“And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:37 ESV)
Our jouney through the Gospel of Mark continues this Sunday with an exposition of Mark chapter 13. This chapter is perhaps the most controversial in all of this gospel, as it records Mark’s account of Jesus’ Olivet Disourse (also found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21). Jesus’ discussion about signs of the times, the abomination of desolation, the glorious appearing of the Son, and the timing of all “these things” has led to much debate and speculation over the years. Our goal for this Sunday is not to dive deeply into all the waters of controversy.
Our goal, rather, is to answer these two broad questions: What did Jesus’ discourse mean for his original audience, and what, by extension, does it mean for us?
Too often, we begin with what a text means for us and fail to consider that the narratives of scriptures had a primary meaning to those who heard it first (in this case, the disciples), and also to thsoe who read it first (in this case, Mark’s original audience of Roman Christians). Once we discover the primary application to these early believers, discovering the application for us becomes more possible.
We will therefore not be able to answer all the questions that come from a passage like this, such as, Which eschatological position is true – premillennialism, amillennialism, or postmillennialism? Or, is there a rapture of the church, and if so, when? Or, who is the antichrist and when will he appear? These are good questions that should not be ignored, and we hope to consider them in the future. However, these debates can still rage while gleaning the overall meaning of Mark’s intent. In other words, there are principles in this chapter that all Christians, no matter one’s eschatology, can agree upon. In light of our sermon series’ main theme, The Power of the Son, we will seek to highlight what Jesus is teaching his disciples to do, in the power of Jesus, in the midst of the chaos and confusion that comes at the end of the age.
To prepare your heart to get the most out of this Sunday’s sermon, please read Mark chapter 13 in its entirety. You might also find it helpful to write down questions or comments along the way – some of which may be answered in the sermon, but much of which may not be. Ultimately, while questions of the timing of the end of the world may loom in your head as you read, consider this question as you come to worship Christ: When the curse of this temporal world manifests itself at such great intensity, what does Jesus tell his followers to do?