25th Sunday after Pentecost – Series B – Mark 13:1-13
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
We hear again the last words of Christ from Mark chapter 13, “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Today, in no uncertain terms, Jesus proclaims to you that “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”
And with that, we might ask the follow up question, “Do we feel fine”?
When we look out at our world and its historic hatred toward the Church and its confession…
…and when we examine our culture, and find it growing more foreign to us by the day, what is our response?
When we hear and see the persecution and martyrdom of Christians worldwide…
…and when we observe the ever-shrinking number of people in churches across America, what is our reaction?
Is it one of burying our heads in the sand, a reaction of ignoring and denying what we hear and see?
Do we think that if we simply become friends with our world and with our culture, that we’ll somehow avoid the suffering and hatred that Jesus promises in our text?
Do we think that this kind of worldly friendship will finally make the Gospel more attractive,
that by our compromises, churches will finally be full, and the world will finally love us?
Or is our reaction one of cynicism and scorn?
When we look at the falling favor of the church in our culture,
do we blame its hatred on the stupidity of its followers?
Do we pray our pharisaical prayers and thank God that at least we’re not like those other Christians,
at least we’re not easily offended, or fiercely judgmental, at least we’re accepting, sophisticated and inviting.
Do we join in the hatred of God’s people with the world, holding out for a more perfect Church that will finally preach with the kind tact and acceptance that we desire?
Or is it one of fear and trembling?
Do we quiver with despair at the hatred around us?
Do we start wonder, if our faith is really worth it, especially if our neighbor starts to think of us as judgmental,
or uneducated, a bigot, or a caveman?
Do we question whether God is still with us, if He’s still in control, still protecting us?
In Mark 13, Jesus tells us the end is coming, and the world will hate us as it hated him…what is our reaction?
Are we at peace, are we confident, are we secure, do we have hope?
Whatever the answer may be, know that on this day, Christ comes to you with his confidence, he gives you his hope, his peace, security and endurance.
He speaks to you in the midst of our attempts to bury our heads in the sand, become angry with our own brothers and sisters in the faith, and our ever-growing fear of the world and culture that hates us.
He speaks to us in the words of endurance. Showing us that which does endure to the end.
That which can be trusted and hoped in, that which will keep us to the end of all things, to eternity itself.
And in the same way, he brings us true comfort, by showing us also what does not endure to the end.
Those things that are passing, that will end, that will not continue forever, but instead meet their match in the second coming of Christ himself.
Jesus promises you this day, that these things that do not endure, that they cannot take away from you,
the confidence, comfort and hope of the one who does endure.
Therefore, as we move into our text in Mark 13, we should not be alarmed or shaken by the trouble that Christ promises will come.
As Jesus and his disciples are leaving the temple, we find the 12 caught in the moment, taking in the glory and amazement of Jerusalem.
And this should not surprise us, as for the Israelite, going up to Jerusalem for the Passover, seeing the temple and walking in its courts was the high point of the year, if not one’s lifetime.
Herod’s temple was truly a sight to behold. The architecture was incredible, the stones used to build it were enormous, and the promise that God would here in this temple, commune with His people, was the foundational hope of all of Israel.
But Jesus does not share in the disciples’ enthusiasm. Instead he abruptly proclaims that the temple is a passing thing, it is not the true hope of all mankind.
For the disciples, this teaching is utterly devastating. What they’ve hoped in, is now seen as second best,
if not nothing at all.
And it is here, that we should pay careful attention,
to the way in which that our Lord never leaves us in our blissful ignorance.
Where the disciples and you and I are often found hoping in things that are passing away,
Jesus never humors us by allowing us to continue to hope in these things…whatever these things might be.
Whether his words to us are abrupt or expected, through his Word, Christ is always fixing our eyes to that which does in fact endure to the end of all things, that which is true hope and true comfort.
Even to us, Christ cuts through his word to show us that our buildings will not last, they will not take us to heaven, our church leadership will not bring us true peace, our ministry strategies will never give us lasting comfort.
These things are not only second best, but they must be moved aside for us to see the one who endures to the end.
And so with the temple thrown down, Jesus now moves into the rest of our text to show us everything that is fading away, everything that is passing.
Here he speaks of false teachers, wars and violence, famines and earthquakes, hatred and persecution, and even the family.
In each of these, we find are either things that we hope will last us until the end, or things that we fear will rob us of the eternity yet to come.
We may be surprised, and even a bit put off, that Jesus lists our families and relationships as things which may end or break before the end.
And yet, Christ’s words about the betrayal and hatred of the family as shocking as they may be to us,
were in fact, vividly real for Christians living in the first three hundred years of the church.
During the Roman persecution, unbelieving children delivered their believing parents over to death,
just as unbelieving fathers handed their believing sons over to the Roman Colosseum.
Even the family is not exempt from the hatred and turmoil of the world. And this turmoil and division is passing, the brokenness of our relationships will not be our end, and they will not endure to the end of all things.
In these Words, Christ brings you his true peace, showing that there is for you, something more foundational than even the family, than even ourselves, something that truly does endure.
Our relationships are not our final hope, and beyond the blessings of God that comfort,
Christ also speaks to curses that bring us fear.
Wars, violence, natural disasters and persecutions, these are all fading things,
and yet in them we so often find for ourselves such incredible terror and despair.
When violence strikes, our hearts sink, and we often think that the end is near.
When we imagine persecution and the reality of martyrdom, it’s difficult to think of anything existing beyond it.
And yet, Christ proclaims to you the comfort that even these evil things are passing,
and not only will they have an end, but to you, they will never be your ultimate end.
War, violence and death will never rob you of the one who endures to the end.
Where the enemy may take the head or the life of the Christian,
he can never steal him away from the true head and true life that remains beyond end of all things.
Where the world may hate you and call you a bigot, it can never take away the righteousness that is already yours.
Where the culture can exclude you and shame you, it can never steal the love that God has given you.
Where disease may plague you and taunt you, it is not the end, it is passing.
Where death may frighten you, know this dear Christian, that it is not your end.
Christ gives you comfort this day, so that you would fix your eyes not on what causes you to tremble and shake,
but on the one who holds you secure and steadfast in the life that never ends.
So then, what is it that endures to the end?
If it’s not the hatred of this world, or the things that are second best, what is it?
It certainly is not us, for individually, by ourselves, we are not the ones who endure to the end.
Neither is it the faithfulness of the disciples, it’s not their courage or their will power,
for here in Mark 13, Jesus is preparing to go to his cross.
Here in the following chapters, we will see firsthand the faithfulness of the disciples,
the courage and confidence that they’re able to muster on they’re own
In the garden the disciples will fall asleep, at the arrest they’ll run away, at the trial they’ll deny the faith.
They themselves will not endure to the end…and neither will we.
What we have fails, and yet Christ gives us is steadfast unto death.
For when we look out at the persecution of Christians especially in the middle-east,
we might ask what is it that allows Christian children even in the face of certain death, to confess Christ and die, rather than renounce him and live?
It is not our faithfulness, it is not our courage, it is not anything that we have.
No, the one who endures, the one who has been given and stands by these children,
is the one who is himself, the true temple and hope which will not be thrown down.
He is the true life that will never die.
The one endures, is the one who is the true holy of holies,
the very communion of God with his people,
who in his body and blood given for you clothes and keeps you until the end.
Here at the crucifixion of the Christ, war, violence, famine, disease, persecution and even the Father
will lay upon his body the attacks of the world, the condemnation of the Law, and the wrath of God himself.
Where you and I would meet our end here, Christ does not.
He swallows up our condemnation, our fear, our sin and crucifies it in his death forever.
For he is the one who endures, he is the one who has bound you to his body, covered you with his blood,
washed you with his name, and now holds you to the end.
In him you endure. So remain in him. Hear his words, eat and drink his body and blood, be washed and held fast.
Do not be anxious, for in you, as in these faithful children who have gone in death before you, he has given his Holy Spirit…you will not be lost, as indeed they have not been lost…he keeps you unto himself forever.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.