Text: Mark Chapters 13-14
OBSERVE: Throughout these two chapters we observe the following:
INTERPRET: Jesus’ teaching recorded in chapter 13 is often referred to as the “Olivet Discourse” because Jesus and the disciples are on the Mount of Olives, east of the temple. It is here that Jesus prophesies about the fate of the temple in Jerusalem and of the end times. The parable of the fig tree reminds us that we have all the info that we need to be ready for His return. Even though we do not know the exact moment of Jesus’ return, the disciples can be content that He will certainly return and that we should live our lives in ways that reflect this certainty.
Chapter 14 is the final chapter before the crucifixion of Jesus. While the Jewish leaders and Judas prepare for betrayal, Jesus concentrates on teaching the disciples the truth about himself and who/what the Jewish Messiah really is. Jesus spends the final days before his crucifixion just as He spent the previous three years; trying to get the disciples to understand the bigger picture of the Jewish Messiah’s role in God’s plan for the world.
The gospel of Mark touches on a few themes in chapter 14 that will prepare the disciples to establish the church. These include: recognizing and honoring God’s work; recognizing the enemy without fearing him; valuing community while together remembering Jesus’s work and leaning on God’s power to be faithful to Him and also, to understand that God is a Father, deserving our honesty, our trust, and our obedience.
APPLICATION: As we hear what Jesus proclaims through the Olivet Discourse, Christians should take heart that God is in control. Christ will indeed return to establish His rule and order here on earth. Just as Jesus taught the disciples that He was much greater than the magnificent looking temple, we too need to understand how important it is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus rather than on “magnificent” things of this world.
The parable of the fig tree teaches us that we have all the information that we need to know about the return of our King; so we need to make sure we are living in ways that reflect this certainty of His return. We are to be busy serving the Kingdom through our words and our actions until the day of His return.
Jesus made it clear that the Scriptures must be fulfilled and that He was prepared to go to the cross. While Peter attempted to use the sword to prevent this fulfillment, Jesus humbly took up the cross to fulfill the final act of His mission. Often we can attempt to serve God recklessly with a sword, rather than humbly following our King in service of Him and others.
Even when many were plotting His death, Jesus continued to teach the disciples about the Kingdom. This is a great example for us all to continue the race until the very end. No matter what is happening around us, we need to continue to share the Good news of the Kingdom with others and to reflect the Kingdom in every aspect of our daily living. God will continue to work through us until the very end.
REFLECTION: Are your your eyes fixed on Jesus? Or are you easily distracted by other powers?
Are you living a life that clearly reflects your confidence in His return?
Is it easier for you to carry a sword or a cross in your daily walk? How does this imitate Jesus?
Do you live with an urgency to build the Kingdom of God like Jesus did in the face of death?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus; you are the King of kings. Thank you for providing a way for me to live in your presence forever and for giving me absolute confidence of your return. Help me to live in ways that glorify you and that help prepare others to be ready for your return. Give me strength and courage to pick up my cross daily to serve in ways that imitate you; until the very end of my life. AMEN.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.