Jesus Changes the Question (v. 4, 9ff)
Sometimes (in my more self-centered moments) I think the disciples were there only to ask the questions I would have asked, so that Jesus could direct me to the questions I should ask. The disciples wanted to know “When will these things happen (v. 4)?” They wanted to know when the end times would begin; when the new kingdom would be established.
Jesus gently directs them to a better question, “How should we live since this world and these political-economic realities will come to and end?” Without condemning their thirst for information, Jesus directs their attention away from their curiosities (over which they had no control or impact) to the things they could impact for His kingdom.
We need to heed this same attention re-focusing. In light of what we know about temporal life and eternal life, how should we be living now? We so often get lost in the trivia and prognostication of things we have no control over. Jesus teaching in Mark 13 can be summarized as do not worry about what you might do or say when something bad happens, invest your thoughts and energy in what God has given you control over and God will prepare/enable you for later moments later (see v. 11).
A Prerequisite to the Second Coming (v. 10)
There is one way (if any) to expedite the second coming of Christ. Contribute to the gospel being preached to all nations. This is a resounding theme of the Bible and about the return of Christ (Rev 7:9).
If we long for Christ’s return, if we long to taste heaven, if we long to see God’s will on earth as it is in heaven; then we must be sharing the gospel regularly and we must be contributing (prayer, time, and money) to the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
As you examine yourself in this area, consider the following questions:
- Can you summarize the gospel in a few, short, clear sentences?
- If you cannot summarize the content of the gospel, are you sure you are a born again Christian?
- Do you know how your church participates in and supports missions work to unreached people groups?
These two simple words (“Keep watch”) capture the main point of Jesus’ teaching on the end times in Mark 13. The application Jesus gives of keeping watch is not primarily upon discerning events leading up to his second coming, but rather on living for his return in faith that he is coming.
It is easy for an employee to slack off when the boss is away (13:32-37). Jesus promises he will come and (like a surprise visit from a boss) says his followers should be working and with evidence of their work.
Use the following questions to evaluate your “watchfulness” in light of Christ’s second coming using the boss-worker metaphor Jesus gave in Mark 13.
- How often do I read my Bible to understand more clearly what my Lord has assigned me to do and how he will evaluate my life upon his return (Bible study)?
- How often do I pray to talk about my progress and delays, get additional work instruction or insights, and clarify what I have read in his instructions (prayer)?
- Am I excited about the project I have been given and use gratitude as a way to maintain my level of motivation during tedious work (worship)?
- Do I stay well-connected with my co-workers and do we mutually stay on task to ensure our work is well coordinated and efficient (fellowship and accountability)?
- Do I naturally and actively talk about the work I am privileged to be a part of and invite others to join the effort (evangelism)?
- Do I manage my major resources of time, money, property, talents, and relationships around the job I have been entrusted (stewardship)?
- Am I seeking the wisdom of those who have been the job longer to assist me in doing my job with increasing excellence (discipleship and mentoring)?
- Am I looking for those new to the job and seeking to help them learn from my mistakes to advance the project as efficiently as possible (teaching)?
- Am I resting in the fairness and wisdom of my boss as I work knowing that his plans and methods are best whether I see the whole picture or not (rest and trust)?
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.