During the last week of Jesus earthly life, a day or two before Calvary, as He walked through the temple compound, one of the disciples remarked, “Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!” (Mark 13:1). The disciple was looking at Herod’s Temple, a beautiful edifice, an architectural marvel, the centerpiece of Jewish worship in Jerusalem. To this, Jesus surprisingly responded, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another—all will be thrown down” (Mark 13:2).
Jesus’ prophetic statement became a reality in 70 AD when Titus, the great Roman military commander and soon-to-be-emperor, destroyed Jerusalem and its temple. But, Jesus’ predictive statement had duel meanings. He also referred to something that has yet to be seen… the end of the church age, when God will do away with the present creation.
Later that evening, as the Apostles sat with Jesus at the Mount of Olives, “Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, ‘tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?’ ” (Mark 13:3-4).
Those earliest disciples were asking the very question that modern Christians still ask. What’s next? When will these things happen? When will Jesus rapture the church? When will the Lord destroy evil and establish His eternal Kingdom? Mark’s thirteenth chapter is devoted to Jesus’ answer.
Jesus’ answer was clear. “No one knows… only the Father!” (Mark 13:32). After His death, burial, and resurrection, the disciples asked again. His answer remained the same. “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:6–7).
If a preacher announces that he knows when Jesus will return, if a book is written allegedly unlocking the secrets of the future, if anyone suggests that they have it all figured out… run… don’t listen … don’t buy the book! No man knows!
But… Jesus gave His disciples some clues, some signs. “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and they will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be alarmed; these things must take place, but it is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines”(Mark 13:5-8). False prophets abound today. Wars and earthquakes are reported in the newspaper daily.
Jesus also said that Christians would face persecution (Mark 13:9, 11-13) and that the Gospel will “be preached to all nations” (Mark 13:10). Yes, in many parts of the world, Christians face severest persecution at the hands of evil men. And, is the Gospel reaching the ends of the earth? Missionaries are carrying the Gospel, and so are radio waves and internet signals. The Gospel is being preached “to all the nations.”
One day, maybe soon, or maybe far beyond my lifespan, “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).
What’s next? The King is coming! When? No man knows.
Are you ready?