2nd Last Sunday of the Church Year “We Shall Not Be Moved”
November 14, 2021 Mark 13:1-13
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ
“We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,” says Hebrews chapt.12, vs 28. That promise is implied by Jesus in Mark 13. In these 2 last Sundays of the Church Year,
we are focused on the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, which will be Judgment Day and The End. He’s coming to conduct the Great Resurrection Day, and to take us home. But until He comes, we must stand firm in His promise, in His Word, & in that hope. This is what Jesus is teaching in Mark 13.
Much of what we do is focused on THE FUTURE. Children dream about what they’ll do when they’re old enough. Parents plan & invest in their child’s education so that the kids will have a good career. Our daily news involves reports predicting the future of the economy. For some, the future of the world’s climate is a concern, or the next election cycle, or the future development of some medicine. What lies in the future? How should we prepare?
What is your personal future? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know if next year will be bright & prosperous, or whether it will be dark & full of trouble. We know what happens when we base our lives on the guesses of the media & the forecasters = life becomes a rollercoaster; one day our future looks up, and then the next day we’re looking down.
How much more level & firm & calm we are when we first listen to the Lord of heaven & earth. Jesus reminds us of what has always been true since mankind sinned. The things of this world, which appear solid, will not stand. And the cross, which appears powerless, gives us a different kind of strength that will endure to the end.
In Mark 13, Jesus uses the opportunity to teach the Twelve with His knowledge of the future. The temple in Jerusalem had massive stones & really was magnificent; it had stood for centuries. No one would’ve guessed that just 40 years in the future, it will be completely destroyed. But there was One who knew it would happen; and so, whoever believed & trusted that One would remain unshaken, and stand firm during that time.
That One also knew some other future things. In Mark’s timeline, it would be just a few days and Jesus would be /betrayed, /falsely condemned in court, /scourged, /crucified, /die & rise again. Jesus never sinned against anyone, but He offended many with His honesty & the truth of God. Those in power were pushing Him to the cross. If you had 3 days to live, what would you do? (redo your will, visit family, sit & sulk, or party) Jesus went to the temple to teach; /He told parables about important spiritual things; /He debated with the Pharisees & Sadducees about their false beliefs; /He sat & watched the people, and praised that widow who, in trust, gave all she had back to God, two small copper coins. He knew future events; but He didn’t rush around & panic about earthly things, He focused all the more on the things that would last.
So He has just 3 days left. It’s no wonder Jesus wasn’t in the mood to admire the massive stones of the temple that day. He admitted that the temple was a ‘great’ building,
but the Twelve should not let themselves be deceived. ‘It will all be destroyed,’ He says. And wisely, four of them later ask Him, ‘When, Lord? What should we look for to prepare?’ As He answers, Jesus speaks a ‘dual prophecy’ =of now & later. Before the big & final End, before His return in power & glory, terrible things will happen. Yet, bad things will always be happening, and not just before End. So His message is clear, but it’s general: Earthly life has a long history of falling apart, and His believers can stand firm as a part of ‘a kingdom that cannot be shaken.’
So, 4 disciples ask, ‘what should we look for?’ And Jesus talks about 4 signs that relate to the collapse of 4 different foundations in which people tend to put their trust.
The FIRST FOUNDATION that crumbles is RELIGION. He says, “see that no one leads you astray.” The first sign is deception.(which is a spiritual thing) Many will come & claim to speak for God; and the false doctrine will sound nice, and it will fool many careless believers. Spiritual deception is very serious, because it robs God’s people of the truth; without the truth, people cannot know the real Christ, and will not believe in God’s salvation by grace & thru faith in Him. Some have claimed to be ‘the messiah’, but they never fooled many. Satan used deception;(which is more powerful & tempting) what he does is take Jesus’ truths and twist them to make lies appeal to sinful man. And that is deadly.
This deception is as old as that forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. People like the idea of ‘spiritual wisdom’; but how dangerous it is to claim to care about spiritual things but not care whether it’s God’s truth. We can see deception at work when Christians are labeled as extremist, when we are just using Christ’s own words to warn a person of their sin. Deception is at work when we see young adults led astray to be ‘religious’ in their feelings & not in Bible-truth. That’s what’s most popular today = the idea that God lets a person design their own religion, with a little of this & a little of that, whatever you want.
‘see that no one leads you astray’. Think of how deceiving it is when religious groups say it’s ‘loving’ to let people ‘do what feels right’. Or when people say, ‘be true to yourself.’ Jesus says that our ‘selves’ are corrupt in sin. It’s no wonder religions of the world call good things bad & bad things good. They see no need for repentance, forgiveness & obedience to God’s Bible-truth. This kind of religion is not true faith, and it can only end in one fiery place.
Like those four disciples, we must go to the Son of God & learn. We must never assume that all religious things are God’s things. We must always compare what we see & hear to God’s perfect Word so that we are not led astray. The religious ideas of this world, like those massive stones of the temple, will all be thrown down.
The SECOND FOUNDATION that does not endure is POLITICAL POWER. Many base their sense of security on governments, since politics is the power of this world. But no nation will last forever; not even the U.S. Nations rise & fall; countries & leaders come & go. The fact that gov’ts end is a sign that the Lord has established a better kingdom.
Recall what happened when the ‘iron curtain’ fell, in 1989. Communism in Russia & East German was to be a paradise: “from each according to his means — to each according to his need.” But it was a miserable failure of a society; the few leaders had wealthy control, and all the people had powerless suffering. What was interesting to see was that when the massive stones of human government crumbled we saw that the underground Christian faith was standing firm. Socialism & communism is bad; but our democracy-type government is also not perfect, even with all its blessings.
We enjoy more freedom & prosperity, but our government is still a shaky human foundation, and it will not last; it will be torn down.
The crumbling THIRD FOUNDATION described by Jesus is the NATURAL WORLD. Scripture says that creation itself groans under the consequence of man’s sin against God. And I’m not talking about the claims of climate alarmists who say we’re ruining the earth with fossil fuels, CO2 emissions, & having too many children. If we closed everything down & did nothing, there would still be earthquakes in California, hurricanes in Florida, and either floods or drought in the Midwest. The earth is broken because its chief creature broke away from the Creator. So the world is no solid foundation for life & peace. Even tho all of creation is impressive, like the huge building blocks of the Temple, it will all be torn down & not last.
Only the Creator is unshakable, as Psalm 46 says: “God is our refuge and strength …therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts.”
And FINALLY, the 4TH FOUNDATION to crumble stuns us. THE FAMILY itself becomes a sign of the end. Yes, we know there are outside pressures of sin that assault the integrity of the family; such as /cohabitation, /divorce, /abortion, /& homosexual unions. It’s hard enough to stand firm against those. But even worse is the sign of betrayal from within the family.
When it comes to faithfulness to Christ as Lord of this life, even our close family relationships are not an unshakable foundation. They say ‘blood is thicker than water’; but blood-relationships are not stronger than the Baptismal-relationship. In rebellion against Christ, brother will betray brother, and children will rise up against parents. The family unit is vital & God-pleasing; but if we put our spiritual trust in it, we will be shaken & crumble. So it is, that with all things earthly & with human involvement: with religion, government, nature, & family, they appear to be massive foundation-stones for life; but don’t put your hope in them, because they cannot last. ++++++++++++++++
And so, by telling us the hard truth about these false foundations, Jesus gets us to ask so that He can reveal to us the one, true foundation; so that we will know how to stand firm in our future. HE has become the foundation on which we stand & endure to the end, and are saved. He is the chief cornerstone. As St.John wrote his gospel & told us who Jesus is & what He has done, he said, “these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” Jesus is the One who has come from heaven to deliver the promise of the full atonement for all our sin
by His death on the cross. He has become the rock of our salvation; the stone the other builders rejected has become the chief stone. Death could not destroy Him as He rose from the dead, and rolled back the tomb-stone. He has shown Himself to be the only true foundation for our life; He is our future.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know the future? We do quite a bit of living toward the future, even tho we can’t know what our country will be like, or our economy, or what our children will do with their lives. On the other hand, we have heard the Son of God speak of future things, and we believe His word to be true. The signs He spoke of continue to be true.
We should look at the past and observe how many things in the world have crumbled = strong things we thought would last & didn’t. Those things are God’s signs to us; so that we will not put our trust & hope in them.
The hope we have is God-built, and it is the true foundation for our present & our future. We have His saving Gospel Promise = it is the good news of forgiveness & life -for all sinners- who are baptized & believe in the Savior Jesus. The End is coming, and by faith in His words we are not afraid. We are standing firm in our hope in Christ, & His sign of the cross & empty tomb. That’s the message we have for others when we see that they are worried about the future. The same Jesus, who once walked among us, He’s coming back to bring us -& all His people- into the kingdom that cannot be shaken. He is our future.