As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 13:1-37
“What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Lamar Williamson, Jr. writes, “The thirteenth chapter of Mark is happy hunting ground for persons fascinated by the end of the world” (Williamson, Interpretation: Mark, 235). This passage is commonly called the “Little Apocalypse,” and similar words are found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Williamson notes that this chapter is characteristic of apocalyptic literature, featuring “a deterministic and pessimistic view of history, anticipation of the end of the world in some great and imminent crisis, a dualistic understanding of human existence, and visions of cosmic upheaval” (Williamson, 236).
In Mark 13:1-23 Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the emergence of false messiahs and prophets, a coming persecution, wars, natural disasters, and a coming desecration described in the book of Daniel. In Mark 13:24 there is a shift. Jesus says that after this time of turmoil the Son of Man will appear. He then offers a parable reminding them to be on the lookout for the movement of God, and concludes with a command to be watchful.
When Jesus speaks these words these events remain in the future, and in many respects, this portion of Mark serves as Jesus’ final address to his disciples prior to his passion and suffering. Difficult times are just ahead. But we are wise to remember that when these words were written by Mark and read by the earliest Christians, some of these events may have already happened, were in progress, and some could still remain in the future.
In 70 A. D., the temple in Jerusalem does fall. The altar of sacrifice is desecrated. Jesus’ disciples undergo and continue to experience persecution. This “Little Apocalypse” exhorts Jesus’ disciples to long for the return of the Son of Man, and in the meanwhile to hold fast to him so that they might “stand firm to the end” (Mark 13:13). Troubles will come, but there is hope.
Jesus’ final command, to watch, is given to all disciples. Williamson states:
“On either the literal, the pragmatic, or the existential interpretation, the vision of the future in Mark 13 serves to strengthen discipleship in the present. It arms us against the wiles of deceivers. It sustains us in whatever suffering or persecution we must endure. It motivates us to get on with preaching the gospel to all nations. It ennobled and relativized the common round of daily life by making each moment subject to the invasion of the Son of man, who comes to judge and to save.”
Stay awake! Remain diligent, steadfast and unwavering in your commitment to Jesus. When troubles come, rely on God for strength, and push through. Share the good news. Bless others. Do not be overcome with despair, but instead hope in the Lord. Long for the day he returns. Watch!
Holy Spirit, open the eyes of my heart that I might be on watch for the coming again of Jesus, and strengthen my hands that I might continue working, remaining steadfast and unwavering in doing good deeds. Create in me a longing for the return of Jesus, who will one day set all things right. In the meanwhile help me be watchful. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.