Good Morning!I am writing this morning from Orlando – it was a long drive yesterday afternoon and evening, with lots of rain, but I arrived safely. Today we continue with our discussion of Mark 13.
9 ‘As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. 10And the good news* must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 13and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Jesus has talked about the destruction of the temple – which would happen in 70 CE, when a revolt against Rome would be led by Zealots, at least some of whom would claim to be the Messiah. (False Messiah’s claiming “I am he”). And he talked about things that people would think were signs of the end, but that are not signs, but things that simply happen over time.
In verses 9 – 13, he speaks more directly to the 4 disciples there with him on the Mount of Olives. You, he says, must beware and be alert, for before all these other things come to pass, you will be persecuted. Indeed, the persecutions began in Jerusalem with the arrest of Peter (Acts 4) and the stoning of Steven (Acts 6); James would be killed by the high priest, and Peter again arrested (Acts 12). But as a part of their persecution, the Word, the Good News of Jesus Christ, would spread, would be proclaimed over all the world. When the disciples and believers were persecuted in Jerusalem, they would go from there and preach the Word around the world, as it was then known. When Peter and John were arrested, they would speak boldly before the Sanhedrin. Later, when Paul was arrested, he would speak before the governor and the king.
Jesus tells them not to worry about what they will say at such times, but to speak what the Holy Spirit gives them to say. This is a statement about times of persecution – it is specific. It is not an excuse not to prepare one’s sermons, but to say whatever comes to mind in the moment! (Believe it or not I have heard people use the phrase out of context in just that way.) Those who are persecuted rely on God, trust in God, that whatever happens, God will use it for good. This is not to say that they will always be rescued, for we know that many Christians died as martyrs. But God used those times of persecution – after such times His church has always grown! Perhaps our problem is that we are too comfortable, too complacent!
Jerusalem today, as seen from the Mount of Olives
and people praying at the "Wailing Wall"