Mark 13:1–8 NRSV – “As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.”
Summary – This is the beginning of a passage known as the Olivet Discourse. The focus of this text is the destruction of the Temple, “what large stones and what large buildings.” Jesus explains that, “Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” Jesus explains the signs of when this will come to pass. There will be false leaders coming in Christ’s name, wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, earthquakes, and famines. This the beginning of the birthpangs.
Insight – Many have thought this passage is about the “end” of the world, rather than the “end” of the old order of the Jewish Temple-system. While it is true that Christ will come at the end of history to judge the living and the dead (John 5:28-29), I am persuaded this passage is about the end of the old covenant age which concluded with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. This discussion begins with the Temple. Jesus says the stones of the first century Temple will be torn down. That happened in 70 AD. Also this is referring to only one area, Jerusalem in Judea. In vs 14 He says, “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.” But most importantly He practically dates the fulfillment to the first century when He says in Mark 13:30 “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” “This generation” simply refers to those who were living at the time Christ spoke these words. Since the Temple was destroyed during that very generation, we should see this text as a great proof that Jesus keeps His word.
Catechism – What did Jesus predict would happen within a generation? The temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.
Discussion – Why would God allow the Temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Roman General Titus?
Prayer – Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word and its truth. We thank you that you sent Jesus to be our savior and that His body is the true temple of God. What you have promised you will fulfill and we trust you. In Jesus Name, Amen.