Thankfully, we are not doing a detailed study of Mark – just a Lenten devotion. So we don’t have to get into all the detail of this very difficult chapter. There has been an enormous amount of ink, paper and megabytes devoted to opinions on what this chapter is about. We’re going to leave most of that aside.
In the first couple of verses, we can readily imagine the disciples carrying on like tourists to Jesus. “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” But Jesus gives them his party-stopper comment: “Not one stone will be left on another; every stone will be thrown down.”
The disciples must surely have been gobsmacked. It would have been nearly impossible to believe. So they ask him to tell them when it will all happen. We know when it happened: 70AD, at the siege of Titus.
Our interest today is not when this and other events described in this chapter will happen – rather we are focussed on whether they will.
As you can see from this photo, that I took in Jerusalem, Jesus’ prophecy came literally true. These stones were the walls of the temple that the disciples were admiring. And they are massive! And they’re still lying there.
You can still see the deep dent in the pavement at the bottom of this foundation wall that the heavy stones made as the soldiers of the Roman legions threw them down.
Mark devotes a large section, up to v23, at least, describing what will happen immediately preceding this event. He then quotes Jesus talking about his final return. Mark links the two with barely a pause for breath in between.
Again, we are not interested in when this event will take place – our concern today is whether it will. The answer to that question is contained in the photos above. Was Jesus demonstrated to be a reliable prophet when he predicted the unthinkable destruction of the magnificent temple?
Clearly, the answer is Yes! And so we may trust his word completely when he announces that he will be crucified, will rise again, and will one day return “to judge the quick and the dead” and to bring to fulfilment his eternal kingdom.
Remember where and when we are in this Gospel of Mark. Jesus is about to be crucified. These are the final days. He won’t waste time telling his disciples things they don’t need to know. He tells them that he is going to return, but that the time of his final coming is unknown. No man will ever know it until it happens. So whenever we hear someone telling us that Jesus is going to return this year, or after this or that event, we can confidently say that they are wrong.
But what is as solidly certain as these great lumps of fallen stone from the Jerusalem Temple, admired by the disciples as they walked through it with Jesus, is that he will come again, to bring us to our true home – heaven come to earth. Jesus provided us with this grim proof of his prophecy. And the stones still lie where they fell, nearly 2000 years later.
Read Revelation 21 and 22 with the rock-solid confidence that you see in these stones. They speak to us, and have spoken for nearly 2000 years, that what Jesus says, he means, and he will accomplish.
There is no doubt about it.