Mark 13:1−37

November 20th, 2013| Topic: aBeLOG, Mark | 2

Mark 13:1−37

Dependence on God’s providence, the Spirit’s power, and the promise of the Son’s return enables the disciple to be faithful to Jesus until his return.

And what I say to you, to all I say, ‘Be alert!’”
Mark 13:37

The theme of this chapter continues Jesus’ anti-Temple stance in Mark 11 and 12. Israel, and particularly its leadership, has failed in its mission to produce fruit (11:12–26; 12:38–40); judgment would be inevitable. All the Temple’s stones were going to be replaced by Jesus, the cornerstone (12:10–11; 13:1–2) of a new temple building, the community of believers in Jesus.

While Jesus’ prophecy appears to have been fulfilled in the devastation of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., Jesus does not deign to answer the disciples’ question of when this will be. Rather than seeking a precise chronology, the disciples’ call, in that and in every generation, is to be faithful all the time, even far into the future when the Antichrist would arrive and the Great Tribulation would occur (13:4).

Disciples will not be mere spectators, but will themselves bear the brunt of persecution; those who follow Jesus can expect that what happened to their Lord will happen to them also (6:11; 8:34–38; 10:30). As was Jesus, the disciples, too, would be “handed over/betrayed” (3:19; 13:9, 11, 12; 14:10, 11). This is a “new lap,” with the disciples taking over the baton from Jesus who, in this scenario, has already departed. But a powerful promise to the disciple is extended in 13:11, that of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. No calamity can disturb the disciple with such a comforter and helper alongside him or her; they are therefore exhorted by Jesus: “do not be concerned” (13:11).

The strong adversative in 13:24 (“but”) signals a decisive shift in the battle; the consummation of the end has arrived, and the coming of the Son of Man is described in 13:24–27, with significant cosmic upheaval. A change in the rulership of the universe was going to take place: the Son of Man was coming to reign!

The threefold command to “be alert” (13:34, 35, 37) is striking in the absence of any injunction to watch for the Lord’s return. What is called for is alertness because the Master is away, rather than a watchfulness for the Master’s return. Faithfulness at all times is the critical command. The cascade of imperatives in this chapter conveys that thrust: “watch out” (13:5); “do not be alarmed” (13:7); “watch out” (13:9); “do not be concerned” (13:11); “pray” (13:18); “watch out” (13:23); “watch out” (13:33); “keep awake” (13:33); “be alert” (13:35); “be alert” (13:37).

While other pericopes have dealt with faithfulness in personal situations, whether it be in matters of life and death, or for all of life’s daily needs, or for engaging in God’s mission, etc., this chapter deals with particular reasons to remain tenacious in those nationally/internationally turbulent times (the magnitude of the catastrophes have reached worldwide scope here): the Father’s providence, the Spirit’s power, and the Son’s promise.

In sum, disciples have to be faithful to Jesus, to the Gospel, amidst incredibly trying circumstances, depending on the providence of God, the help of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of the return of the Son. Disciples of all generations must be thus prepared for whatever is to come, and whenever it may. Thus, even while the reader is deliberately kept in the dark about calendars and clocks, the theological thrust of the section is clear. Be faithful, till the end, no matter what: God is in control!


  1. Meredith November 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I really like this one. Thank you for writing, Abe.


Share Your Thoughts

Copyright © 2012 Homiletix  |  Blog theme by ThemeShift customized by Gurry Design  |  Full sitemap