I really didn’t have a post for today because I never heard back from the internet folks and I assumed that hadn’t gotten to me yet. I was expecting an actual service call where I had to be here with a technician. Imagine my surprise when I got here at 6:00 and the internet was up and running. So, since I don’t have legitimate post, I’ll share part of the passage we discussed tonight.
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Mark 13:1-13 (NIV)
One of the temptations with passages like this is to try and decode some sort of apocalyptic timeline. That is especially true in the next section which discusses the abomination that causes desolation. Those types of discussions are interesting but I think that we sometimes let the sidetrack us from what Jesus was really trying to say. I admit that I read the Bible with my own preconceptions and struggle with peeling them away and trying to just read the text. That being said, one of the things that jumps out at me is when Jesus tells the disciples not to worry when they are arrested and brought to trial. Notice, he doesn’t say “If” you are arrested, he says “When” and the assumption is that he is telling them to expect it. On the surface that sounds like bad news. However, what he says next is great news.
He tells them not to fret about what they plan to say in their defense. He tells them to say whatever is give to them at the time. Why? The Holy Spirit will do the talking for them. That’s amazing. It also makes sense when you read the book of Acts and see how the apostles responded in those situations. I often wondered how they were able to be bold and stand firm in the face of opposition. They had the Holy Spirit guiding them. When I see story after story of people being murdered for their faith I sometimes ask myself how they can stand up and boldly go to their deaths. It’s right there. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would carry them through it. I have wondered if I could stand up to death without denying Jesus. Honestly, I don’t think I could without the Spirit taking me through it. I’m a big wuss and I don’t want to die. The only way I could lay down my life like that was if the Spirit did it for me. Jesus says that’s exactly what happens.
I honestly pray that I never have to find out. I told you, I’m a wuss. However, I do take comfort in Jesus’ words and I’m encouraged by them. If I ever have to face that test I know that I don’t have to do it alone. Praise God.
Grace and peace.