New Testament in 6 months – day 36

28 May

Mark 13:1-37
As he 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. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong–let the reader understand–then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now–and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time 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 appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back–whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”

Do you remember the elderly American pastor who, a year or 2 ago, predicted the end of the world? And then, when it didn’t happen, he declared that he had his numbers wrong and recalculated it, and was wrong again? Or how about Carlos Roa, the former Argentinian international goalkeeper, who is a Seventh Day Adventist. In 1999 he retired from playing football, still in his prime, to go on a religious retreat because he believed the end of the world was coming soon. Throughout history there have been many predictions of the end of the world, the majority of them by Christians or members of quasi-Christian sects or cults. And yet, in these verses, we are told very clearly that no one but the Father knows when it will happen. Even Jesus, the Son, doesn’t know. Yet in the last 2000 years we have seen many people believe that they know what the Son does not. It s the height of religious arrogance, as it means they either believe they are more intelligent than God, for after all that is who Jesus is, or they believe that they have a closer relationship with the Father than the Son does!

When this passage is read, the only thing we are to take with any surety is that we must be ready for the end for the world. This doesn’t mean sand bags, provisions and a bunker, because when the end of the world comes no one will be surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The whole point is that it is the END of the world, nothing happens after the end! But we are told to be ready, so ready for what, and how are we to be ready?

Well, another term used for the end of the world is Judgement Day, the day when we all meet our Maker and are judged for how we have lived our lives. And this is what we must be ready for, the day when Christ returns in His glory and judges the living and the dead.
But this still doesn’t explain how we should prepare.

Imagine if you knew the day you will be judged, what would you do? Now add in that you understand Christian salvation theology and that in order to be saved you must believe in God, and that Jesus is His Son and died for your sins. If you know when you will be judged, would you not be tempted to go off and do everything that you wanted, no matter how sinful, and then repent on the day before? After all, if we are truly sorry then all is forgiven through Jesus.
But what sort of a life is that? Indeed, what sort of a faith is that? It is certainly not committed!
However, life is not like that. Life is uncertain, for we cannot know what will happen. We don’t know if someone hasn’t done their job preparing our food, which could poison us. We don’t know if some lunatic dictator is going to suddenly decide to start a nuclear war. We don’t even know if we are going to accidentally step in front of a moving vehicle. All of these possibilities show us that life is fragile and unpredictable. And when we add in the fact that we cannot know when the world will end, it becomes even more uncertain.
Therefore, our preparation cannot be something physical, but must be something inside us. Indeed, it should be about who we have inside us. For if we truly have God in us, living as He calls us to, we are ready for anything. Because when our time comes, if we are living in Him, our judgement will end with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” as we are welcomed with open arms into His Kingdom.

So don’t be a “deathbed conversion”, for you don’t know if you will be lucky enough to have a deathbed! Don’t live based on false assumptions of certainty, for nothing is certain in this life except death, and even then you don’t know when it’s coming!

2 Responses to “New Testament in 6 months – day 36”

  1. Steven Carr May 28, 2013 at 11:29 #

    ‘ Even Jesus, the Son, doesn’t know’

    That must be because Jesus was fully God and one with the Father.

  2. Steven Carr May 28, 2013 at 11:30 #

    ‘If you know when you will be judged, would you not be tempted to go off and do everything that you wanted, no matter how sinful,…;

    I see. You want to rape and murder, do you?

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