What is this? Mark 13 is often called the “little apocalypse” as it provides Jesus’ own abridged version of the cosmic events brought to us in the mysterious, mind-bending book of Revelation. Apocalypse means disclosure or unveiling, its when the cosmic curtain is pulled back and we get a sneak peek from heaven’s perspective. The view from Mark is violent and unsettling, “Many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am he’. You will hear of war and rumors of war. Nation will rise against nation. There will be earthquakes in various places and famines. These are the beginning of birth pangs.” Mark writes during the reign of Rome’s most perverse rulers, Emperor Caligula. The temple in Jerusalem was razed, Christians were persecuted, and families were torn asunder by conflicting loyalties. The world was coming undone. Everything was falling apart. To experience such violence, mayhem, and uncertainty was to suffer apocalypse to the bone and to the bedrock of your being. Leaving you in a perpetual state of shock.
What does this mean? Earthquakes in Mexico, mass shooting in Las Vegas, Hurricane Harvey in Houston, White Supremicists in Charlottesville, Hurricane Irma in Florida, no power in Puerto Rico, potential nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula, all coming to us up close, personal, and continuously in HD on our big screens. Apocalypse Almost?! How shall we respond? Does Scripture offer us any insights? What would Jesus say? The first thing I think Jesus would say is turn off the television. To constantly take in such doom is to be filled with dread, leaving us immersed in our own powerless. One of the curses of technology is that all the wars, natural disasters, and human evil are funneled right into your brain. So step away for a while. The second thing Jesus would say to us is to continue to do what you are able to make a difference for the gospel. So many things you cannot control, but some things, good things, you can indeed, do. Work at the food bank, join a mission project, pray for the world with renewed determination, and, most importantly, come to worship weekly to hear the BIGGER STORY of the gospel. We need to hear, sing, pray, and receive the good news of Jesus Christ to remember whose we are. Here, HE restores my soul, HE refreshes my life, and I am anchored with HIS promises.
What is the takeaway? Maybe it feels like apocalypse on a global scale, but let us not forget we have all been through our own apocalyptic experiences and/or accompanied those we love; the shattering loss of someone dear to us, the volatility of unemployment, the violence of divorce, the seismic shock of a cancer diagnosis, the fear of a family member being seized by addiction, storms of church conflict, or the naked vulnerability of mental illness. I’ve had my own Armageddons; family alcoholism, congregational infighting, my own depression, and my son’s autism. At such times, I find it a matter of spiritual life or death, to remember GOD IS FAITHFUL AND STEADFAST. I know this for a couple of reasons. Number one, this is my experience in my relationship with Jesus. When I am in the middle of the storm, I may doubt, waver, and be in want, but God gets me through. Only when I look back, do I realize that God’s grace was sufficient as promised. That leads to number two, God’s promises are shared, specified, and certified in Scripture. My grace is sufficient for you. I will never leave or forsake you. Nothing can separate you from my love. You have eternal life. HE who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus. Apocalypse Whenever, I belong to Jesus.