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Focus Verses: Mark 13:32-34
32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
These apocalyptic passages provoke more questions than provide answers. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. seems to fit the description of much of what Jesus is foretelling. Those events, however, do not adequately embody the full sense of finality and ultimate vindication Jesus describes.
It seems, to me, that Jesus was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, and, at the same time, using it as a picture of the final day when the Son of Man would return. I think he was pointing to the immediate crises and struggles of their time, while simultaneously putting them in the context of the ultimate crises and struggles of all time and all creation.
While the passage may be mysterious, it's important to not let the clear message of Jesus' words get lost among the questions.
1. Life will be filled with struggles and hardships. These struggles are part of the ultimate struggle (Mk. 13:5-13).
2. Believers need to be on guard because our troubled world is filled with false claims, false teachers, false Christs, and false miracles (Mk. 13:21-23).
3. Jesus, the Son of Man, will ultimately be vindicated and bring justice and redemption (Mk. 13:26-27).
4. Following Jesus is the way to be watchful and ready for anything that happens whenever it happens (Mk. 13:32-36).
Response and Action:
Am I living in the last days? Yes. If not the final days before Christ's return, certainly the last days for me (I'll be doing good if I live another 30 years). The difficult events and problems of my time and life are part of the ultimate struggles and conflicts of all time and all life. I need to follow Jesus with all my heart in order to be ready for this day, every day to come, and the never ending day of eternity.
O God, I want to be watchful, alert, and ready. Help me to follow Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give me the peace and hope that comes from trusting him to sustain and provide for all my todays and tomorrows. Amen.
Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
by N. T. Wright