The Temple – Mark 13

Having established how the teachers of the law devoured the house of the widows but enjoyed the adoration from the elite (Mark 12:39-40), Jesus presented them with an example of what is God looking for in His people. While in the temple, Jesus was observing the crowds putting money into the collection boxes. The wealthy came forward and were donating large sums of money and probably getting the recognition they thought they deserved but Jesus acknowledged a much meagre offering. A poor widow came and put two copper coins into the treasury, giving out of her poverty to God’s temple. Even a denarius, the wages for a day’s labour, was worth sixty-four times more than these coins as it was the lowest form currency in circulation in first century Israel. Those two coins were all that the widow had to live on and without them she would have no money to buy even her next meal.

A daily wage was worth around 64 such coins

Giving Out of Abundance

It is very easy for someone with a million dollars to donate ten grand in their church but it is very difficult for someone with only ten dollars in their savings, who is living off of government schemes, to give a dollar. Similarly, It is very easy for us to spend time in Bible camp during our summer vacation but very difficult to spend five minutes with God during our exam times. Anyone can give God out of their abundance but are we willing to give to God out of our shortage? It like when we lack money to make rent but we put the needs of the beggar who lacks food. When we are so busy with our work that we forget to eat but don’t forget to spend quality time in fellowship with God. The type of giver that God is looking for is not the one giving out of wealth but the one who gives out of their poverty.

It is not for her generosity that Jesus appreciated the poor widow for but rather her intention to put God first in her life more than food on her table. God loves a cheerful giver and expects the same from us when we spend time with Him. He would love it if we spend time with him happily rather than under compulsion. It is always good to give God the best time of our day but it would be even better if we could give Him the happiest time of the day rather than the time when we tired and about to sleep or while when we wake early in the morning and are in no mood to pray.

The Great Temple

As Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jerusalem and walking back home to Bethany when the disciples noticed the remarkable view of the temple and wanted to share it with their teacher as well. Rather than joining in their admiration, Jesus prophesied about the impending destruction of the precious temple of the Jews.

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Mark 13:2 (NIV)

This was perhaps the first time for many of the disciples to get a chance to see the magnificent temple. Thousands of craftsmen had worked for years to build the temple using marble, brass and even silver and gold, making it a sight to behold in the ancient world. While they were appreciating the architectural marvel, Jesus foretold the destruction of the very same temple that the Israelites held so dearly in their hearts. The temple that was supposed to be the house of God had literally and figuratively turned into a den of robbers. It had become a distraction to the worshippers and a means of obtaining satisfaction by achieving the requirements to worship God without actually connecting with God. The temple became their idol, their golden calf, while the memory of God was being erased from their minds. Even today our worship place and formalities have taken priority over the God we seek to worship. Jesus’s prophecy comes to pass when the Roman army destroyed the temple at Jerusalem in seventy AD.

When they reached the mount of olives and were taking a break from their journey, the disciples privately approached Jesus asking about the exact time of the destruction foretold. Jesus warns them about many false Messiahs and prophets that will seek to deceive many. The wars and calamities in the world would be the pains before the birth of the beautiful new Kingdom. The people of the Way would be tortured and killed causing many to abandon that path that leads to God.

The Abomination that Causes Desolation

Jesus quotes from the book of Daniel about the abomination that causes desolation. Many people think that the destruction of the temple in the second century BC was the fulfilment of the prophet Daniel’s vision but Jesus equates the writings of Daniel to another future destruction, one that the Israelites won’t be able to bear.

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect

Mark 13:21-22 (NIV)

This activity of misguiding the believers with rumours and fake sightings has risen to new heights in the age of social media. Jesus warned us to not fall prey to such ploys but the evil one massages our curious bone to distract us just as Christ had foretold. The coming of Christ would be as clear as day and just like the vultures flock towards a carcass, His return will be visible to all.

The Season is Nigh

Jesus says that seeing the Son of Man descend from heaven the people of the earth would mourn. We are not called to be people of the earth but of something much greater. The earth and all its possessions belong to the evil one. People who long after those belongings belong to the evil one and will surely mourn when they see Christ coming in the clouds. As the fig tree can let us know if summer is nigh, similarly, the signs of the end of days would let us know that Christ’s coming is near.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Mark 13:32 (NIV)

During His time on earth, Jesus was also a man who depended on God to lead Him on the right path. He constantly checked in with God through prayer and did not make any decisions before consulting His father. The disciples would have wasted time trying to get Jesus to let them know the time. Everyone wants to know the times because they want to be ready and make their life in order. No one likes a pop-quiz and no one likes a pop-rapture. We treat righteous living as a retirement plan and continue in the sinful ways of the world. The people who are curious about the exact time are not waiting for God but trying to avoid their destruction.

Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.

Mark 13:35 (NIV)

As faithful servants, we must keep watch for our master as the time of His coming is not known. If we are found to be faithfully waiting for Him, we will be put in charge of all his possessions else we will be put in a different place along with the hypocrites whom Jesus confronted in the last chapter.

Discussion Questions

  • Why did Jesus call out the offering of the poor widow but not the ones that the rich made?
  • Why did the disciples call Jesus’s attention to the temple?
  • What is the abomination that causes desolation?
  • Why will people mourn at the sight of the Son of Man?
  • Why does Jesus not know about the times? Are not the Father and the Son the same person?
  • Should we worry about the end times?

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