Friday, February 25, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 27, 2011

(JESUS’ return is man’s only hope)
(Mark 13)

Mark chapter 13 begins during the middle of “Passion Week”, JESUS’ final week here on earth in human form, and just two days or so, before HE completed HIS mission by way of HIS death on the cross at Golgotha, by Roman method.
As JESUS was leaving the Temple that day, one of HIS disciples, who was, no doubt, filled with awe at the tremendous size, splendor, and beauty of the buildings that made up the temple area, which, by the way, covered about 1/6 of the city of Jerusalem, says to JESUS, “TEACHER, look at these tremendous buildings and the massive stones in their walls!” JESUS replied, “These magnificent buildings will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another”.
This statement by JESUS would later serve as a segue into the prophetic discourse that HE would deliver to HIS faithful followers that very same day on the Mount of Olives, located just across the Kidron Valley from the temple. In a very real sense, this ominous prediction can be seen as somewhat of a sequel to JESUS’ judgment of “clearing the temple” (Mark 11:15-18) when it was being grossly misused by the “money changers”. Remember, throughout Israel’s sorted history, GOD had often destroyed the temple as a form of judgment for HIS chosen people’s rebellious acts against HIM.
When they arrived at the Mount of Olives, JESUS sat down on the slopes, and, Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to HIM privately, and asked HIM, when would the things that HE had spoke of earlier come to pass, and, would there be any signs beforehand.
Now the temple complex that existed in Jerusalem during JESUS’ day was still under construction and wasn’t fully completed until A.D. 64, almost 40 years after JESUS’ ascension back into Heaven. The project was started by King Herod the Great, who died in 4 B.C., and was completed by the sons of his dynasty over the next several decades. The Herods built this religious complex to both, win the Jews favor, and, to create a lasting monument to themselves. It was considered to be one of the great architectural wonders of the world in its time.
Now, with that bit of information, one can imagine how startled the disciples must have been at this prediction by our LORD and SAVIOR, WHO said, “Before this generation has passed away, this whole complex will be leveled to the ground”. It is a prophesy that was fulfilled only six years after the temple area construction was completed (A.D. 70) when the Roman Emperor Titus, ordered his soldiers to demolish the entire city of Jerusalem, including the temple complex.
The conditions that were associated with the crisis that caused Jerusalem to fall in the latter half of the first century, actually foreshadow a similar crisis’ that we are faced with here in the twenty-first century. The thinking Christian can clearly evaluate that JESUS’ words and warning, which related of the signs of the times in that generation, still remain very relevant to us, who are facing similar critical conditions, in this day and age.
JESUS answered the disciples’ second question first, which was regarding the “signs”, and HE answered it in a two-fold manner. In the negative sense, JESUS warned them against the false signs that would come in the forms of “false prophets” and those who would claim to be the Messiah HIMSELF. In the positive sense, HE warned them of the wars, earthquakes, and famines that would only serve to usher in an even more horrific “tribulation period” unlike any other before, in all the history of the world.
This will be followed by a period of increased Christian persecution, that will present unprecedented opportunities for Christians to preach the Gospel to many nations, government officials, and heads of state, all over the world. And all the believer will have to do is follow the prompting of the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO will direct and instruct them as to what they should say, and when they should say it.
JESUS also says that during this time family members will betray each other to the death, and, believers will be hated simply because of their allegiance to HIM. However, those who are willing to endure their suffering for CHRIST until the end will be saved. In fact, in this passage JESUS likens these sufferings and pain to that of a woman’s labor pains, just prior to childbirth.
But just as a woman has to endure the labor pains that are associated with childbirth, before she can realize the joy of having brought a new generation of life into the world, so it is with those who are willing and able to endure the suffering that comes with one performing the “Great Commission” of CHRIST, in a world that is adverse to the will of GOD, in order that they can one day, have a new eternal life, with CHRIST, in HIS new millennial kingdom, whenever GOD calls for HIS return.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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