The destruction of the temple

This is written by Jenny Peters. Jenny and John moved to St Mary's in 2000. Jenny now runs Connected Lives, an early intervention family support project, which runs out of St Mary's. She has a go at most things but could only be described as exceptional at parallel parking.

Mark 13:1-13

The destruction of the temple and signs of the end times
13 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, 'Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!'

2 'Do you see all these great buildings?' replied Jesus. 'Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 'Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?'

5 Jesus said to them: 'Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, "I am he," and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth-pains.

9 'You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 'Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Reflection

In this conversation Jesus prepares his disciples for a time after his death when persecution and trouble will come. At the very time when Mark was being written down these words would have been only too real for the early disciples. The conversation kicks off with the Temple. The Herodian Temple was the largest and grandest building for hundreds of miles. Aside from its architectural impressiveness The Temple was the place where God dwelt. Jesus' statement that all the stones of the Temple will be destroyed (2) would have been deeply shocking for the disciples. Not surprisingly they want to be know more, and at an opportune moment, ask Jesus when these things will happen. It's a very human response in the face of devastating or sad news to try and wrest back some control by information gathering or planning.

Jesus doesn't hold back, he tells them of the 'birth pangs' of the cataclysmic event. He warns them of wars and rumours of wars; earthquakes and famines. He prepares them for physical punishment and persecution; family division and universal hatred. It's a grim picture a sort of 'blood, sweat and tears' kind of a talk. Why does he do this? Maybe to give them what we all need in times of great distress and trouble; hope based on the assurance that God is in control. He calls them to have patient endurance knowing that at the beginning and end of everything is God who loves us.

Is there anything happening in your life or the lives of those you love where you need to hear this assurance. Take the remaining time to pray, giving Jesus all your hopes and fears and asking him to give you all you need to stand firm right to the end.

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