Today is the fifth Friday in Lent, and we are reading the rest of Mark chapter 13. Jesus is warning his friends that the time is coming when the temple will be destroyed. A change is coming in how people will gather to come close to God. And so Jesus's followers need to stay awake and pay attention, so that they are not surprised by the new ways that God will call them to worship and to live.
In yesterday's reading, the disciples admired the beautiful temple; but Jesus told them that it would soon be completely destroyed. Today he remembers a passage from the prophet Isaiah about a time when God destroyed the mighty city of Babylon. When Babylon is destroyed, Isaiah says, God's anger will blaze out; it will be like the sun and the moon going dark. I wonder why it will be like this when the temple is torn down too?
In the Hebrew Bible, we can read passages about people from all four directions coming up to the temple to worship. But now Jesus gives us a picture of a new kind of worship: the Son of Man will gather people to himself, instead. I wonder what he wants us to see about how people will come close to God in this new time?
Jesus tells his friends that these things will happen while they are still alive. And they do! The temple is destroyed just forty years later. His words are true, and they do not pass away. Can I believe that the words Jesus speaks to me are trustworthy and true, and that they will hold no matter what?
But Jesus does not tell his friends exactly when this will happen. He does not give them a date on the calendar. He insists on leaving the right time up to God. I wonder if that was hard for them to hear?
Jesus tells his friends to stay awake, and to watch. I wonder why it is so important for them to be ready? I wonder if God is coming to them in a new way, just like the owner of the house? I wonder how they can be ready to welcome God, and the work he will give them to do?
This part of Mark is about the temple: Jesus is answering his friends' questions about the time when the temple will be torn down. But it is also a word for us today. After Jesus was raised from the dead, he went back to be with God, and we know that he will come to be with us again. I wonder how I can be ready to welcome him, and to long for the day when he will come home and make this world new?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to ask God about right now?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to carry with me into the rest of my day?
Jesus of Nazareth, son of God: thank you that we have a book filled with your words and deeds. Give us the wisdom and understanding that comes from your Holy Spirit, so that we can know you better and follow you all the days of our lives. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.