Mark 13:14–23 (ESV)
14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.
As you read this passage, please keep in mind that it is part of a larger section that covers verses 1-37. You may want to read the whole section to get a bigger picture.
This part of the passage touches on future times and events. Jesus speaks of the persecutions that believers are going to face and that there will be false prophets and others who falsely claim to be the Christ. They will attempt to lead believers astray and there will be times of great pain and difficulty.
This passage is also a "near" and "far" prophecy. The prophecy is "near" in that it was around 70AD the Romans came and tore down Jerusalem and a Roman General, Titus, the adopted son of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, stood in the holies of holies in the Temple (the “abomination” that Jesus spoke about), and he burned Jerusalem and crucified thousands of Jewish people.
But Jesus’ words here are also "far" in that we're talking about His return, His second coming.
Make no mistake, this is shocking stuff to hear as Jesus warns of the destruction of the Temple, the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem, and the hard and difficult times that are coming are unlike anything that has happened before. Add to that Jesus warns of false messiahs who will lead people astray. It’s all a great deal to take in, especially if your one of the disciples hearing Jesus speak of these things.
As scary and unsettling as Jesus' words are, please don’t miss that Jesus is giving a warning and telling everyone to flee when these times come upon them. As always, Jesus wants His people to be rescued and safe.
So, after walking through a passage like this I always ask myself, “So what?” How am I supposed to respond to all of this? As I said before, this passage is a “near” and “far” prophecy; some of these events have already happened, some of them have not yet happened.
The bottom line as I think about this passage, Jesus is coming back. It hasn’t happened yet, so you and I still have the opportunity to share the Gospel. Think about it for a moment. There are literally thousands around us who know very little or nothing at all about Jesus. You and I are Jesus’ ambassadors, Jesus’ missional disciples, and we have the incredible privilege and calling to share God’s mercy, forgiveness, grace, and love in every relationship that we have.
Let’s make the most of our opportunity and calling.
2 Cor 5:20-21 (ESV)
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers!