christian view of the Trinity. All three parts of God are one, yet there are all distinct from each other, while staying one. So the “Son” doesn’t know all the “Father” knows. The best way to explain this is that each plays a specific role in history and life and the control of time and judgment is a Father thing not a Son thing.

  6. Eddy

    Yep. This is still as confusing as the first time I read it with this blog, 😃 I also still appreciate the wisdom and clarity of Susan’s statement above. “Keep watch.” Or as songwriter Chris Rice penned, “Run the earth and watch the sky.”

  7. I am reminded today that we are reading a story in which the main character is brutally murdered in only two more chapters. It may seem silly to need to be reminded of that but that is not like the stories most of us want for our own life. This is not like the stories we normally gravitate to in the movie theatre or book store. (Yes, there are exceptions that remind us of the gospel – today is MLK Day and “Selma” will be packed in the theaters today). But most of us like our heroes to mount a come back and kill the bad guys, not be killed. And day in and day out I find it hard to remember that people were as inclined to persecute Jesus as they were to listen to him and flock to his healing touch.

    Then I am reminded by this complicated chapter that we aren’t just reading a story about a martyr. We are called to adopt the same story. We are called to follow Jesus into suffering and persecution (a reality that is still rather unreal in the Bible Belt). This is to be our story too.

    There is a timeline in this chapter that is hard to understand. My speculative brain wants to connect this to current events. And that is also what makes this chapter hard for me. But Jesus’ timeless message is clear: “Stay true. People aren’t going to like you. Just keep preaching. It is going to get scary, but don’t give up. Don’t get too attached to things because you will need to be ready to respond in a moment. You will never know when that moment will come so stay ready.”

  8. Eddy

    In recent times we’ve heard much about God writing His Story into ours. You don’t hear as much about the fact that our story should become more and more mirrored with the one Jesus lived. Thanks for this sobering reminder.

  9. “Unless God limits those days, no one would escape. But because of his love for those chosen to be his, he will shorten that time of trouble.” (13:20)

    Australia is on fire. California has been. War is not he brink in Iran. A civilian airliner was shot down there as well. A volcano exploded in the Philippines, and one earlier in New Zealand. Puerto Rico has had earthquakes, even after it has not recovered from its hurricane damage. Students are getting shot in schools. And we could on.

    I really need this reminder that God is really the one in charge. I don’t understand how he is controlling and why he is choosing what to limit and what not. But I need to remember, by faith, that God is stemming the tide of darkness.

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