The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting. We encourage you to please contact us if you would like to know more about us.

Click here: Mark 13:1-13, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 13:1-13, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

Mark 13:1-13, The Beginning & The End:

  • Ever heard of tell-tales? Tell-tales are marks or signs that clearly show something has happened or exists, often something that is a secret or that needs to be revealed. You would look for tell-tale signs when you suspect a child is being abused, when someone recently started doing drugs, etc. they are really markers you observe before making a diagnoses.
  • Now, coming to Mark 13, many of us would read these words as if they are a list of tell-tale signs for a future event. But Jesus’ words were to the disciples and the coming judgement on the religion of the Jews, and in a sense, some of which that would take place later on.
  • Therefore, this morning we’ll be looking at the end of Temple worship, and the beginning of the church age as Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple, and the coming triumphs and tribulations the church age will experience until He returns.
  • And in addition, we’ll also look at the encouragement for the church today, and what we can take away from these verses.

1. The End of Temple Worship:

  • Text – 13:1-2
  • Explanation – This is more than the end of Temple worship, this is to be the end of Judaism. The end of Israel’s religious hypocrisy. For Jesus has come to show them that He is the Messiah, that there will no longer be a need for the sacrificial system.
  • So as Jesus was leaving the temple. He was not impressed, but apparently his disciples were. They were captivated by the brilliance of the Temple’s outer building. However, in Mark 11:11-17, we learned that Jesus had already seen the deep corruption within the Temple.
  • We saw that the temple represented the condition of the religious leaders, and the majority of the nation of Israel. But in the words of Jesus, they were like “whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
  • Illustration – However, coming out after a long day in the Temple courts, we see that the disciples might not have grasped all of Jesus’ teaching. The Temple was definitely a sight to behold. The main part of the temple was some six stories high with one particular wall rising fifteen stories.
  • Some of the foundation stones were twenty metres long by eight metres wide and four metres high. Huge brass gates and a brass dome, along with tons of gold, made it glow in the sunlight. So it is not hard to understand why the disciples admired the building.
  • Application – But it does show us that they haven’t truly understood the condemnation on the Nation of Israel. For if they truly heard Christ, they would not have stepped out admiring the building, they would have come out bend forward with heavy hearts.
  • Therefore, Jesus responds to reveal their lack of understanding. Verse 2. Jesus didn’t say this because He was upset, He said it because they didn’t fully get it.
  • Conclusion – In fact, some of these disciples would live to see this destruction take place. Jesus’ words were fulfilled in 70 AD. These massive stones were torn down, and the fires caused the gold to melt into the cracks. So when the Roman soldiers scavenged for gold, even the huge foundation stones were unearthed.
  • So when the disciples hear that the Temple would be destroyed, they’re thinking it is the end of the world. They might think back to 586 BC, to when Solomon’s temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. More so, the disciples made the connection that not only will temple be destroyed, but Jerusalem itself, the Jewish world.
  • Bridge – Now, when you consider their understanding, it would have been deeply devastating. Remember, the average Jew, including the disciples, expected that Messiah would be the one to deliver them from the Roman oppression. He was supposed destroy Rome, not Jerusalem. He would condemn Gentile paganism, not Judaism.
  • And for what? Their rebellion, their rejection of the messiah, but also because the change needed to take place. Therefore our passage continues with…

2. The Beginning of the Church Age:

  • Text – 13:3-13
  • Explanation – So just for clarity, the church age began in Acts 2 with Pentecost. But as Jesus and his disciples headed away from the temple and ascended the Mount of Olives, they had a stunning view of the temple, and of Jerusalem.
  • This is when they asked, “‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?’” (vv. 2–3). I believe they eagerly asked because they clearly believed Jesus’ prophecy of doom.
  • So as we examine these verses, I do believe that these were tell-tales, which in a sense pointed to the destruction of Jerusalem, however, I also believe they point out the beginning of the earth birth pangs, which the church is to endure.
  • Illustration – And so, Jesus, in answer to their question, told his disciples what to expect in their near future. And the first thing He tells them, is to expect troubles (v5-8).
  • The first problem they will face is the opposition of false teachers. And we see this in the writings of the apostles. Paul, Peter, and John refute false teachings and teachers on numerous occasions. In fact, there were various sects established not long after Christ’s ascension, and some of these guys sneaked into established churches. Theudus (Acts 5:36) and Elymas (Acts 13:8) are just two examples.
  • However, more false teachers rose up. One commentator notes that, up to the year 1953, there has been at least 64 false messiahs that tried to lead Israel astray.
  • The early church also records having to deal with Arianus, a false teacher who said Jesus is a god, but not equal to God. His impact is still alive today, and is practiced in the sect we know as Jehovah Witnesses.
  • Jesus warned the disciples so that they would be diligent in preserving & proclaiming His Gospel truth! An important note we must take into consideration as we have modern day false teachers in the form of Osteen, Todd White, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, and the list continues!
  • Secondly, look at verses 7-8. Jesus knew the world would never know peace. This can be seen by the 95% of nations who have engaged in war. And for what? James says, “You war because you lust and because you hate.”
  • Just in the last 40 years, almost half a million people have died every year in war. In World War II, 72 million people died. And not only war, but there will be earthquakes too. The direct Greek translation is mega quakes.
  • Now maybe you never connected the dots, but within a matter of 2 days after Jesus said this, Matthew 27:51–54, records that an earthquake split rocks, and even opened graves. Then in 50 AD, a horrific earthquake destroyed cities in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), including Laodicea.
  • Application – and that’s the nature of a cursed planet. In fact, verse 8 says it was only the beginning of the true end. These birth pains would only intensify, which it did. And so, as we hear of earthquakes and wars and false teachers and famines, we should simply be reminded that Jesus is coming again “soon.”
  • Therefore, thirdly, Jesus tells the disciples to expect persecution in their last days (v9-13). Now interestingly, Jesus told them to be aware, because in the midst of chaos and disruptions, they could lose vision as they may be thinking that the end had already come. 
  • But they were about to suffer for Jesus’ sake. This would take place in “councils” and “synagogues” and also in the larger realms of “governors” and “kings.” This would occur because of their bearing witness on behalf of Jesus.
  • The disciples probably thought, “we’ve already suffered that.” But Jesus specifically says “they will deliver you to the courts and you’ll be flogged in the synagogue” – that’s Jewish persecution. Now the courts of Israel were in synagogues. And scourgings were decreed and executed there, and never more than 40 lashes.
  • That was the maximum. And so for in case they may have miscounted, they always gave 39. That’s why Paul says, “Five times I received 39 lashes from the Jews.” But persecution will not only come from the Jews, the Book of Acts shows us how these early Christians suffered. And for what? Jesus said “You will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.
  • But they weren’t only going to suffer at the hands of pagans, but at the hands of loved ones! Family would reject them for choosing Christ. This is probably the most hurtful in my opinion. Folks whom you’ve known and loved, chase you away, or hand you over to be judged.
  • In fact, when persecution started to take place in Jerusalem, many of the families of the Christians, were the persecutors. You might have been rejected because of your faith, yet Jesus says, this is expected.
  • Conclusion – And the beauty in this is, the Holy Spirit will intercede. And He did as He filled the mouths of Peter and John, Stephen and Paul, as they stood before various authorities and gave powerful witness to the risen Christ. Which tells us of the third encouraged Jesus told the disciples, which was to persevere (v13).
  • They needed to persevere in the face of persecution, rejection, and heartache. Which happened by the way. It is noted that during the destruction of Jerusalem, not a single Christian lost their life.
  • So in reality, the Christians who survived the wars, and famines, and who lived until the destruction of the temple, were spared from the destruction when it happened. Now we would be tempted to think, this is it. If they can get through this, they’ve done well!
  • However, Jesus has a fourth point in His answer to the disciples (v10). These words are sandwiched between the persecution verses for good reason. Jesus was saying that, before the end, the famines, and false teachers, and so on, the gospel must be preached to all nations.
  • Only then would the end come. In other words, the last of the last days would not arrive until verse 10 was fulfilled. More so, later in Mark 13, Jesus makes it clear that all this would take place in their day, he was not talking about the year 2020 when Covid-19 strikes, the earthquakes on the coast of SA end, and when the Pope accepts and encouraged same-sex civil-unions.
  • So am I saying that the Gospel was preached to all nations in the first century? Yeah! Jesus said it would be. In Colossians 1:5-6, Paul wrote “of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.”
  • Later in verse 23, Paul says “the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven.” The biblical evidence is clear. The disciples and the early church persevered by focusing on their task to proclaim the Gospel.
  • Bridge – they went from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth! And so before the end of the Jewish world, before the destruction of the Temple and the religious system that it accommodated, the church had fulfilled their task of proclaiming, and went on to witness these foretold signs.
  • And that’s today’s theological lesson, this is what the early church needed to know about the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem. What they needed to about the end of the world as the Jews knew it. But what about us and the end times?

Application:

  • There Mark 13:6–13 describes the experience of the church following the ascension of Jesus. Mark does not give believers a blueprint for the future, but rather confidence in God’s purpose and presence in the church age.
  • And so these warnings repeat and extend Jesus’ call to discipleship, which is in Mark 8:34, “‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” And so we’re in the hour where we are to bear the cross. To bear His cross by standing “‘firm to the end.’”
  • As the writer of Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” You see my friends, the Christian walk is not free from adversity, but we are called to rely on the promise of God to bear witness to the gospel in this adversity, and to be saved for eternal life through it.
  • Don’t try to decode the tell-tales for the end-times, Jesus said these things will, they have been for 2000 years. He doesn’t tell us to study these, but He does tell us to stand firm, and to proclaim the Gospel until He come again. Let that be your conviction about the end times!