Sunday, February 18th, 2018
Sunday Morning Worship (9:30 AM)
Sermon Text (Mark 13:1-8):
 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”  And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,  “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”  And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray.  Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.  And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. (ESV)
Here in this chapter we have the longest section of the Lord Jesus’ teaching found in the all of Mark’s Gospel. This (and the parallel passages in Matthew 24-25 and Luke 21) are known as the “Olivet discourse” (so named because of the location where Jesus said these words – the “Mount of Olives” – v.3).
When you consider how rarely Mark includes extended accounts of Jesus’ teaching (as Mark tends to focus on action, while often briefly summarizing the teachings of Jesus), the fact that this entire chapter basically consists of nothing but His teaching makes it jump off the page even more!
This chapter is one of the most notoriously difficult passages to interpret in all of the New Testament. Of course, the subject primarily involves eschatology (the study or doctrine of the last things or end times).
Needless to say, there is not exactly a consensus (much less unanimity) as to how we are to understand what our Lord Jesus is teaching us here. Some would say that more or less everything in the Olivet Discourse has to do with things that have long since taken place in the past with the destruction of the Temple when the Roman army sacked Jerusalem back in A.D. 70.
Others focus mainly on the future aspects of what Jesus says here, and hold that nearly all of it is still awaiting a future fulfillment. Even what is spoken of here regarding the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem is (in the view of some) thought to be at least primarily in the future, with a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem during what they call “the great tribulation” period.
Others hold that Jesus’s words here on the Mount of Olives addressed both what was in the near future at that time (i.e. destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70), as well as other things that were to take place in the distant future (i.e. the Return of Christ to judge the living and the dead).
J.C. Ryle states it well when he writes,
“The chapter we have now begun is full of prophecy – prophecy of which part has been fulfilled, and part remains to be accomplished. Two great events form the subject of this prophecy. One is the destruction of Jerusalem, and the consequent end of the Jewish dispensation. The other is the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the winding up of the state of things under which we now live.” (Expository Thoughts on Mark, p.214)
It must be said that much of what our Lord Jesus says here clearly involves those terrible events in and around A.D. 70, when the Roman army came and sacked Jerusalem, destroying the temple. That is the first thing addressed here in this chapter:
As Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple, one of the disciples said to Him,
“Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (v.1)
The temple had taken some 46 years to rebuild (John 2:20), and must have been quite an impressive sight to behold! According to at least one estimate, some of the stones that were used in the construction of this temple were well over 60 ft long and over 7 ft high. No doubt if we had been there to see it, we would have been more than a little impressed and awed by it!
But what does Jesus say in reply? He says,
“Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (v.2)
He bluntly and succinctly predicted and prophesied the destruction of the temple, that all of its stones would be “thrown down” from upon each other. Its destruction would utter, complete. and violent. It would be as horrific as the temple had been impressive.
This must have been quite unthinkable to the disciples, and so they naturally began to ask Jesus when these things would come to pass (v.4-5). In His answer throughout this chapter, our Lord addresses both what was soon to come to pass with the destruction of the temple, and the end of the age as well.
Rather than trying to handle the entire chapter all at once, we will (Lord willing) be going through it one brief section at a time, over the course of a number of Sundays. The first thing we will be looking at is the prophesied destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and the reason and significance of that event.
We hope that you will join us for worship this Sunday, as we hear the Word of Christ preached to us from this great passage of Scripture!
Sunday Night Bible Study (6 PM)
We are continuing our study through the great historic creeds and Reformed confessions of the church. We are currently going through the Belgic Confession!
The Belgic Confession is a time-tested statement of the essentials of the reformed faith, and can be considered as an abbreviated summary of Calvinism (not to be confused merely with the so-called “5 points” of Calvinism). This Confession has been cherished by Reformed believers for over 450 years!
We hope that you will join us for this helpful and informative study. Bring your Bible, bring your questions, and feel free to bring a friend!