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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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In this study guide, we’ll continue working our way through the Gospel of Mark with a discussion of Mark 13:1–37 as Pastor Duane Roberts unpacks the realities of what’s to come, but also the comfort and eternal security of knowing Jesus both today and in the future!
Below, you’ll find some key discussion point questions to reflect on and consider on your own, in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, as well as some action points for the week and a look ahead.
Memory Verse of the Week: Mark 13:26 (NIV)“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”
Icebreaker: What’s your favorite futuristic movie or TV show and why?
Getting the Conversation Going: Does the future make you anxious?
Things are getting scary . . .There’s so much uncertainty . . .What’s going to happen?Are we living in the end times?
If you ever wonder about the end of the world, you’re not alone. Our culture seems to be fascinated with books, shows, and movies about dystopian futures and post-apocalyptic societies. But the question is why? Why are people so fascinated with the end of the world?
Today, we’re going to focus on what Jesus had to say about the end of the world.
Having an Eternal Mindset: Have you ever been in awe of something? Perhaps you’ve had the privilege of visiting some of the world’s most astonishing architectural artifacts such as the Hagia Sophia in Turkey, the Taj Mahal in India, or the Colosseum in Italy. Maybe you’ve seen one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Magnificent, right? Although admiring the beauty of something is great, the truth is nothing of this world will last forever.
Mark 13:1–2 (NIV)“As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!’ ‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’”
Here, we see one of Jesus’ disciples express admiration for the beauty of the temple buildings. But instead of expressing similar admiration, Jesus prophesied that those same buildings would soon be demolished. When asked “when,” Jesus again does not provide the details because He sought to convey a different message. Though He was prophesying about the end times, His intention was to equip them with hope and perseverance rather than details. From the onset of that disciple’s comment, Jesus sought to redirect their minds to the eternal.
If we don’t maintain an eternal mindset, the things of this world can cloud our minds and cause us to ask Jesus the wrong questions. We will worship the creation instead of the Creator. We will pray: “Please give me this,” “Bless me with this,” “Tell me why; tell me when; tell me all!” Instead, we should be praying, “God, YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done,” and “I may not know the details, but I trust you Lord. I submit to Your will and guidance.”
Maintaining an eternal mindset will help us admire temporary luxuries or beauties with healthy boundaries, and it will help us ask Jesus better questions than just “when” as we trust Him to reveal the details in His perfect timing. Let’s cultivate an eternal mindset today!
Discussion Question 1: What’s the difference between an eternal and worldly mindset?
Discussion Question 2: How can you practically shift your focus each day to be more eternally focused and kingdom minded?
It’s Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better: “The best is yet to come!” is a nice sentiment, but it’s only half true and doesn’t reflect the trajectory of human history. In this chapter, Jesus makes it clear that the last days will be the worst in human history. As much as we may strive for a utopian, just, wonderful society where everyone gets along and thrives, where everyone can follow their heart, make their dreams come true, and live their best life, this idealized paradise is simply not the reality of what is to come.
Mark 13:19 (NIV)“Those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.”
The Meaning Behind the Warning: What was the point of this discourse by Jesus? Was it so we could know everything that was going to happen? Was it so we could sit here and theorize, try to link it all to our present time period and interpret things based on current events, engage in arguments about when, and write endless amounts of books, essays, commentaries, lectures, seminars, and sermons about when, where, and how exactly these things would take place? Not at all.
Consider that Jesus said, “not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son” (Mark 13:32 NIV) knows when the end would come. Why tell us this detail? Because while on earth, the Son knew what the Father intended Him to know for the purpose of His saving work, but this revelation of the day and hour was not pertinent to that work. That is so important. It’s the lesson and the very point of this discourse, and honestly all prophecy in Scripture. The truth is it doesn’t matter when these things are going to occur. What matters is that we are ON MISSION, that we WATCH OUT, be ON GUARD, and stay ALERT! It’s been His point since the beginning of this discourse, and He’s said it over and over again (eight times) in these brief 37 verses in Mark 13!
Jesus tells us these things so we would not be caught off guard by persecution, trouble, calamity, war, and false teachers; so we wouldn’t be found “sleeping” on the job—“inactive in the exercise of grace and negligent in the performance of duty, unprepared for His coming, and unfit for service” (John Gill). He tells us so we’ll be prepared. He gives us what we need to know in order to accomplish the work He’s called us to. We’re to be on guard for these things so as to walk faithfully, persevere, live in reliance to Him, live on mission, and be about His work. We’re called to be about His business of making disciples and occupying until He comes. Be sober minded and ready, because it could happen at any time. And that’s all we need to know!
Discussion Question 3: What does it mean to “be on your guard”?
Discussion Question 4: Why does God not tell us the day and hour? Why is it not important to know this?
Discussion Question 5: How are Jesus’ warnings in this passage actually a message of mercy and grace?
This Week: As we move into the last three chapters of Mark on the arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus (the work of redemption done by Jesus), commit this week to staying alert and living on mission. Find yourself in His Word, in prayer, in fellowship with other believers, and walking in accordance and obedience to His Word and will and open to the work the Spirit calls you to.
In our next study, we’ll continue working our way through the Gospel of Mark with a discussion of Mark 14:1–42. In this study, we’ll discover what Jesus is worth and be encouraged as we talk about what Jesus gave up for us!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.