Morning Musing: Mark 13:19-20

“For those will be days of tribulation, the kind that hasn’t been from the beginning of creation until now and never will be again. If the Lord had not cut those days short, no one would be saved. But he cu those days short for the sake of the elect, whom he chose.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The one thing that is consistent about our understanding of the apocalypse is that we don’t understand it very well. Oh, we have lots of creative guesses, some offered with all the confident assurance of knowledge, but we really don’t know very much. Because of this, we greedily grab up anything that seems like it might tell us something. For instance, in 2012, the big news of the year was that an ancient Mayan calendar ended in that year because they believed that’s when the world would end. They even made a fun, global disaster movie about it called…wait for it…2012. Happily, we sailed right on past the December calendar date of the end and are still chugging along nine years later. Let’s look some more this morning at another thing Jesus had to say about it. This bit of teaching really doesn’t add a whole lot of clarity, but it does give us something else worth keeping in mind.

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Morning Musing: Mark 13:5-8

“Jesus told them, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, saying, “I am he,” and they will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be alarmed; these things must take place, but it is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We love telling end-of-the-world stories. I’m not really sure why. There’s probably a psychological explanation out there somewhere. But whatever the reason, we love it. Don’t believe me? Do a quick search for how many books and movies and television shows are set in an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic setting. Not only are there dozens and dozens of movies, but each decade of film history has produced more than the previous with 2010s producing more than double the number of any other decade. It’s almost like there’s a sense of impending doom that is growing with each passing year. Perhaps there’s something to that, but feeling like the end is near is not something unique to this generation. Every generation has had some point at which they felt theirs might be the last. When He began explaining His observation about the destruction of the temple to His disciples, Jesus started with a bit of perspective that seems more important today than it has ever been. Let’s look at this together.

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Morning Musing: Mark 11:9-10

“Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I love magic. I’m not any good at it, but I love watching it. Fool Us with Penn and Teller is one of the shows I make sure to catch every time it’s on. One of my favorite kinds of tricks are the ones when the magician seems to have lost control of the trick, but reveals at the end that he was totally in control of things the entire time. Similarly, I love tricks where the magician leaves you feeling like you know how he did the trick only to do something a few moments later that you can’t even imagine how he could have done it. Those tricks give the audience a brief feeling of having an edge on the magician. But the truth is things were always going exactly how he planned for them to go. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem for what would be the final time, there were points along the way when it seemed like things were flying out of control. The final act, though, revealed that He had things perfectly in hand the whole time. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Mark 10:13-15

“People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The lot of children used to be difficult one. They were generally seen as a drain on a family’s resources until they were old enough and strong enough to contribute meaningfully to the household. Vaudeville-era comedian, W.C. Fields was famous for his rather sardonic quotes about children. For instance, “There’s no such thing as a tough child – if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.” Today, the place of children in some circles is so high we can scarcely imagine a world where it wasn’t. In fact, in many segments of our culture, we’ve swung the pendulum so far in the other direction that we are sometimes guilty of creating equal, but opposite, problems for them as we work out our own issues through them. That being said, there’s something wonderful about the wonder a child brings to this world. Jesus agreed. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 8:31-32

“Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke openly about this. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever really had your mind blown? The disciples thought they were really starting to figure some things out. After all the doubts and questions and misunderstandings, they had finally gotten their minds around the truth: Jesus was the Messiah. They were certain of it. Everything He had done pointed them unavoidably to this conclusion. There was just one problem? They didn’t have any idea what that actually meant. They thought they did. But they were wrong. Learning the truth was something they were not prepared to do.

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