45 – Destroying the Temple
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.
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.
- Famine: Extreme lack of food
- Endures: Lasts
- Abomination of desolation: Something hateful and wicked that destroys
- Tribulation: A cause of great suffering or trouble
- Elect: Those whom God has chosen
Do you sometimes wonder how the world will come to an end?
Why do you think that Jesus warns his disciples about this?
The next section of Mark’s gospel is difficult to understand, and we are going to look at it in two parts. It is clear that one of the disciples is amazed at how beautiful the temple building is. Jesus’s answer is that the temple is going to be destroyed. A little later a small group of his disciples ask him how this is going to happen, and how will they know when the end of time will come. It is therefore important to realise that there are two questions here.
In the passage we are considering today, Jesus deals with the first part, namely when will the temple be destroyed. In the period between Jesus going to heaven and his coming back to judge the world, he says that many things are going to happen. Many will come saying that they are the Messiah; there will be a lot of wars, earthquakes and famines; Christians will be persecuted; the gospel will be spread throughout the whole world; the church will receive the Holy Spirit.
At the end of all this the disciples will see the ‘abomination of desolation’. This is a reference to the Old Testament, to the period when the enemies of Israel put idols in the temple and made sacrifices to them. Jesus says that this is going to happen again – and indeed, the Romans did this exact thing in the year 70 when they destroyed the temple. This was a period of great suffering, when many people had to flee from Jerusalem.
Notice that Jesus does not mention specific dates, only the sort of things to expect. We can see that these things have happened in the past, and that some of them are yet to happen, but we are not able to say with certainty when the end will come.
How should thinking about these things affect our behaviour today?
Why should the Christian not worry about facing all these things?
that the Lord will keep you from being deceived and will strengthen you to face every type of suffering for his sake.