How many of us worry about the future? Maybe you try to reason it away by saying that you are preparing or planning for the future. But how often do we actually just plan and prepare? Research shows that over 75% of American people say that worry for the future is the highest source of stress in their lives. The future is something that scares most, but for the believer we look forward to the future with hope!
In Mark 13, Jesus is teaching his disciples about the future. This chapter opens with Jesus and his disciples leaving the Temple when one of the disciples mention how beautiful the stones in the walls are. Jesus acknowledges this with an interesting response. He says, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
This statement would’ve shocked the disciples! They had been taught their entire lives that the coming Messiah was going to be a military or political leader. That the Messiah would destroy the Romans and bring about a golden age for the Jews. But Jesus warns them that Jerusalem would be the one to be destroyed, not the Romans. So confused, questioning, and angry, the disciples begin to ask Jesus for signs that will show them when the destruction of the Temple will take place.
Jesus begins to explain all of the different signs – many scary things for the disciples to look for. He tells them there will be wars and threats of wars, earthquakes, and famines. But not only on a global scale will they experience pain, He goes on to tell his disciples that they personally will experience pain. Jesus says they will be handed over to the local councils and beaten, they will stand trial before kings, and they will be arrested – all for being followers of Jesus.
I’m sure the disciples were terrified at this point and regretted asking their question. And maybe today, you’re worried about the future as well. With all of the chaos and frustration that comes from thinking about the future, maybe you’ve found yourself worrying rather than trusting God. I want you to see the promise that Jesus makes to the disciples as they walked through these future signs.
Jesus says don’t panic when you hear of wars and threats of wars in verse 7. He says when you stand trial, this is your opportunity to tell them about me in verse 9. He says not to worry about to say when you’re arrested and stand trial, but to say what God tells you at the time with the Holy Spirit speaking through you in verse 10. Jesus says that the one who endures to the end will be saved in verse 13.
Through each of the frightening challenges that the disciples would face, Jesus gives them a promise of hope. The truth of the matter is that just like the disciples, you and I are quick to be afraid, to be tempted to jump ship, and to want to give up when we look at the future. We think about all of the possibilities and none of them look like we want them to. But can I tell you, that just like Jesus promised the disciples hope, He gives that same promise to you today?
We don’t have to be fearful of the future because we have victory in Jesus! Mark 13:26-27 says, “Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world – from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” What a comfort to know that those of who have faith in Jesus will be gathered into his presence when he returns in power!
Jesus concludes this teaching of the future with a warning for the disciples and for us today. Riddled throughout this chapter, we see warnings to “Watch out” and “Stay alert”. Jesus says that no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, so we must be on guard and stay alert! What does Jesus mean by this? He illustrates it this way in verses 34-37.
Jesus says that his coming will be like a man going on a long trip. When he left, he gave each of his slaves instructions on what to do and told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. That the master of the household could return at any time whether the evening, midnight, dawn, or daybreak. He warns, “Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning”.
Maybe today you’ve found yourself so worried about the future that you’ve been left frozen in fear. I want to encourage you today – we have the victory and power through relationship with Jesus. But that power and victory comes with the warning to watch out. To be ready for His return. When we’re ready and watchful of our own lives for Christ’s return, we don’t have to worry what the future holds.