Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“How Will It All End?”
Acts 1: 1-8 “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Something Better Has Arrived (vv. 1-2)
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 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.”
Jesus is now leaving the temple and in Mark’s gospel and won’t return. In the previous arguments with the religious leaders from various groups, he has declared the whole system morally bankrupt (He called the leaders brood of vipers, white washed sepulchers, etc.). Conversation after conversation, Jesus was clear that what was happening at the temple, the religious leaders, all of it was ending. But the disciples are focused on the “wonderful stones, and what wonderful buildings!”
“They were astonished at the magnificence of the construction and adornment of the sanctuary and its complex of courts, porches, balconies, and buildings. They particularly marveled at the massive size of the stones which were used in the structure and substructure of the temple.” It was an architectural wonder and was one of the most impressive sights in the ancient world.
Gathering for worship, in Jesus’ eyes, is not about the grandeur of the location, but the heart of those who worship. The idea, that Jesus is conveying is that there is something better, that it has arrived, and it is also a promise of judgment. It is Jesus’ pronouncement here regarding the temple that will be used against Him in the days to come at His trial.
The Disciple’s Question (vv. 3-4)
3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”
This pattern is now very familiar on the gospel of Mark, where Jesus will make a public statement (the Parable of the Sower; 4:10), and then have the disciples ask him privately what the statement of teaching meant?
It’s still Tuesday, but we are days from the Passover, where Jesus will die. He knows it’s coming, and He is seeking to prepare the disciples for the days to come where they will be left to lead the church. Jesus is preparing his disciples for the difficult days ahead. There are five things that he wants the disciples to know and remember so they can know how to react to the world around them and Jesus’ eventual return (Parousia).
(1) Just Because Bad Things Happen, Doesn’t Mean It’s the End of the World (vv. 5-8)
5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars (right at hand) and rumors of wars (rumors of wars in distant places), do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 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.
Jesus wants to “warn the disciples not to be disturbed by the preliminary signs nor to confuse them with the end itself.” Later in verse 37 Jesus says, “And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake” – So they must stay diligent through difficult times, and even when these things seemed to have passed, to remain diligent. “in verses 5-13 the repeated warnings (watch out, v. 5; do not be alarmed, v. 7; be on your guard, v. 9; do not worry, v. 11) have to do first with general troubles such as wars, earthquakes, and famines vv. 5-8)”
In times of crisis, there will be people wish to take advantage and manipulate people, “saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray,” but the leading astray will be a call to stop being vigilant in their following after Christ, and waiting for His return, because “the end is not yet.”
These false teachers, false prophets, and false claims to be God – represented a false hope and would lead to deception and further disaster. Not only would the people go through war, famine, natural disasters, but these false messiahs would then use the heart ache and destruction to lead the people into a spiritual catastrophe.
“Already there were outbreaks against the Jews in Alexandria, at Seleucia with the slaughter of more than fifty thousand, at Jamnia and elsewhere. Caligula, Claudius, and Nero will threaten war before it finally comes with the destruction of the city and temple by Titus in AD 70. Vincent notes that between this prophecy by Jesus in AD 29 and the destruction of Jerusalem there was an earthquake in Crete (AD 46), at Rome (AD 51), at Apamaia in Phrygia (AD 60), at Campania (AD 63). He also notes four famines during the reign of Claudius AD 41-54. One of them was in Judea in AD 44 and is alluded to in Acts 11:28. Tacticus describes the hurricanes and storms in Campania in AD 65.”
(2) You Will Be Persecuted, But It Doesn’t Mean It’s the End of the World. (vv. 9-13)
9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Jesus then gives his second warning, where there will be three areas where followers of Christ will be “delivered over” – to councils, at trials, and when family members betray family members. In all three of these groups, there is persecution.
(v. 9) “Persecution does not mean that the end has come, nor is it an occasion for the loss of hope. It is rather an occasion for witness to the nations, for this must take place before the end comes.” Before the end comes, the gospel “must first be proclaimed to all nations.” Jesus is sitting on the Mount of Olives hillside overlooking the Temple, explaining it’s destruction, on Tuesday before He will go on trial on Friday, and how the gospel must go around the world. In spite of persecution, governments that try to impede it, the gospel will make its’ way over the entire world, to the utter most parts of the earth.
And as you are being witnesses for Christ, and carrying the gospel to the world you will be “For they will deliver you over . . . for my sake” You will be delivered over to all these different groups, persecution will come, beatings will come, for Jesus’ sake. As Jesus’ ambassador, disciple, follower, preacher, teacher, witness, proclaimer – everything we do, we do it for Jesus.
(v. 11) “And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say,” – Believers who will endure this persecution don’t have to be anxious about what to say, Roman law, court procedures, etc., The Holy Spirit is there with them, and will give them truth to share in their defense. God will not leave them, the Holy Spirit will be with them. During these times, we are to rely completely upon God, who will even give us the words to say. And as we lean on God, speak what He tells us to say, there is a result.
You will be handed over, and you will be hated.
(v. 13) “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake,” They hate Jesus, they will hate you because you represent Him.
(3) Listen to Jesus’ Words (vv. 14-23)
14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.
(v. 14) “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be,” – There will something that is so abominable, that takes place in the temple, that leaves it desolate (empty of worshippers), then believers should head for the hills.
Jesus is using the phrase “abomination of desolation” from the book of Daniel (chs. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) and the offense to God is so great that followers of Jesus are warned to escape to the mountains, to leave the temple and surrounding areas. This whole section is focused on flight – leaving before the situations gets so bad (either by weather, or the political situation, famine, etc.) that there is no means of escape.
There will be a time when you shouldn’t go back for your cloak at the other side of the field, don’t go in the house to get stuff, just go, and if you happen to be pregnant at that time – it is going to be very difficult.
(v. 21) “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it.” This warning of a false Christ, is given in the context of the time to flee. Christians are fleeing from the city of Jerusalem, and then when it is time to flee, this false messiah pops up. Jesus says, don’t be fooled – keep on fleeing. But he is doing “signs and wonders,” keep on going.
There was a Jewish revolt in 66AD and “when the Jewish revolt did break out it became apparent that the Roman army would sweep away Jewish resistance from the main part of Palestine, many Jews fled into Jerusalem for safety, probably assuming that God would not allow the holy city to be sacked again by the heathen.
Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, tells us that during the siege of Jerusalem several rival groups of leaders claiming to be sent by God to deliver the people struggled with one another for control within the city. . . Jesus is warning not to be involved with this war,” and that God is allowing the Jewish people to be experience judgment.
So what does this have to do with me, today? Jesus warned the people of what was going to happen, and when it did happen of what to do. Those that followed His instructions survived, and those that didn’t experienced a horrific death. This is not the only warning that Jesus gives us about the future and our need to listen to His words.
Also, for the readers of Mark’s gospel to really understand “who he really is, the disciples must look beyond Jesus’ death to his glorious return. The Son of Man had to suffer and die, but after that he would be vindicated and glorified.”
There is also another reason why our study of God’s Word is important – it helps us to understand the world around us (one that sometimes appears to be close to an end), This group of believers aren’t going to look at natural disasters and see them as the end of the word; they aren’t going to listen to religious fanatics that pop up claiming to be the Messiah, they are going to keep watch and consistently share the gospel – and they aren’t going to be overwhelmed when they are persecuted, hated, or betrayed. They have weighed these things already, as part of Jesus’ teaching, and chose to become a disciple anyway.
(4) You Must Know What to Watch For, and What You Can’t Watch For (vv. 24-31)
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
(v. 24) After these things have happened, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” – All of the following will happen at the same time, “All that holds the heavenly bodies in their orbits and enables sun, moon, and stars to light the earth, shall give way.”
Then the angels will be dispatched to gather all followers of Christ from around the world, “from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
(v. 28) “From the fig tree learn its lesson:” When the fig tree shows its green leaves, summer is coming very soon. This parable of the fig tree invites the reader of the Gospel to see in the misfortunes which will overtake Jerusalem the evidence that its devastation and ruin are near. Jesus is saying that “before the passing of a generation, Jerusalem and the Temple will lie in ruins.” Then after the tribulation, there will be a time where followers must continue to stay awake and watch.
(5) You Do Not Know, No One Knows, When the End Will Come (vv. 32-37)
32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
Jesus moves from the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, which marks the end, of one way, and with the disciples beginning a new way, and this new way will draw to an end when the gospel has been preached to all nations (v.10).
(let’s review all of time)
Creation – Fall – Redemption – Restoration
(v. 32) “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows,” Jesus then moves to his return, but unlike the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, where like leaves on a fig tree one could anticipate when it will happen and flee; When Jesus returns no one will know (not the angels in heaven, not even Jesus Himself).
Acts 1:6-7 “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” God the Father has not delegated that authority, when the earth will be judged, and Jesus will return, to anyone.
The disciples had asked, “when will this take place?” (referring to the destruction of the temple), and Jesus says, (v. 37) “Stay awake until the Lord comes.” We do not know when Jesus will return, so His followers must remain vigilant, awake, and ready for His return. “The four watches of the night are named here: evening, midnight, rooster crowing, morning.”
In the 19th century, there was a wave of enthusiasm for prophecies predicting the actual date for the Second Coming of Christ. One such prophecy was an Adventist leader name William Miller. After studying Daniel 8, Miller predicted that Christ would return on March 21, 1842, but then revised the date to April 3, 1843. Over 3,500 of his followers jammed the Boston Advent Temple, only to be disappointed. You might have thought that the movement would have died. But it didn’t. Rather it continued to grow. Miller decided to recalculate his date for the Second Coming and soon publicized a new date – April 18, 1844. When the messiah did not show up on that date, there was again frustration and some followers left the Adventist ranks. Undeterred, Miller came up with a third date – October 22. 1844. And, surprisingly, this third date rallied his followers. They began to spread the news of the new date of the Second Coming with an enthusiasm that had not seen before. Churches that did not accept this message were denounced as agents of “Babylon.” and the devil. And – despite opposition from established, mainline religious groups, thousands of people – including many clergy – began to prepare. One account notes that “Fields were left unharvested, shops were closed, people quit their jobs, paid their debts, and freely gave away their possessions with no thought of repayment.” Huge press runs of Advent publications like The Midnight Cry warned the public that “The Time Is Short”. “Prepare to Meet Thy God!” and “The Lord is Coming!” William Miller himself began peddling white “ascension robes” to the faithful, many of whom waited for the miraculous event in freshly dug graves. But as we all know, the Second Coming did not occur. A few weeks later after the Great Disappointment, William Miller wrote, “Although surrounded by enemies and scoffers, my mind is perfectly calm and my hope in the coming Christ is as sure as ever… I have fixed in my mind upon another time and here I mean to stand until God gives me more’ light. And that is Today, Today Today. Until He comes and I see Him, my soul yearns for him.”
For more information regarding William Miller, https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/denominationalfounders/william-miller.html
 William L. Lane, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994) 451.
 These four disciples had been with Jesus the longest, Mark 1:16-20.
 Bruce says that Jesus gave this to “forewarn and forearm.” If Jesus gave this teaching to prepare his followers of the soon-to-be destroyed temple, wouldn’t this point to having pre-70 AD copies of the gospel. Otherwise, the forewarning would be mute.
 R. T. France, The New International Greek Testament, The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002) 505.
 Lane, 448.
 Larry W. Hurtado, New International Biblical Commentary, Mark (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers, 2001) 214.
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1930) 375.
 Lane, 445.
 Hurtado, 217.
 James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1991) 205.
 R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (Minneapolis, Minnesota; Augsburg Publishing House, 1964) 584.
 Lane, 478.
 Robertson, 378.