Mark 13 is disturbing and hopeful at the same time. We tend to as a people shy away from apocalyptic literature. It was a common literary motif in Jesus’ day. It is unfortunate that we have lost much contact with it or appreciation of it. The book of Revelation is another piece of apocalyptic literature. It is well written, soaked in Scripture and paints a hopeful picture of the triumph of our Father. Mark 13 also teases our imagination and invites us to dream with God. Apocalyptic literature gives voice to a minority voice in an oppressive culture. Apocalyptic literature deals with the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Mark 13 is no exception. I tend to fall on the side of those wiser and more scholarly than me, with those scholars see Jesus words however dealing with the time in which he lived and worked, and those who followed him. Jesus talks about the events unfolding in a manner and being seen within a generation. While some of the Greek in this passage is difficult to translate exactly, we mustn’t try to use Mark 13 or other apocalyptic writings like a road map of the end of time.
Jesus does deal with his second coming, but doesn’t know when this event will occur. He however, offers the advice of watch and be ready to his followers. I think this is important for us all. If we fail to watch and prepare for His return, I think we loose a lot of the urgency intended in Mark 13. We continue to live in the unfolding of history and like the early church, we too must root ourselves in the shadow of the second coming.
So, one of things I have not noticed before was the phrase in 13:1, “As he was leaving the temple…” Jesus, the God-man, was leaving the temple. I take this as sad commentary on the state of the temple in Jerusalem in Judaism. I know he cleanse house in Mark 11, but now I believe we should see 13:1 as God leaving the temple. The temple is no longer the place where God would meet with his people. We will see later on in Acts 2, that the church becomes the new holy places of God. We become the the place where heaven and earth meet, we help or are supposed to help others see God on this planet. What a great responsibility.