Enduring to the End: Mark 13:1-31

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During the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, we read about a point where Jesus’ three closest disciples have some questions, and they pull Jesus aside to get some answers. To set the stage for this event, and for Jesus’ response, we read about a brief prediction Jesus shares as He and the disciples were leaving the temple.

Our passage is found in several of the gospels, but for our time together in this episode, we will look at Mark’s gospel, chapter 13, and we will read from the New American Standard Bible translation. Starting in verse 1, Mark tells us that:

1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

Pausing our reading briefly here, I wonder if the disciples, and perhaps the unnamed disciple who made the original statement, were bothered by Jesus’ prediction that the temple would be destroyed.

Because this was on their minds as the afternoon passed and evening came, we discover that some of the disciples want a little more information.

Picking back up reading in verse 3, Mark tells us that:

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

In this long passage, Jesus shares a broad look at the future of the world. While there are plenty of specific parts we could focus on within Jesus’ response, the part I want to focus in on for the rest of our time together is the last few verses. Jesus concludes this teaching by telling the disciples that they should pay attention to what is happening around them in the world and know that when we hear and see things happening, such as wars and rumors of wars, that we can be reminded that Jesus is coming soon.

While Jesus promises that the current generation of people would not pass away until all these things took place – which is something that is perplexing in itself and something that would take too much time than we have left to dig into – the closing words in Jesus’ message is one of the biggest promises we can find in the entire Bible. Jesus tells these disciples in verse 31 that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

This promise is powerful, because it reminds us that whatever happens in this life, and whatever Satan tries to throw at us to take our focus off of God, in the end, Jesus’ words and His message will survive. Jesus’ words last forever. Jesus’ words last longer than sin. Jesus’ words bring eternal life.

We are reminded and challenged with the truth that we will be hated and abused by people in this world because we follow Jesus, but those who endure to the end will be saved. We are challenged to endure to the end of our lives or until Jesus returns, and the reward for our endurance is eternity – specifically an eternity in a sinless, perfect, recreated world.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always place God first and to stay loyal to Him. Choose to endure and ignore those who try to challenge our faith because we know from Jesus’ promise that those who endure to the end find salvation.

Also, as I always challenge you to do, be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with God each and every day. While pastors, podcasters, authors, or speakers can give you great ideas to think about, only through personal study can you grow a personal relationship, and a personal relationship with God is one key part of being saved!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, or chicken out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 15: Discover what we can learn when three of Jesus’ closest disciples ask Him about what will happen leading up to the end of the world.

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