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Mark’s first-century biography – page 39

And as he (Jesus of Nazareth, c. AD 30, Jerusalem) came away out of the temple, one of his disciples stated to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “You see these great buildings. Not even a stone upon a stone may be sent away from here that may not have been broken apart.”
Within a day or two Jesus would be executed as a criminal on a Roman cross. The Jerusalem temple complex (Herod’s Temple) where he was teaching was absolutely magnificent. Most of its “bricks” were around 3 feet x 3 feet x 15 feet. The largest single stone was 11 x 16 x 44 and weighed over 600 tons. No wonder the disciples said, “Look”.

Jesus wanted them to see two things in addition to the great buildings: first, that a time was inevitably coming when the great stones would be sent away from there; second, that no two stone would remain together. This took place in AD 70. But, similarly, the Temple of Artemis in Turkey and the Temple of Zeus in Greece – two wonders of the ancient world were both destroyed around AD 450. 

Is this something we ought to "see" when looking at today’s “buildings”?

And as he was sitting down on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning him by himself, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign whenever such things are about to be fulfilled?” 

Understandably, four of Jesus’ disciples want to know more. So they ask him. Good idea. They want to know a “when” and a “whenever”. A date and an early warning sign of such approaching cataclysms.

‘The purpose of all prayer is to find God’s will and to make that will our prayer.’ (Catherine Marshall, author, 1914-1983)
But Jesus began to state to them, “See! So that no one may lead you astray! Many will come against my name, saying, ‘I am! ......’ and they will lead many astray.” 

Jesus immediately instructs them to “See”, to see not only great buildings but also their destiny. Otherwise someone “may lead you astray.”  The buildings (including temples) are being - and will be - used by someone to lead them astray.

That someone is – and will be – someone who will say to them,” I am!” And there will be “many” like that – all trying “to lead you astray”. “See!” 

Adolf Hitler, in 1937, commenced construction of a 405,000-seater sports stadium in the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg, Germany. Many were and would be led astray. The uncompleted ruin remains.

“But whenever you may hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. It is necessary for these to come into being without yet being the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Earthquakes will be against places; famines will be. These are a beginning of the birth pains.”

Above everything else, Jesus is concerned about “you”. Everything in this world will be caught up in conflict – one “against” another. Even what we call “nature” is at odds within itself. Covid-19? 

‘Take away love and our earth is a tomb.’ (Robert Browning, British poet, 1812-1889) 
Jesus states that this “is necessary”. Why? He says, “These are a beginning of the birth pains.” What can possibly be born out of the awful turmoil which faces us in our present world? What new life comes out of these “birth pains”?

“But see! You yourselves for your own selves! For they will give you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will be made to stand against authorities and kings on account of me, for a witness to them. And for all nations it is necessary first to proclaim the gospel. And whenever they may lead you away, giving you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you may speak, but speak yourselves whatever may be given you in that hour, for it is not you yourselves speaking, but the Holy Spirit. And sibling will give over sibling to death, and a father a child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all on account of this name of mine. But the one who perseveres to the very end will be saved.”

The non-Governmental organisation, Open Doors, estimates that in the top 50 countries on their 2019 World Watch List, 245,000,000 Christians are being persecuted for their religious beliefs; while 1 in 9 Christians, worldwide, experience high levels of persecution. Then why on earth “persevere”? Again, what new life comes out of these “birth pains”?

Sinner Syvret

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