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Background Consideration:

Most of the space in the book of Mark is reserved for stories about Jesus and his disciples, not discourses by Jesus. Only chapters 4 and 13 could be described as sermons. In chap. 13 Jesus outlines the events leading up to the second coming. He doesn’t cross out the signs or the trouble. See vv. 9-20. But he does give suggestions about coping with them. See vs. 5, 7, 11, 14-16. He goes further by putting a positive construction on the troubles ahead. The future persecution (vv 9-13) will give an opportunity for public witness. In that situation, the believers are told “don’t be anxious beforehand” (me promerimnate). They are promised the aid of “the Holy Spirit” who will speak through them. God will not abandon them. Jesus promises that the gospel must be preached to all the nations (v. 10). That’s good news–Jesus expects that this will happen. But this great event must happen “first” before the coming of the Son of Man.

What is surprising is that the chapter ends with a warning not about the future but the present. Jesus re-defines where the real danger lays-falling asleep while we wait. The greatest danger is the one we face now, not later. In spite of all the signs we can be fooled. For we don’t know when the master of the house will return (v. 35). So our only safe course is to be ready now, wide awake, doing what we have been assigned (vv. 34, 35). Notice how the last verse includes us: “What I say to you I say to all…” This means that even though only four disciples (according to Mark 13:3) heard Jesus’ words, they were intended for all those who profess to be followers of Jesus.

For Discussion:

  1. For many secular people, the idea of God coming in person to the world through the sky seems absurd. How can I explain my beliefs when they seem bizarre or impossible?

How ought a Christian to live if one knew that Christ would not return for a thousand years? How would that be different if one knew that the second coming was three months away? Should there be any difference?

The special stress in Mark 13:33-37 on being alert and staying awake, “lest the master come and find you sleeping”, is picked up in the next chapter. Notice 14:32-41 where Peter is urged by Jesus to remain alert and to pray. But three times Jesus “comes and finds them sleeping”. Jesus watches and prays and is able to face the cross, while Peter manages three times to deny that he even knows Jesus (14:66-72). Are the words of Jesus in submitting to the Father’s will (14:66-72) appropriate on the lips of a Christian?

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