What does it say?
Mark 13 corresponds to the prophetic emphasis of Luke 21. The teaching begins by announcing the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that would be fulfilled by the Romans in 70 A.D. Jesus goes beyond the impending destruction of the temple toward the end of the age and his return in glory. He warns his followers of persecution and suffering to come and of the earthly and cosmic events that will take place in that day. Though Jesus gives indicators of things to come, Jesus is quick to warn his disciples of trying to set dates by watching the signs. He tells them clearly that they will not know the day, the hour or the time. Instead, he warns them to watch and be ready always.
What does it mean?
The strange warning about the abomination spoken of by the prophet Daniel is a reference to Daniel 9:27. While some think that this was all fulfilled in the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, many conservative scholars see this as a reference to the Antichrist to come, the personification of the very Devil shortly before the return of Christ. Theories and ideas abound and are far beyond the scope of our brief devotion. For the moment, notice that as Jesus talks about the future, his main concern is not giving the disciples a way to date his coming with precision, but is rather a warning against those who misinterpret and spread false signs of his coming.
As we have followed God’s mission through the history of the Bible, we have been reminded that all of history is moving toward the fulfillment of God’s mission. We should beware of being diverted to politics both national and ecclesiastical. Our focus should be instead the mission. The study of biblical prophecy can be fascinating, but it always involves a measure of speculation mixed with our own ideas, culture and prejudice. The bottom line, as Jesus instructs, is to be ready for his coming at any moment, whether today or 100 years from now.
How will I respond?
If the return of Christ were tomorrow, would I be ready? What is the one lesson that I can take away from this chapter and apply to my life today to increase my state of missional readiness?