For the full text of Mark 13, click here.
When I first came across Jesus foretelling the destruction of the temple in Matthew 24, my impression had been different. There’s just something strange about the off-handed manner in which Jesus says that everything will be destroyed and that the disciples just go about their day Well, most of them. We see in the next paragraph that a few of the disciples talk to Jesus about it after, worried about seeing it coming or something. The rest of the chapter goes on to explain when that time will come, or so it seems.
Here’s the thing, they first comment on the beautiful building and then Jesus tells them it won’t always be there, and then they ask when will that happen and He gives a long and confusing answer about trials and tribulations to come. The answer gets into the gospel being shared over all the nations and then wars and persecutions, but also mentions that “this generation won’t pass” before it happens. It must have sounded quite straightforward at the time but some of this has happened and here we are more than 2000 years later and the Son of Man hasn’t shown up again and it leaves me feeling very confused.
A part of me wants to say I feel misled, but I also know that prophecies are weird and maybe it will all make sense one day, but I hope I’m not there to see it. There’s a mention of the “elect” here too, which is one of those things that bothers me. It’s not that it’s impossible to imagine that there are people who are “chosen” by God to be saved, but it takes away the idea of the free will and implies an uncomfortable amount of predestination. I’m not big on predestination. It makes me feel like my choices are pointless and already made and there’s no point in thinking.
Also who are the “elect” and what criteria was used to select them? It can’t be as simple as the amount of sin…..but it also can’t be nothing. Unfortunately, that isn’t really laid out here. There’s just that there is an elect and that they will be saved because God shortened the days during the desolation in order for them to live.
There’s a reminder to stay awake at the end because we never know when this time will come or when the Son of Man comes and you shouldn’t be caught unaware. The signs are given so that they could see when it’s coming, but it also sounds like they aren’t expected to know. Again, the bigger part that confuses me is that it really does sound like the disciples are going to be there for all of it.
2000 years later, here we are, debating over those words and when those times may come while the temple itself had been destroyed a long time ago. It could be guessed that maybe this means that the true temple in what Jesus said was the people of God, but that doesn’t make sense in context. Nothing really makes sense to me in context. The only thing is the hope that the “elect” are those who persevere through to the end of it all but it doesn’t specify.