The End of the Beginning (Mark 13:24–31)

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Doug Van Meter - 17 May 2020

The End of the Beginning (Mark 13:24–31)

It is essential that Christians know what God is up to and where all of history is heading to. Without a proper understanding of the end, it is hard to know just where one should begin, which direction one should set out, and what should be pursued. Eschatology matters. It matters a lot.

Scripture References: Mark 13:24-31

From Series: "Mark Exposition"

An exposition of the Gospel of Mark by Doug Van Meter.

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James Edwards, in his comments on Mark 13, helpfully observes,

The mischief caused by the misuse of eschatology … has resulted in a virtual eclipse of eschatology in the life of the church. This unfortunate set of circumstances—both its abuse and its subsequent neglect—has weakened the church rather than strengthened it. If we dispense with eschatology, then the purpose and destiny of history fall into the hands of humanity alone. No one, I think, Christian or not, takes solace in that prospect. Unless human history, in all its greatness and potential as well as its propensity to evil and destructiveness, can be redeemed, human life is a futile and sordid endeavour.

The longing that things ought not to be as they are, and cannot be allowed to remain as they are, is essentially an eschatological longing. The grand finale of the gospel preached by Jesus is that there is a sure hope for the future. It is grounded, not in history or logic or intuition, but in the word of Jesus.

Amen and Amen!

Though Edwards, in my view, misinterprets much of the Olivet Discourse, he is correct in his observation about eschatology. It is essential that Christians know what God is up to and where all of history is heading. Without a proper understanding of the end, it is hard to know just where one should begin, which direction one should set out, and what should be pursued. Eschatology matters. It matters a lot.

“Eschatology” refers to the end. It refers to the area of theology which addresses the ultimate end to which history, under God, is moving. The Olivet Discourse fits within this category. It is Jesus’ word about the end.

We have noted that the concept of “the end” is front and centre in Jesus’ discourse (vv. 4, 7, 13). The Olivet Discourse is a prophecy of the end of the old covenant era and therefore the end of the world as the disciples, and the Jewish nation, knew it. Jesus prophesised the literal end of the temple (v. 2), which would affect the complete end of old covenant religion.

But this “end” was not a dead end. Rather, the end of one era would commence the beginning of a new era: the Messianic era, or the era of the new covenant (14:22–25). It is the era in which we live, and in which the world will continue to live until Jesus returns, receives the fullness of his kingdom, gives it to the Father in joyful submission, and everlasting glory becomes our realised inheritance (1 Corinthians 15:20–28; Romans 8:18–25; 2 Corinthians 5:1–5). This is the final end of world history: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24).

The Olivet Discourse was a prophecy about both the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning. We have taken two studies looking at the first of these: the beginning of the end.

The disciples were told to expect certain convulsions: politically, militarily, religiously, socially and terrestrially (vv. 3–13). Further, Jesus told them expect something specifically that would the final beginning of the end: “the abomination of desolation” (vv. 14–23). When they saw the abomination that makes desolate, they must know that the end of the temple, and therefore the end of the old covenant era, was finally at the end (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:10; Hebrews 1:1; 2 Timothy 3:1; etc.).

The End of the Beginning

With v. 24, we now come to the end of the end as well as the end of the beginning. That is, with the destruction of the temple came the end of the old covenant and the beginning of the new era as the new covenant era was fully inaugurated. We now live in this new era.

The prophecy of Mark 13:24–31 seals the end of the beginning. And we have Jesus’s final word on the matter (v. 31). This provides us with the confidence we need—always, even in these tumultuous days. This study is neither a theological luxury nor a theological curiosity. It is a theological necessity.

In many ways, what we are going to look at in this study is of the upmost importance as we face a very troubling present and for what, for most, will be a very trying near and perhaps distant future. I will do my best to proceed with pastoral care. This requires precision in interpreting the text as well as personal and corporate application of the principles derived from the text.

If we pay heed, I believe this study will go a long way towards providing us with peace and confidence in these trying times. This was precisely why Jesus revealed it.

A Cosmic Re-ordering of the World

In vv. 24–25, Jesus predicted a cosmic re-ordering of the world: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

I have been enjoying reading the book The Accidental President by A. J. Baime, which records the first four months of Harry S. Truman’s presidency. Truman became president of the United States upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, on 12 April 1945. Until then he was serving as vice president. Truman was perhaps among the most unlikely persons to ever serve in that position. He only entered politics when he was forty years old, having been a failed farmer, and, though hardworking, also a failed businessman.

Having never gone to university, he was chosen by Roosevelt, an aristocratic alumnus of Yale University, to be his vice president as he ran, and won, an unprecedented fourth term as president. At the time, only two percent of Americans were in favour of his nomination.

The United States was in the throes of World War II and, though victory over the Germans was near, the war against Japan raged on, costing thousands of American lives. As many have observed, no man ever arrived at the presidency at a more difficult time than did Truman. It is therefore small wonder that Truman recorded these words in his diary the day he was sworn in as president: “The whole weight of the moon and the stars fell on me.”

Of course when we read those words, we know what Truman meant. He meant that something indescribably weighty came upon him. Something earth-shaking had just changed his life. No one takes his words literally as meaning that the literal moon and literal stars fell from the sky and landed on his body. If that did happen, well, he wouldn’t have been able to write about it!

As I read those words last week I thought of this passage. And I wondered again why, when people read the Bible—Christian people at that—they not see that Jesus was speaking, like Truman, and more importantly, like the Old Testament prophets, metaphorically. Failure to hear these words like the original disciples and the original audience has resulted in so much “mischief,” to quote Edwards. A failure to do so has resulted in unnecessary confusion and in many cases. It has led to unworthy views of Jesus and pessimistic and fruitless living among true Christians. I want to clear this up in this study and all I ask is that you and I submit ourselves to the text of Scripture.

This is not the time to rely on your study Bible notes or your favoured Bible teacher. This is the time to be Berean (Acts 17:10–11) and to take seriously what the text actually says, not what you (and I) want it to say; not what you (and I) are tempted to read into it.

So, What Did Jesus Mean?

Jesus use of “but in those days” indicates, not a substantial change of subject, but rather a change of emphasis. In other words, he was not shifting from talking about the destruction of Jerusalem to some other event in the future. You must understand this.

Contrary to many interpreters, there is no reason from this text to conclude that Jesus was now talking about his final coming in judgement to earth at the end of world history. So, why do many make this claim?

First, they misunderstand of v. 26 (which we will look at shortly). Because they misinterpret the words of Jesus, they end up (interestingly, like the first-century Jews), with a wrong Messianic expectation.

Second, they assume that “but” is a word that moves the discussion to another topic altogether. This, too, is unwarranted. As is clear from the “but” of v. 14, the events discussed remain related to the destruction of the temple but the “but” indicates that a further, but related, description is taking place.

Third, they add an emphasis to the words “but in those days” in which they assume that “those days” are different than the days Jesus has been speaking about. There is no textual justification for that at all.

Fourth, they do not understand prophetic language and so assume cosmic celestial cataclysm by this language rather than a politically cataclysmic event.

Fifth, some display a fear of man: fear that, if they don’t proclaim and defend the second coming of Jesus from this passage, they will be labelled a heretic. I know what that is like. But I also know what this text is teaching, and it is not teaching us about the final return of Jesus Christ to earth. Rather, it is teaching us how to live while he currently rules and reigns from the right hand of the Father before he does return to wrap things up.

The word of God clearly affirms that Jesus is coming back but that is not Jesus’ point here. His point here is that he would come in judgement on the temple and Jerusalem and would effect a cataclysmic change in the world order. Israel would no longer be the nation at the centrepiece of God’s plan for this world. Instead, as he taught earlier, the kingdom would be taken from Israel and given to a people who would bring forth the fruit God desires (12:1–12; Matthew 21:42–43).

In other words, Jesus was not teaching his disciples about a time in their future when he would rule and reign. Rather, he was teaching them about his rule and reign as King in their near future, in their own “generation” (v. 30). Jesus could not have been clearer. How then have so many muddled it up? I have my theories, but this is not the time for that. Instead, let me prove from the text, and from other Scriptures, what Jesus taught and what these disciples and the first-generation recipients of this Gospel would have understood (v. 14).

Lights Out

Jesus had just described a great, unparalleled tribulation, whose intensity would never be rivalled. (His language, incidentally, rules out a dual fulfilment.) He now describes the result of this great tribulation: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

It sounds traumatic. It sounds cataclysmic. It sounds cosmic. And it was. But it was not literal. Note how this same kind of language is used in Old Testament prophecy.

Isaiah 13:10–13 describes the historically-verifiable destruction of Babylon in this way:

For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger.

Isaiah 34:4 uses similar language with reference to the historically verifiable destruction of Edom: “All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree.” Again, consider the prophecy of the destruction of Egypt at the hand of Babylon in Ezekiel 32:3–8:

Thus says the Lord GOD: I will throw my net over you with a host of many peoples, and they will haul you up in my dragnet. And I will cast you on the ground; on the open field I will fling you, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you, and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you. I will strew your flesh upon the mountains and fill the valleys with your carcass. I will drench the land even to the mountains with your flowing blood, and the ravines will be full of you. When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and put darkness on your land, declares the Lord GOD.

Joel foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. He called it “the day of the LORD,” which Peter said was fulfilled in his own generation. Listen to Joel’s language:

The earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it? …  The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

(Joel 2:10–11, 31)

Amos 8:9 uses similar language with reference to the historically-verifiable judgement of Samaria: “‘And on that day,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.’”

France summarises: “Such ‘cosmic’ language conveys a powerful symbolism of political changes within world history.” Further, “the dramatic collapse of the power structures is not the end of world history, but the beginning of a new and better phase, in which God’s purpose will be worked out.” I still need to prove that, but it is where I am headed. That is, this passage is referring to the end of the beginning.

But before we move to that, please note that, when God gave to Joseph a dream about Israel’s future, he used the same cosmic metaphors. Listen: “‘Behold I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’ But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?’” (Genesis 37:9–10). Note how the celestial bodies pictured the nation of Israel.

When Jesus used this metaphorical language, the disciples would not have thought that the atmosphere was going to come crashing down. They expected a “climactic change,” not a “climate change” (France)! And neither would the readers of Mark’s Gospel. Neither should you and I. They would have heard this as anyone in their day would have: A political entity was going to come crashing down. A political, social order was going to come to an ignominious end.

This would be an earth-shaking event for Israel and for the world. And since Jesus was telling them about the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, they would have understood that Jesus was speaking about the nation of Israel. As for Joseph’s father and brothers, it would have been a shocking revelation. Truly this would be a great tribulation such as “has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be” (v. 19).

The Coming of the Son of Man

In v. 26, we read of the coming of the Son of Man: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” It is this verse that oftentimes becomes an interpretive stumblingblock for the Christian—at least, for the modern Christian that is. But for the disciples, and for the recipients of this book, not so much. Again, we need to consider how they would have understood these words. And they would have understood these as a reference to Daniel 7:13–14. Listen to it:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Ever since the early- to mid-1800s, it has been popular to interpret these words as referring to the second coming of Jesus. Most commentators I have read make this assertion (France is a notable exception). However it should be loudly noted that Jesus did not use the Greek word Parousia, which is often used to speak of the second coming, because Jesus was not talking about his second coming! And neither was Daniel.

It is clear that Daniel saw the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, coming on a cloud, not to earth, but rather “to the Ancient of Days” (the Father). This could not be any clearer. It is a reference to Jesus’ ascension to heaven, not his return from heaven. The concept of double fulfilment is entirely absent from the text, however much it is present in the presupposition of interpreters.

Once again, there is absolutely no reason to see a shift in themes from the destruction of Jerusalem in that generation (v. 30) to some distant time when the Lord Jesus Christ does return to glorify his people and the entire cosmos. No, what Jesus was saying is that, when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed, it would be clear to those with eyes to see that he was Messiah, that he had received his kingdom, and that he was ruling and reigning. In other words, the old world order would be removed and the everlasting new world order would take its place.

One World Under God

Today, we hear all kinds of nonsense about governments conspiring to create a new world order, or a “one world government.” It’s too late for that. There is already a one world government and it is that of the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t pretend to know all the reasons for our current worldwide crisis but I know I am on firm biblical ground when I say that Jesus is shaking up the world in order for peoples to realise that we are not in control. Our economies are not in control. Our political ideals, whether conservative or liberal, are not in control. Our religions and man-centred philosophies and psychologies are not in control. No, Jesus Christ is in control and the sooner we acknowledge that, the better (Psalm 2:1–12).

Jesus had already used similar language (8:38). He would use similar language before the high priest (14:61–62). It is the new world order under King Jesus to which the old world order was pointing and preparing for. This was the kingdom of God that Jesus came proclaiming (1:14–15). This kingdom was prophesied throughout the Old Testament (from Genesis 1!) and, most notably, in the vision interpreted by Daniel (Daniel 2:31–45).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted from Joel 2:28–32 to point to the same truth. He was not speaking of the second coming any more than was Jesus. He, like Jesus, was proclaiming the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord, that Jesus Christ is King. Coupled with this good news was the bad news that, unless one repents and trusts Jesus as Messiah, they will be destroyed. That truth is as relevant today as it was nearly two thousand years ago.

Near at Hand

Within a matter of hours, the nation of Israel, led by corrupt because faithless shepherds, would crucify King Jesus as they professed loyalty to King Caesar (John 19:15). They even said, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). Jesus had already said that it would be. And it would be.

This was the final blasphemous act and attitude for which Jerusalem would be destroyed. Jesus had offered them repentance and restoration (Luke 4:16–20). But now the rest of that offer would be their reward: They would experience “the day of vengeance of our God” (see Isaiah 61:1–2; cf. Luke 4:16–20). With the crucifixion of Jesus, and his subsequent resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father, he was crowned as King (see Psalms 2; 110). Of course, at his trial and at the cross Jesus was ridiculed as “King” (15:2, 9, 12, 18, 26, 32). But Jesus, the risen King, would have the last word. And here, in v. 26, he indicated what this last word would be.

Upon his resurrection, he made the sovereign declaration, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). It was upon this that the disciples were commanded to herald his sovereign authority among the nations. The nations were to bow to him in faith and identification through baptism and obedience to all his commands. You see, Jesus is King now, not only later. He is ruling now, not only later. The Son of Man (a Messianic title) is the Son of God who was vindicated as such upon his resurrection (Romans 1:1–4). And this vindication would be manifested by the full removal of the old kingdom and the full inauguration of the new kingdom. We see this in the next verse.

The Global Gathering

Verse 27 tells of a global gathering: “And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

When the temple was destroyed, resulting in a politically cataclysmic change, the greatest change would occur religiously. That is, old Israel would be replaced with the new Israel of God; true Israel (Galatians 6:16). This is what Jesus was referring to here.

This verse has deep relevance for you and me. Jesus was referring to the global proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom and that his “elect” (cf. vv. 20, 22) would all be gathered, regardless of where they are (and, I must add, of whatever nation). The language here is also richly Old Testament (see Deuteronomy 30:4; Zechariah 2:10; Psalms 106:47; 107:3; Isaiah 43:5-6; 49:129).

God had promised that, when his people were scattered, he would gather them in one day. But as is clear, his people were not only Jewish people, for his elect are comprised of Jew and Gentile. The apostle John would one day clearly understand this and write,

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

(John 11:49–53)

Jesus had stated this same truth earlier:

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.

(Matthew 21:42–44)

In other words, with the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, with the removal of an Israel-centred world, replaced with a multi-national people of God, there would no longer be a geographic boundary to the kingdom of God. Jesus alluded strongly to this when he told the woman at the well,

Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

(John 4:21–24)

William Lane summarises: “In chapter 13 the judgment upon Jerusalem marks the passing of one era and the establishment of another in which the glory of God is no longer concentrated in the Temple but in the Son of Man…. Until that time the Temple of Jerusalem had been the visible centre for the gathering of the scattered chosen people.”

But what did Jesus mean when he said, “He will send out the angels and gather his elect”? The Greek term for “angels” means “messengers.” Sometimes it used of human messengers (e.g. Mark 1;2; Luke 9:52; James 2:25; Revelation 1:20). Jesus might be saying that he would send out his human messengers—Christians, like you and me—to gather in the elect through proclaiming the gospel (e.g. Romans 10:13–15).

But he may also have meant literal angels. Hebrews 1 informs us that angels are God’s “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (v. 14). Whatever that means, surely it means that God’s angels are involved, in some way, in the Great Commission. That is an amazing and an encouraging thought. When we evangelise, when we are busy making disciples, there is a whole lot going on in the unseen yet very real world. What else would we expect from our King in his everlasting kingdom?

Go Figure

Verses 28–29 return to the imagery of the fig tree: “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” We may return to these verses in our next study, but let me touch just briefly on them here.

As Jesus concluded his discourse, he once again called the disciples to pay attention to what he had told them will occur. They could be sure of this.

Many commentaries find themselves in a bit of a pickle at this point because it is clear that these words refer to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem (“this generation”). That, of course, makes it awfully strange for them to claim that vv. 24–27 refer to future events, as if Jesus shifted focus thousands of years into the future for the briefest moment. However, the solution to this problem is to not create the problem in the first place.

Jesus told the disciples that they needed to live observantly. He told them to pay attention to what was happening around them, particularly when they saw “the abomination of desolation” and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem (vv. 14, 24). When they saw these events, they would know that the new order had begun: a time of great fruitfulness, like the fig tree in summer.

Much has been made of Jesus’ use of the fig tree analogy. In many cases, too much has been made of it.

In the Old Testament, the fig tree seems to have been used as a figure of Israel (see Judges 9:10–11; 1 Kings 4:25). Therefore, many suggest that, when Israel was reconstituted as a nation (1948), it indicated the nearness of the rebuilding of the temple, the tribulation, and the second coming of Jesus (preceded, of course, by the secret rapture of the church). That is an awful lot to hang on the branches of this tree!

I don’t doubt that the fig tree was probably used by Jesus because it pointed to geopolitical Israel, just as he had cursed a fig tree in chapter 11 to point to God’s judgement upon Israel’s temple. But don’t read an entire eschatology into this. Don’t draw inferences that are just not there. Don’t make a mess out of a metaphor!

Rather, hear this figure as the disciples would have. They knew that, when the sap began to climb in the fig tree, it would bring forth shoots and then leaves, which were harbingers of summer. So it would be when they saw these things occur. As earth-shaking as these events would prove, they would bring forth days of great fruitfulness, especially as the elect were gathered in (v. 27).

The ESV reads, “You know that he is near, at the very gates.” As in v. 14, “he” would be better translated as “it,” meaning this particular era. However, if you allow “he,” it refers to Jesus, who is King of the new era. It makes the same point.

Brothers and sisters, this is not sometime in our future. It was in their future and their future is our present! We live in this new age. We live in the days in which Jesus Christ is ruling and reigning as King. We live in the days in which King Jesus is gathering into his kingdom his elect. The historical growth of the church proves this.

Why the Pessimism?

Many argue against this interpretation because they allow their experience and/or their perceptions to override the words of Jesus. Be careful. For example, many are critical of the government’s COVID-19 policies. Yet they have more information than we do. In a transcendent way, the Lord Jesus has all the facts and he knows what he is doing. As our all-wise King, we should trust and obey.

Sadly, many Christians adopt an unbiblical pessimistic eschatology because of unworthy views of the authority of Jesus. Many Christians, though they would not admit it, are persuaded that Satan and sin and self are more powerful than the risen and sovereign Saviour. Quit allowing your Christology, and hence your eschatology, to be shaped by the news and by your experience. This brings us to the last observation.

God’s Word On It

If this study seems far removed from our own experience, vv. 30–31 highlights the intense relevance of it to us in our day: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Having exhorted the disciples to pay attention, Jesus affirmed that what he had said would indeed come to pass. His words betray absolute certainty.

When the disciples heard this, I don’t think for a moment that they thought about a generation thousands of years in their future experiencing these events. No doubt, they correctly heard this prophecy as describing events that would take place in their own generation. What else could they have thought?

Lane strongly notes, “In Mark ‘this generation’ clearly designates the contemporaries of Jesus (8:12, 38; 9:19) and there is no consideration from the context which lends support to any other proposal.” Jesus confirms v. 30 with an amazingly authoritative word concerning heaven and earth passing while his words will not pass away.

Similar statements are found in the Old Testament from the mouth of Yahweh (see Isaiah 51:6; 54:9–10; Jeremiah 31:35–36; 33:20–21). Jesus, like Yahweh, used the unthinkableness of such an event as a guarantee for the truth of what he has declared to them (France). As Witherington notes, “His word is more permanent and lasting than the universe.”

Jesus’ words remarkably parallel Isaiah 40:7–8: “The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Again, hear France: “The reliability of the word of Jesus is no than that of the word of God himself.”

This is the Word of God

Brothers and sisters, take Jesus at his word. He is God and he cannot lie. Our commentators sometimes get it wrong; Jesus doesn’t. Our opinions, particularly as they are shaped all too often by our circumstances, are often wrong. Jesus is not. And in these days, this should provide great comfort.

The growth of the church assures us that Jesus Christ is ruling and reigning. France, commenting on vv. 26–27, writes, “From the national people of God to an international people of God, the powerful growth of the church will provide evidence within the living generation that the Son of Man is now the supreme authority.” The elect continue to be gathered in. Is this a reason for our current COVID circumstances? No doubt, it is part of it.

Further, in these days we should find great comfort from all the promises of God. He fulfilled the promises of Mark 13. God’s word stands. No wonder suffering believers throughout history have found encouragement (see Philippians 4:11–13).

Unbeliever, these words of Jesus should disturb you. Jesus is God and he cannot lie. He said that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born again (John 3:3). Jesus, who is God and therefore cannot lie, said that whoever does not believe upon him is condemned already (John 3:36). Jesus, who cannot lie, said that we should not fear those who can destroy our body but rather God who can destroy soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). Pay heed to his words. He alone can save you from your sins. And you need to be saved from your sins.

Comfort for the Disturbed

But, these words, after disturbing you, can comfort you. For Jesus, who cannot lie, also said, “For God so loved the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus could not lie because Jesus is God. He proved it by living a sinless life, then dying as a substitute, which was accepted by God the Father as attested by his resurrection from the dead. He said he would die and rise again. And he did.

Friend take this very seriously. The Lord Jesus alone can save you from your sins. Repent of your sins, trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and experience forgiveness today. How foolish to one day face his judgement when you can have him as your Saviour. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, taking him at his word, which will never pass away. You can, you must, believe the word of the King. May today be the day when you begin to experience a whole new world, a day of new beginnings.

AMEN