Monday, February 21, 2005

Second Coming

Intro: The church seems to follow themes.

  1. A while back it was “The Prayer of Jabez”

  2. Then there seems to be a cycle where the church focuses on the ministry of the Holy Spirit – as if it were some newly discovered secret of the Christian Life.

  3. Then, not too many years ago, there were a slew of books focusing on the Grace of God. Now the Grace of God is am important thing, but four or five years ago it appeared that every well-known Christian writer was putting a book on this theme in the book store.

  4. It is important to note that each of these themes is important – but they are important all the time, not just as it seems to cycle through the church.

  5. And there is at least one more theme that seems to come to prominence every so often – the return of Jesus.

Read Mark 13:3-13


Tran. The lessons of Mark 13 are among the earliest references in the NT to the return of Christ. They provide a foundation that the remainder of what Jesus and Paul and the other writers of the NT say about this important topic.

T.S. I find the return of Christ to be a difficult topic to preach.

  1. Not because I do not believe it – I most certainly do.

  2. But because I am not as sure as some of my brothers and sisters in the clergy about what is going to happen as they are.

  3. I have seen books and charts that lay out the plan. Some have included dates – all of which have missed the point. But others are more general and list event after event that, they say, will happen at the end of time.

  4. Maybe in a Sunday School class we might be able to explore all the options and some of the scriptures behind them – but for now, I will focus on what I do know and what is clear in scripture.

We will look at three lessons from Mk 13 that help us understand.

  1. Watch

      1. The conversation begins with Jesus and His disciples leaving the temple area and walking to the west across the Kidron Valley and onto the Mount of Olives.

      2. As they leave the disciples comment on the construction of the temple. The stones making up the temple were said to be “37 feet long, 12 feet high and 18 feet wide”. I'm just about 6 feet high – so the stones that made up the temple were 6X long, 2X high, and 3X as wide as I am tall. It was am impressive building and the disciples knew it.

      3. Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings.” But Jesus begins to focus their attention on what is important – for he reminds them that these buildings will not stand. He does not tell them, but 40 years after Jesus speaks these words, the Romans will all but destroy the temple.

      4. And then Mark begins the longest section in his gospel of teaching by Jesus – what has come to be known as the “Olivet Discourse”.

      5. If I was to find a recurring theme in this passage it would be the need to watch

      6. Four times Jesus tells his listeners to “Watch”

      7. The Greek work is blepto – the word is an important one in the New Testament. It is not a static activity, like sitting in the over stuffed living room chair and watching TV. Rather it is an active word – like the watchman or guard. We are to keep our eyes open, waiting for Jesus' return.

(Appl.) Too often we miss God at work in our lives. God is always there - but we get so busy, we get so involved with life, that we miss him. Yet he is there. Though the focus of this passage is watching for Christ's return, it would make sense for us to be watching for his work in our daily lives as well.

  1. Signs

    1. The events of time would come to an end – but there would be hints as to when that would occur

(Ill.) God does not do much with eternal consequences without letting His people know that it is coming. Amos says, “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” He spent a great deal of the OT preparing his people for the coming Messiah. The same is true in the NT as we look to the future.

    1. Some of these events have already occurred. The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Others were designed to help us to understand that the events of life will continue to occur until Christ returns – Earthquakes, Famines, Wars and rumors of wars

    2. These events will continue to happen – but at the same time they are precursors of Christ's return

    3. But there are also warnings – false Christs and persecution

(Appl.) Part of what Mark is trying to remind his listeners is that when all is said and done, God is in control. Regardless of how out of control life may look, God is in control. Regardless of how crazy life may seem, God has a plan that is being played out in time leading to eternity.

  1. Imminent

    1. There is one more piece of the puzzle here. Theologians call that third piece “The imminent return of Jesus Christ.”

(Ill.) Joshua's train is invariably late. We do a pretty good job of checking the Amtrak web site to determine how late it will be each time he travels. We get to the station and wait. The trains arrival is imminent – it could happen at any time. But we still have wait and we have to be ready for the train and Joshua's deboarding. We know it is going to happen. We know how its going to happen. But we only have a rough idea when it is going to happen.

    1. When we say that Christ's return is imminent, we merely means that Christ could return at any time.

    2. Look at verse 32 - “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    3. If the angels do not know when Jesus will return, if the son does not know when he will return, then I am not surprised that neither you or I know when that will be.

Conclusion:All of this is important. All of this may even be of interest. But unless it makes a difference in our daily walk with Christ, I am left, in the words of Paul, being merely a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. It is only fair to ask, “So what?”

  1. Know JesusScripture is clear that you must be a believer to be ready for Christ's return.

  1. KNOW JesusYou will be spending an eternity with him. Take time out of your week to get to know what God expects of a believer. Take time to find out what God expects of you.

  2. Be preparedI don't know when Christ will return. I know that I must be ready to meet my savior. I will want to live each day as if Jesus might return today. And am I willing to commit those parts of my life that I know are not ready to meet Jesus to Him, so He can change them?

    Are you willing to commit those parts of your life that you know are not ready to meet Jesus to Him, so He can change them?

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