Mark 13:1-13: Jesus warns of coming events
As they left the temple area, one of the disciples pointed to the magnificent buildings and commented on their splendor. Jesus replied that they all would be torn down. This remark astonished the disciples and they asked when this would happen and what sign there would be of the temple’s impending destruction. Jesus began answering by telling about some things that would happen before the temple was destroyed. He warned of false Christs, wars, natural disasters and great persecution. These events would be unsettling for the Christians, but Jesus assured them that they were not signs of the overthrow of the temple. It is remarkable that some people have taken these things that Jesus said were not signs of the destruction of the temple and used them to try to predict the date of the return of Christ.
Mark 13:14-30: The Destruction of the Temple
This paragraph is one of the most difficult in the gospel of Mark. Several things should be carefully observed:
- Jesus said that all of these things were going to occur within that generation (Mark 13:30).
- We know that Jerusalem and the temple within it were destroyed by Roman armies in the year 70 A.D. Contemporary reports chronicle Jerusalem’s horrible siege and tell that thousands (possibly more than a million) died in the conflict.
- Jesus warned the Christians to flee to the mountains. History records that the disciples fled to a mountain fortress near the Dead Sea. As far as we know, no Christians perished in that war. It always pays to listen to Jesus.
Mark 13:31-37: Jesus Warns of His Return
In verse 30, Jesus said that the destruction of the temple would occur within that generation. But in verse 32, He spoke of an event that would occur at a totally unknown time. He was referring to His own return and the destruction of the world. Not even Jesus Himself knew when that would occur. So, He exhorted everyone to be alert and constantly prepared for His return.
Let’s look at some practical lessons here.
- We should not believe anyone who claims to be able to predict the date of the Lord’s return. If Jesus did not know, surely no mere man does. Anyone who claims to be able to discern the time of Jesus’ return by a careful study of prophetic texts is claiming to know more than the Lord Himself and should not be taken seriously.
- Since we do not know when the Lord will come back, we should always be ready. If you knew for sure that the Lord would come back today, would you change some things in your life? Then why not just assume that He is returning today (for He might) and make the changes immediately. It is utterly foolish to procrastinate in our repentance.
Mark 14:1-11: Anointing of Jesus
What contrasting attitudes toward Jesus! The chief priests and scribes searched for a way to kill Him. Judas offered to betray Him. But a single woman spent 300 days’ wages for perfume which she poured over His head. The disciples criticized her for this extravagant act of love. They viewed it as a waste of money and thought it would have been better to have sold the perfume and given the money to the poor. But Jesus defended her saying that she had anointed His body for burial and that in all the world people would tell of her deed.
Mark 14:12-26: The Last Supper
Passover was an annual feast commemorating God’s sparing the Jews in the tenth plague on Egypt (see Exodus 11-12). Jesus sent the disciples to prepare the feast, then He ate it with them. During the meal, Jesus warned that one of them would betray Him. He was trying to prepare the apostles for the traumatic night to follow. The Lord also took some of the bread and grape juice of the Passover and said that it was His body and blood. In this way, He initiated the observance of the Lord’s Supper, a feast that was continued by the early Christians (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 11:17-34).
“Is it I?” It is interesting to observe the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ prediction that one of them would betray Him. Each asked, “Is it I?” They were thinking of the possibility of their own fall. Unfortunately, this moment of introspection soon vanished and in the next paragraph they return to brash overconfidence. Surprisingly, they did not ask, “Is it Judas?” Apparently, they had not observed anything in Judas’ behavior during the months they had spent together that signaled that he was disloyal. When we read Jesus’ warnings in the Bible, we should also ask, “Is it I?”
Mark 14:27-31: Jesus Predicts Disciples’ Fear
Jesus told the disciples that they would all fall away. Peter retorted that though the others might, he would never abandon Him. Christ replied that he would deny Him three times that very night. Again, Peter denied it saying that he would even be willing to die with Him. Perhaps Peter’s overconfidence was one reason he fulfilled this very prophecy a few hours later.
Mark 14:32-42: Jesus Prays in the Garden
Jesus took His disciples into a garden and asked them to watch and pray. He told them that He was deeply distressed. He went a little farther and prayed that God would take the cup of suffering away from Him. Jesus knew how terrible His death would be. He asked; however, that God’s will be done above all. Each time He returned to His disciples, they had fallen asleep. Jesus wrestled with His griefs and fears alone, without human support.
Let’s note the true suffering of Jesus. This paragraph in Mark reveals Jesus’ deep grief as He thought about what He was going to suffer. He knew exactly what was about to happen and He dreaded it. Was He thinking only of physical pain? Crucifixion certainly was an agonizing experience – the victim slowly suffocated as he grew gradually weaker and finally unable to pull his body up against the nails to breathe. But others have suffered similar executions with less dread than Jesus. There must be something Jesus feared besides pain. Several passages teach that Jesus bore the sins of the world on the cross (Isaiah 53; I Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21). he suffered the punishment for man’s sin, which was spiritual death, separation from God. His greatest agony was being cut off from His Father on the cross. (study Mark 15:34). Because He suffered this punishment of utter separation from God, His faithful followers will never have to.
Mark 14:43-52: Jesus is Arrested
Judas had bargained with the chief priests to betray his Master. He had promised to lead them to the place where He spent the night away from the crowds. Although Jesus knew the plan, He went again to the usual spot where He knew Judas could easily find Him. A troop of soldiers with the traitor leading the way, interrupted the calm of the night. Judas kissed Jesus, a signal that it was safe to arrest Him. One disciple tried to defend Jesus by sword, severing the ear of a man in the arrest party in the process (see Luke 22:50-51; John 18:10-11 for more details). But then the disciples lost their nerve and fled. Jesus remained alone with His captors and Judas.
Mark 14:53-65: Jewish Trial of Jesus
Though it was very late at night, Jesus was brought before the Jewish Supreme Court and tried. They bribed false witnesses who told contradictory stories about Him. For a time, it appeared that the Court would be unable to find consistent testimony by which to convict Jesus. Finally, the high priest asked Him if He were the Christ. When Jesus said, “Yes,” they used this statement as evidence of blasphemy and convicted Him. Then they spat on Him,mocked Him and beat Him.
Mark 14:66-72: Peter Denies Jesus
Peter had slipped into the courtyard to watch the trial. Various people began to recognize him. A servant-girl asked him if she hadn’t seen him with Jesus. Peter claimed not to understand what she was talking about. Then she began to tell others that he was a disciple and he flatly denied it. Finally, some noticed his Galilean accent and accused him of following Jesus. With this, Peter panicked, vehemently denying Jesus, even asking God to curse him if He knew the man. The crock crowed and Peter remembered Jesus’ warning. He came to himself with a sickening awareness of the horrible deed he had done. He rushed out and began weeping in despair.
Look at the failures of the disciples. The disciples failed Jesus miserably in His hour of greatest need. They fled. Peter denied Him. Why? They had been such loyal supporters. Think back upon contributing factors to their failure:
- They had not listened when Jesus had frequently warned them of His impending suffering. They had been too eager to argue about who would be the greatest in the kingdom.
- They were overconfident.Earlier that evening, Jesus warned them that they would flee, but they did not believe it.
- They did not watch and pray int he garden as He instructed. Thus, they were not mentally prepared to face the challenge. we could fail in the hour of temptation for these same reasons.