If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
Sometimes things seem like they have no end. (You are likely thinking Covid, as am I.) Take the rolls of cling wrap in the kitchen of the church, for instance. Each roll contains 3,000 feet. If the average piece we use at the church is a foot, that is easy enough math even for…. well, I will not name names. The last time Diane was at Sam’s with a friend, I asked her to pick me up another roll of both. I was nowhere near out of either, but I know one day we will need new ones because these will reach the end. I know when we do need more, if they are available the price will be higher and the number of feet may well be less.
I see things that seem never-ending and I remember that everything will come to an end. It is not something I dwell on, but I am certainly not unaware. The pastor’s office I currently sit in will one day not be mine, my EMT certification, which I just had to renew if you can believe it – will expire and I will not renew it, the ability to drive a vehicle and even our lives on this planet are things that will end. We know this. I keep saying that the self-driving cars are going to come just in time for me – when I can no longer drive just throw me in a car and hit the home button.
I begin with this idea of things coming to an end or running out because we are picking back up in Mark where we left off going into Christmas. Today we will read Mark 13:1-8. When we left off, Jesus had entered Jerusalem for the last week of his humanly life. It was the week that would end in Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus had been peppered with traps and tricks from the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Scribes. They were plotting against Him. Chapter 12 ends with Jesus talking of the woman, the widow who put in what appeared to be a pittance of money as an offering, yet Jesus tells the disciples and us that it was a great sacrifice for her. That most give out of their abundance, but she gave out of her poverty. And we pick it back up here –
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Every time the disciples say, “Teacher” it is underwhelming from our angle and through our lens, because we know Jesus is the Messiah. But here they are, following their Rabbi – teacher, and eager to learn. And seemingly from out of nowhere, and perhaps innocently enough, one of the disciples says, “Teacher, isn’t this something?”
The temple they are looking at was not the temple built by Solomon in the OT – that temple had been destroyed. RC Sproul gives this information on it: This temple that they were looking at was constructed by Herod the Great 50 years earlier– the outer court is 500 x 300 YARDS – the temple itself took up 35 acres of ground.
Josephus said some of the stones were 60 feet long, 11 feet high, 8 feet deep, weighing over a million pounds. It looked like a mountain of marble decorated with Gold. The wall was 150 feet high – 15 stories – half a football field. And the sanctuary was that high. Today, the walls of Jerusalem are 75 feet high. And inside the archeologists have dug down 75 more feet where the base of the wall is. The columns were so large that it took three men arm to arm to wrap around it. One adult male could only wrap their arms 1/3 of the way around it.
In Mark 13, Jesus tells his disciples that the temple they see in front of them with those immovable stones will one day not have one stone on top of another. And there was no way of predicting this. It was inconceivable – seemingly impossible – that million pound stone after million pound stone would be brought to rubble. We know in 70 AD it took Rome all its power and all its might to finally make it happen.
The disciples would have been aghast. Tell us teacher, when will these things come to pass? They nearly had to be asking out of disbelief. The Jews thought God was the temple and the temple was God – Jesus said, “No. The temple will be torn down, but God will still be.
The is known as the Mount Olivet discourse as the Scripture says Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. Peter James and John approach and asks, “When is this going to happen? And how will we know? What are the signs?”
And people have been asking the same questions for 2,000 years. Every pastor knows if you want to have a well-attended sermon series or Bible study – what do you talk about? Revelation. Sometimes when I can’t find Diane around the house or the church, when I finally find her I will say, “Oh, thank goodness. I was afraid I had missed the rapture.” We are infatuated with the end of days. The Christians of the early church are warned against dwelling on it. Jesus warned them, and hence we are warned about being led astray by people who say, “This is it” or it is going to be October of 2022. I am not predicting that, by the way.
Without a doubt, God knows things and understands thing we do not know and understand. All of time is at His command. He knows when Brenda Long will take her final breath. He knows when you will and when I will. When I walk down the halls of a nursing home, I always wonder if I will ever be laying in one of those beds. And I wonder. I am sure you wonder about things as well. And God knows.
The NIBC says the answer Jesus gives them is not a date on a calendar, but the God. The answer is God. To have faith in a dependable God who will act in His own time. It was that fact that would keep up their morale and endurance in spite of the wars and rumors of wars, in spite of nations rising against nations, in spite of earthquakes and famines and troubles. Jesus says do not be led astray. This idea of being led astray is where I want to end today.
Come what may, nothing comes our way apart from God allowing it. So as much as we worry about things to come, today I am reminded that we so much of the time we are “led astray” by this worry about what is ahead. It can steal our joy today. It can steal our peace today. It can steal our worship of God today.
While I sometimes think and say all we need to focus on is today, today I am reminded that while it is great to leave certain things in the past, we must never leave our love of God and our trust in His faithfulness in the past.
When Jesus says, “These things are the beginning of sorrows” I am reminded that the Apostle Paul said even as we sorrow – even as we mourn “We do not do so as those who have no hope”.
“Jesus said, Believe in God and Believe in Me”
When we say, “I believe in God” we mostly mean that we believe He exists. What if we said, “I believe in God” and meant I believe in His love and care for us – we believe that He is doing something amazing – I believe in God – in His kindness, in His mercy, in His ways, I believe in God. And I trust Him – no matter the uncertainties of today or tomorrow.
Eternal God, who committest to us the swift and solemn trust of life; since we do not know what a day may bring forth. but only that the hour for serving Thee is always present, may we wake to the instant claims of Thy holy will, not waiting for tomorrow, but yielding today. (from the Book of Common Prayer)