13:1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:1-13 (ESV)
“And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Enduring to the end. It is really what this text is about. It is Christ’s concern for his disciples, Christ’s concern for you that prompts him to speak of what the future holds, what will happen as this world passes away, as this world experiences the birth pains from which will be born our new habitation the new heavens and the new earth, the birth pains that will steadily become worse, greater and more painful as the world careens to the end that will be cut short with the second coming of Christ himself that the gates of hell would never prevail against his church, the church he established to be the citadel of faith.
Mark thirteen isn’t perhaps the most comforting of passages in scripture, at least not comforting as the world reckons comfort. It speaks of the tribulation that will come upon you, that the world will inflict upon you for his name’s sake. Not exactly the most appealing message to this world. We live in a country and a world where despite the breakdown of the family, no fault divorce etc, or perhaps because of it, it is family that is worshiped and cherished above all. The church even tries to swell its ranks by promoting family values, and in many corners it does this to the detriment of the gospel. And it appeals to the world. And then there is Jesus. Pick up your cross and follow me. Believe in me and this is what you can expect from the world. You can expect your sons and daughters to turn on you and hand you over to the authorities to be whipped, stoned and crucified. You can expect your husbands to leave you, your wives to revile you. Where we can expect that people will attack us like we saw in Paris Friday night. But endure to the end and you will be saved.
Endure to the end and you will be saved. See the temptation a person has when all this is happening is to think it is happening because God hates you. But Jesus tells us here that all this happens for the exact opposite reason. It happens because he loves you. The world that has hated God, the world that has crucified the son of God, will persecute his children to the ends of the earth. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake Jesus says. For his name sake, the name that was given to you in the waters of holy baptism where you were taken up into his citadel, the citadel of Zion a living stone, made a member of the church he established for you so that you may endure, even as the city walls of this world fall, the great stones of Herod’s buildings crumble.
Yes, as our introit today says, walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, Our God forever and ever He will guide us forever. He will guide us forever, and he does this because he loves you, he prepares this citadel for you, that here your faith may be strengthened in the preaching of his word, and the eating of his body, and the drinking of his blood for the forgiveness of his sin, The supper he instituted that we would be justified by faith alone, we would not be alone in our faith, but that he would be with us gathered together in his name to encourage each other in his love, that we may endure in him together your children, your brothers your sisters husbands and wives enduring the hate of this world in the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.