As we bring our study in the book of Mark to a close for now, we remember how the disciples don’t always ‘get it’ with Jesus. They’re not sure who He is, or even believe what He says (do take time to hear my colleague at the seminary Mateus de Campos on the Gospel of Mark and how the disciples continue to stumble “on the way”).
So we can imagine the shock the ‘inner circle’ of Peter, James, John and Andrew (with whom the whole journey started in chapter 1) when Jesus says something to the effect: ‘the light at the end of the tunnel is one big incoming freight train’ in Mark 13. The world as they know it is about to end (the temple would be destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans). Jesus does not fill in all the details but He does tell them “the Holy Spirit” will enable them to face what/whom they will encounter. In addition, He keeps telling them throughout the chapter not to be “anxious,” to be “on guard” and “to stay awake.” The promise is that is “he who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). Based on the track record in Mark, it’s hard to imagine these guys will pull it off. Jesus also speaks of His Coming back “in great power and glory” (Mark 13:26). So there is a lot more going in what He says then just the destruction of the Temple. He is talking about the End Game as in the End of the World! In that Jesus fulfills all the ancient prophecies that history is not cyclical but things will come to an End at a time of God’s choosing. We just cannot imagine what the disciples must have felt at that moment!
For us, we may or may not face the intense persecutions the disciples faced but the central question comes right back to us: Will you finish well? We’ve all seen people finish well and others not finish well. What’s the secret? Here Jesus puts emphasis on endurance and the Holy Spirit. Other biblical writers fill in the details that are of great help to us today. Jude is the one that speaks so powerfully when he says: “keep yourselves in the love of God.” Clinging to His mercy is what will get us through the biggest (and small) trials of our lives. We too are “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus.” So, just like the disciples in Mark and just like the tortoise, you and I may not start fast, but Jude tells us we can finish well:
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.