Promises - Mark 13:1-37

1.      Have you ever made a promise and had to break it? (Hopefully if we have had to break a promise it was due to circumstances beyond our control.)

2.      Who do you trust to fulfill a promise made to you?

Although the word “promise” isn’t used in our Scripture text today the predictions Jesus made to His disciples (and thereby to us as well) amounted to promises.

The events in Mark 13 were timely in that they occurred just a day or so before Jesus’ crucifixion—an event that seemingly left the disciples with no hope. This is one of only two chapters in Mark where an extensive block of the Lord’s teaching centered around a single theme. The other was back in chapter 4 where Jesus taught parables of the kingdom.

Chapter 13 has been called “the eschatological discourse” or “the prophetic discourse” and some call it “the Olivet discourse” because He taught it from the Mount of Olives.

A comment made by the disciples concerning the temple buildings started this entire discussion.

The chapter could be outlined as follows:

·         Destruction of the temple predicted. Occurred in 70 AD

·         Signs of the end of the age.

·         Persecutions predicted.

·         The great tribulation.

·         The coming of the Son of Man.

·         The parable of the fig tree.

·         No one knows the day or hour of the Lord’s return.

Because the chapter covers such a wide range of time and events we have some difficulty in understanding exactly how it all fits together. Our focus today will be on Jesus’ promise to return and knowing He will keep His promise.

Many of the events Jesus tells His disciples about were prophesied in the Old Testament—Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel for example. Once again proof these prophets wrote under God’s inspiration! Later the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians deals with it also.

The promise of Jesus’ return gives us living hope! (I couldn’t help but to think about the Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection.)

 

Seen! Read Mark 13:24-27

 

1.      If you were to use just one word how would you say creation will respond at the end times? (Chaos! Complete disorder and confusion.)

Read Isa. 13:10; Ez. 32:7; and Joel 2:10, 31.

2.      What details can we learn about Jesus’ return from these verses? (Jesus’ return will be like nothing we’ve experienced; all people will see Him; Because we’ve never experienced it—similar to the disciples not having experienced the resurrection—we will certainly get some of the characteristics wrong.)

We need to focus on what we can know, such as even nature will change.

3.      Read Mark 13:26-27 again. How do you visualize the return of the Son of Man and what will happen upon His return?

4.      How would you contrast Jesus’ first coming (birth) with His second coming? (Poor-Ruler; Seen by few-seen by all; Birth announced to a few-proclaimed worldwide; Humility and service-great power and glory; etc)

5.      Read Daniel 7:13-14. Mark drew an example from Daniel to connect Jesus as the Messiah. How should His eventual return affect the way people live each day right now?

Verse 27 indicates that Jesus’ return will mean a time of restoration for the believer.  These events in the heavens announce the arrival of God’s righteous judgment.

 

Be Assured! Read Mark 13:28-31

 

1.      Why might Jesus have used a fig tree as an example? (Very common fruit tree in Israel. Everyone would understand exactly what He was talking about. The fig tree served as a reliable indicator of the seasons. Most of the other trees in the area did not lose their leaves in the winter, so the budding of the leaves of a fig tree promised that summer was approaching.)

In our area the blooming of the Bradford Pear tree might serve as a good example pointing to the onset of summer.

2.      What one thing can we be certain of from these verses? (Christians have been anticipating Jesus’ second coming since He departed the first time. No matter how long it takes, His Word is true and will come to pass.)

Verse 30 is a difficult verse to understand. Jesus said “This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.” If He was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, then He was talking about the generation of His disciples, but that is highly unlikely because it is so far removed in context. Some scholars believe He was talking about the “Christian Era.” The most likely and logical would be the generation living when the events of the great tribulation come to pass. Although a terrible time only that generation will have to endure those events.

3.      Because Jesus’ word and His return are certain, how should our behavior, attitudes, and words be impacted by His promise? (Even the way we speak to our spouses and kids will honor or dishonor Jesus. There isn’t an area of our life that will not be called into accountability.)

If love for Jesus doesn’t motivate us to do rightly, we should be motivated by the reality that we will bring before God both our selfish acts and our loving ones.

4.      Read Mark 13:31. How does this verse provide comfort for us today? (Regardless of what is going on around us Jesus’ words will come to pass. He is in complete control, even in the seemingly chaotic world we live in today!)

 

Stay Ready! Read Mark 13:32-37

 

1.      What key words do we find repeated in these verses? (“Be alert.”)

2.      Why would Jesus repeatedly remind His disciples to be alert?

Notice that when the master went away he gave his servants jobs to do.

3.      Do we ever have a job to do and put it off until it’s too late and we get caught short?

The message to the disciples is clear. They have a job to do before Jesus returns but they don’t know when He will return. Therefore, it is best to go about doing the Master’s will lest we get caught short.

4.      What would a day guided by watching and being alert look like? (We should live as though Jesus could come any hour, doing actions He would be proud of, but plan as though we’ll live on this earth until death.)

As Jesus shared with His disciples the need to stay alert, so we also must watch out and be alert!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What are some distractions that could keep a person from remaining alert and watchful?

2.      How can a person safeguard himself against these distractions?

3.      Think about challenges you’re currently facing. How does the promise of Jesus’ return give you hope when you face the identified challenges?

4.      How does the hope we talked about today provide comfort?

5.      How can you share this hope with others?

6.      What do you most anticipate about seeing Jesus come in His glory?

 

We all need to focus on our relationship with Jesus rather than getting hung up on details about what will happen first, second and third.

 

Even so come Lord Jesus!