Mark 13:1-31


This chapter contains predictive prophecy.  That sounds a little like calling something “wet water” or “hot fire,” but I say this because sometimes prophecy tells us what God is doing in the present.  On the other hand, this prophecy speaks of what God is going to do in the future.  We are going to see prophecies of the destruction of the temple, or wars and rumors of wars, or tribulations and famines and false messiahs.  Finally, we are going to see a promise of the second coming of the Son.


Some of the prophecies have already come to pass.  Some of them are being fulfilled today.  Some are yet to be fulfilled.  It has been likened to looking at a series of mountain peaks in the distance without being able to see the valleys of time which lie in between.





            As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”

            And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings?  Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” (Mark 13:1-2).


Jesus is going to prophesy the destruction of the temple.  This was a significant event.  This temple was not made of pebbles.  It was a tremendous edifice.  There is a single stone at its foundation which measures 15' x 15' x 60'.  There are many large stones.  This was considered to be by many the most magnificent structure in the world.

Why is this so important for us to know?  How does this prophecy and its fulfillment relate to us today?  It relates to us because of the prophecies which follow.  Jesus is speaking here about an event which took place within 40 years of His speaking.  But later in this chapter He will be speaking about an event that has not happened yet.


1.         The Importance of Prophecy.


In speaking about prophecy, one of my seminary prophessors by the name of Steve Brown used to point out several key aspects of the Bible’s use of prophecy.  I’ve borrowed them here:


a.                Prophecy points.


            “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26).


I taught the book of Revelation for the first time at St. Andrews In 1988.  I started out thinking that it would be a lot of fun.  It was.  But it was also hard.  I got into those bowls and trumpets and seals and the 144,000 and the witnesses and the beast and the other beast.  But the thing that I saw the most of in Revelation was Jesus.


The book of Revelation points to Jesus.  And the rest of prophecy does, too.


b.         Prophecy prepares.


            And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.” (Mark 13:5).


When I was in the fire department, we used to have a book of preplans.  These were written plans containing information on how we had planned to fight a fire in a particular area.  Prophecy is like that.  It tells you things about the future to prepare you.


            “But these things I have spoken to you, that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them...” (John 16:4).


            “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).


The point is that, if you are ready for the “tribulation” which Christ says we have in this world, then it will not take you be surprise.


c.         Prophecy is paradoxical.


To talk about a paradox makes some Christians squirm uncomfortably.  That is because we like to have everything in nice, neat little packages.


But God doesn't fit into our packages and neither do His prophecies.  We still see through a glass darkly.  We still await the day when we shall see face to face.  The means that we should not let prophecy divide us.


d.         Prophecy persuades.


             “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand)...” (Mark 13:15).


The thing that you need to know about this passage is that it is a prophecy originally given in the book of Daniel which had been fulfilled to the letter.


In 166 B.C. the “King of the North,” a Seleucid ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes, had come into Jerusalem and had set up an idol of himself in the Temple and had passed a law that he be worshipped.  Now Jesus is saying that it is going to happen again.


It did, you know.  Within 40 years, the Roman general Titus would come up against Jerusalem, break through with his armies, and once again a pagan would enter into the Temple.


When an archer hits a bull’s eye a hundred times out of a hundred, you don’t want to stand in front of the target when he shoots the hundred and first time.  The Lord is the archer who never misses.  When you see that His prophecies always come to pass, you are warned that He has said some things about the future and you can bank on them.


Jesus makes a prophecy about the destruction of the Temple which came about.  It was fulfilled in two phases:


(1)       The upper structure of the Temple was destroyed by the Roman general Titus in 70 A.D.  It was never again rebuilt as a place of worship for the Jews.


(2)       During the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135) the Roman Emperor Hadrian burned the Temple area so that gold melted and flowed down into the surrounding valleys.


e.         Prophecy pleas.


            “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” (Mark 13:37).


Prophecy is not given to satisfy our curiosity.  It is always given with a plea to live differently in light of that prophecy.


2.         Setting for the Sermon.


Jesus and His disciples are in the temple.  This is the same temple out of which they drove the money changers and the sellers of animals just the day before.  Now they are back.  Jesus has just finished fielding a series of subtle attacks at the hands of the religious leaders of Jerusalem.  It is in this context that the disciples come to Jesus to show Him the buildings of the house of the Lord.


They had been listening to Jesus and the religious leaders, but they hadn’t gotten it.  With all that was going on, they were more impressed with the architecture of the temple than with the building of the Kingdom.  As such, they were failing to see the true value of things.  This was a process that had carried over from the previous chapter.


Mark 12:38-40

Mark 12:41-44

Mark 13:1-2

The appearance of the scribes was deceiving

The appearance of the widow’s offering was deceiving

The appearance of the temple building was deceiving


3.         Not One Stone Upon Another.


            And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings?  Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” (Mark 13:2).


To understand the significance of what Jesus is saying, you have to understand something of the Jewish mentality.  When the Jews looked at the Temple, they saw the symbol of their identity.  When they looked at the magnificence of its structure, they thought of the magnificence of their heritage.


There is a lesson here.  It is that you should never place your source of prestige in that which is temporal.  From where do you get your self-worth?  What is the basis of your identity?  It is your job?  The car that you drive?  Your house?  Your wife or your husband?  Your good looks?  All of these are insufficient.  All of these are subject to change.


The real source of identity for the Christian is Jesus Christ living inside him.  That is the one thing that you cannot lose.  It is unchangeable.





            As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:3-4).


The disciples mulled over the prediction of the destruction of the Temple all the way out of the city.  Finally, as they were on the Mount of Olives at the end of the day, several of them worked up the nerve to come to Jesus and ask Him about it.  Notice the questions:


1.         When will these things be?


2.         What will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?


It is evident by this question that the disciples were looking for one specific event which would fulfill all of the prophecies of Jesus.  What they did not expect was that the prophecies would have multiple fulfillments.


Keep in mind as you hear the answers to these questions that Jesus and His disciples are looking down on the city of Jerusalem, spread out beneath them.  I have stood on the Mount of Olives and looked down on Jerusalem.  It is a glorious scene and one has a complete panoramic view of the city.  In much the same way, Jesus is going to give to His disciples a panorama of history.








Don’t be misled.

Many will try to mislead you





Don’t be frightened

You will hear of wars, earthquakes, famines





Be on guard

You will be delivered up, arrested, hated


1.         Warning Against Being Misled.


            And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. (Mark 13:5-6).


I’ve worked for a lot of years with the fire department.  When we were responding to an emergency, we would be given an address or a general location, but as we approached the scene, we would be looking not only for the smoke, but for the people who would be standing out in the street and pointing in a particular direction.  In doing so, we were assuming that they were pointing in the direction of the emergency.


It is hard enough to find the truth without being misled.  And so, Jesus warns that not all the people who point are pointing in the right direction.


Why are there so many different cults and religions?  Many of these name the name of Christ.  But they are all pointing in different directions.


2.         The Beginning of Birth Pangs.


            “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.

            “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Mark 13:7-8).


If you look at all of the things that Jesus is describing and feel that He is describing your generation, you aren’t alone.  The disciples felt that He was talking about their generation, too.  Indeed, every generation has been able to identify with these words.  When did these birth pangs begin?  It started at the Fall.


            To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children...” (Genesis 3:16).


The world has been experiencing them since the time of the fall.  The word translated “birth-pangs” is only found four times in the New Testament.  One of those is a parallel passage in Matthew, the second is a passage speaking of a woman suffering birth-pangs (I Thessalonians 5:3), and the third refers to the birth-pangs of death.


            “And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the AGONY of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (Acts 2:24).


Since the fall, men have been suffering the birth-pangs of death.  From the day you are born, you begin to die.  That is the result of the curse.  Jesus came to do away with those birth-pangs.  But in the meantime, they will continue.


The point that Jesus is making is that you should think the Second Coming is near when you hear of wars and rumors of wars and earthquakes and famines.  His point is just the opposite.  When you hear of these things, the end is NOT near.  You will be hearing of these things for a long time before the end finally comes.


Between the day in which Jesus spoke these words and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. there were four major earthquakes in the Roman world.


Crete (A.D. 46-47).

Rome (A.D. 51).

Apamaia in Phrygia (A.D. 60).

Campania (A.D. 63).


There were also a number of famines, some of which affected the entire known world (Acts 11:28).  The temptation of the early church would be to see these events as a sign that the world was about to end at any moment.  And so, Jesus gives this prophecy so that it will be known that these signs are only the beginning.


When Paula was pregnant with our daughter Sky, she began having labor pains.  We jumped up and drove to the hospital and she went in to see the doctor.  Do you know what he did?  He sent her back home!  He said that these were only beginning pains and that the birth would not take place for some time.  He was right!  It was not until the next evening that Sky was actually born.  The same is true of these signs.  They are only the beginning signs and they suggest other signs to follow.


3.         Delivered up to Persecution.


9                       “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.

10                     “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

11                     “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.

12                     “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.

13                     “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Mark 13:9-13).


This section is presented in chiastic form.  The central thought it that they are going to be delivered up to their enemies, but in the midst of that betrayal, the gospel will be proclaimed.


They will deliver you up


Brother will betray brother




You will be a testimony before governors and kings for My sake


Do not worry about what you shall say, for it will be given to you



The gospel must first be preached to all the nations      



The worse things get for Christians, the better they get for the preaching of the gospel.  That is good news because things can get very bad.  If you don’t believe that, then you have not been reading the newspapers.


When was the gospel “preached to all the nations?”  It happened at Pentecost when representatives of all of the major nations on earth were gathered in Jerusalem to observe the feast.  It also happened when the gospel went out to the nations in the book of Acts.  And it has happened in every generation since as the gospel has gone out to the whole world.


            First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. (Romans 1:8).


   previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, just as in ALL THE WORLD also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth." (Colossians 1:5-6).


The gospel was preached throughout the whole world in the early days of the church.  It is still being preached throughout the whole world.


Verse 14 has troubled many as it speaks of “the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”  For that reason, many have attempted to explain it away.  What does it mean?


a.         What is involved in “enduring”?


The answer is found in the context.  Look at the previous verses.  It is enduring in the presence of persecution.  The one who endures will continue to proclaim the gospel.


b.         What kind of salvation is this?


It is not mere physical salvation.  Indeed, the Scriptures record many who endured to the death in preaching the gospel who were persecuted and put to death.


This is spiritual salvation.  It is the salvation that we speak of when we say that someone is saved from their sins and from the curse of eternal death.


The godly that remain faithful through all persecution will be saved from the ultimate destruction of God’s judgment.  Those who survive God’s judgment will be called holy.


c.         The question of eternal security.


Does it mean that if you come to Christ and then turn away from Him that you are not saved?  That is exactly what it means.


            Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.

            They went out from us, but they were not really of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19).


Does this mean that you can lose your salvation?  No.  But it does mean that when a person who has declared himself to be a Christian leaves, it is because he was never one to begin with.


True Christianity is defined by endurance.  A Christian is one who continues to be a Christian.  He is one who loves God and who keeps on loving God.  He is one who holds to the gospel, confessing it with his mouth and believing it with his heart and who continues to confess it and continues to believe it.


Now it is important that you realize that this is not based upon self-effort.  The reason that a Christian loves the Lord is because the Holy Spirit has placed that love in his heart.





            14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, 15 the one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat.

            17 “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.

            21 “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23  But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. (Mark 13:14-23)


Is this a prophecy which is yet to be fulfilled?  There has been much speculation over this question.  On the one hand, there was a fulfillment that took place in the first century.  This does not rule out the possibility of another future fulfillment.  But if we fail to recognize the manner in which the prophecy has already been fulfilled, then we do it an injustice.


1.         The Abomination of Desolation.


            “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (Mark 13:14).


Jesus quotes from the book of Daniel.  There are two places where Daniel makes mention of an “abomination of desolation.”


a.         The destruction of the city and the temple.


            “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; DESOLATIONS are determined.” (Daniel 9:26).


There was coming a prince who would effect the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  Because it is mentioned just prior to this coming prince, it appears that the Messiah would first be cut off.  What we must realize is that the passage does not specifically say this.


The problem is that there are two separate historical events which relate to this prophecy.






of 166 B.C.


of 70 A.D.

"The prince who is to come..."

Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire.

Titus, Roman general and son of Emperor Vespasian.

"Will destroy the city and the sanctuary..."

Polluted the Temple, but did not destroy it.

Destroyed the Temple and the city.

"He will make a firm covenant with the many for one week..."

Hellenistic Jews made a treaty with Antiochus (1 Maccabees 1:11-13).

No covenant made.

"He will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering..."

Antiochus halted the Temple sacrifices.

Temple sacrifices stopped at its destruction.


The first of these events took place in 166 B.C.  A Seleucid ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes had come into Jerusalem and had set up an idol of himself in the Temple and had passed a law that he be worshipped.


Now Jesus is saying that it is going to happen again.  Within 40 years, the Roman general Titus would come up against Jerusalem, break through with his armies.  Both the city and the Temple would be burned to the ground.


b.         Setting up of the abomination of desolation.


            “And forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice.  And they will set up the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION.” (Daniel 11:31).


The context of this prophecy is the actions of the godless “King of the North.”  This is an obvious reference to Antiochus Epiphanes.


            For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Judah that they should follow the strange laws of the land,  45 and forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days: 46 and pollute the sanctuary and holy people: 47 set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts (1 Maccabees 1:44-47).


            Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Judah on every side (1 Maccabees 1:54).


Notice that the same phrase abomination of desolation is used in the book of Maccabees which is used both in Daniel’s original prophecy as well as by Jesus here in Mark’s Gospel.


The prophecy of an abomination which renders desolate has long-reaching effects.  The Temple was rendered desolate and it is still desolate today with the presence of an abomination - the Muslim Mosque of Omar with its golden Dome of the Rock.  The existence of that mosque in Jerusalem today is mute testimony to the words of Jesus.


2.         A Command to Flee.


            ...then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (Mark 13:14b).


This is a localized prophecy.  It speaks to those who lived in JUDEA.  It doesn’t refer specifically to those who live in Florida.  I am tired of hearing about Christians who want to run to the mountains of North Carolina to escape the Great Tribulation.


The Jewish Christians of the first century applied this prophecy to their own circumstances so that, when the Jews went to war against the Romans, they departed from Jerusalem and fled into the wilderness to escape the Roman onslaught.


3.         A Warning of False Messiahs.


            “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. (Mark 13:21-22).


This is a warning against deception.  It is a warning against Christian gullibility.  Christians are people of faith - but we need to take care that our faith not be turned into gullibility.  We need to check things out.  This applies to preachers and it applies to congregations.  The reason that there are so many cults today is because people have been far too gullible.




Up to this point, Jesus has been describing the coming destruction of Jerusalem which was to occur within a generation.  But now, although it is not obvious from the text, there is a change.  He now describes His Second Coming in terms which seem to go far beyond the events of 70 A.D.


1.         Sun, Moon and Stars.


            “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. (Mark 13:24-25).


The amazing thing about this prophecy is that Peter indicated a partial fulfillment taking place on the Day of Pentecost.


Acts 2 relates the account of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the New Testament church, followed by the tongues experience.  In the midst of it, Peter stood up and addressed the onlookers.  He quoted Joel 2:28-32 which described the sun being turned to darkness and the moon into blood.  And he indicated that it had happened!


When did this take place?  It happened when Christ hung on the cross.  The sun was darkened.  There was a great earthquake.  Graves were opened and people came out of them.


Now Jesus says that it is going to happen again.  Once again the sun will be darkened.  Once again the powers of heaven will be shaken.  And, although He does not mention it here, the graves will once again be opened.


2.         The Coming of the Son of Man.


            “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. (Mark 13:26).


The mention of “clouds” seems to be significant, especially as it is repeated in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where “we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the CLOUDS of the air” to meet the Lord.  It is mentioned again in Revelation 1:7 where we read that “He is coming with the clouds.”

This had an Old Testament significance.  It looked back to the time when the Children of Israel were in the wilderness and the presence of the Lord guided them by means of a cloud.  When the time came to dedicate the Tabernacle to the Lord, the cloud came and settled upon the Tabernacle.


The same thing happened in the days of Solomon.  When the Ark of the covenant was brought into the Temple, “the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10-11).


However, the most striking parallel between the words of Jesus and of the Old Testament are to be found in Daniel’s vision of the “Ancient of Days.”


“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the CLOUDS of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days,

And was presented before Him.” (Daniel 7:13).


The cloud served as a mantle for the glory of God.  It was not for God’s benefit - it was for OUR benefit.  It protected men from the terrible glory of God.


3.         The Gathering of the Elect.


            “And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. (Mark 13:27).


The culmination of the coming of the Son is when He gathers together His elect - His chosen people.  The Greek                                can be literally translated, “from the tip of earth to the tip of heaven.”


This gathering seems to be the same one described by Paul in his epistle to the Thessalonians when he said that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” and that “we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).


The Dispensationalist holds this to be two separate events: A secret “rapture” followed by the Second Coming of Christ.  However, the Scriptures never make any distinction between two separate future comings.




Back in verses 3-4, the original question of the disciples had been twofold:  They had asked WHEN.  They had asked what the SIGN would be.  Jesus has given the signs.  Now He deals with the first question.  This is the question of WHEN.



What You Know

Parable of the Fig Tree


He is near


This Generation shall not

Pass Away


Heaven and Earth shall



My words shall not


What You Don’t Know

No one knows the day or the hour

  Keep on the Alert

- Parable

  Keep on the Alert

- Application

  Keep on the Alert


1.         The Parable of the Fig Tree.


            “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.

            “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (Mark 13:28-29).


This is the second time that we have seen Jesus using a fig tree as an illustration.  The first time had been when He had cursed the fig tree for not producing fruit.  Do you remember what it had produced?  LEAVES!  Jesus takes the same tree to illustrate this next point.


When you look at a fig tree and see leaves, you know that winter is past and that summer is soon approaching.  Leaves don’t bloom in the winter.  They are a sign of coming summer.  When you look at the signs which He has given and see them come to pass, then you know that Jesus’ return is closer than it was.


2.     Things that Pass.


                        “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Mark 13:30-31).


Verse 30 presents us with a problem.  Jesus said that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”  To make the language even stronger, we see a double negative used in the Greek text.  When we use a double negative in English, it cancels the force of the negative, but when you do it in Greek, it makes the negative even stronger.  Thus, Jesus is saying that this generation will not in any way pass away until all these things take place.  And yet, it is evident that a number of generations have taken place since the days of Jesus and not all of these prophecies have taken place.  There are several possible ways to understand this prophecy.


a.         The preterist view.


The preterists view every prophecy in this chapter as having been completely fulfilled in the first century.  That means the reference to the “Son of Man coming in the clouds” speaks of God’s hand of judgment against the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.


b.         The future generation view.


Another possibility is that all of the prophecies will take place within the space of a single generation, but that generation has not yet come.  “The promise is that the end-time crisis will not be of indefinite duration” (Hiebert).


c.         The Semitic view.


Hendricksen and Ryle teach that Jesus is referring to the Jewish people who will not have passed away before the time of the Second Coming.  Lenski suggests that Jesus is speaking with the type of Jews with whom He had contended.


Which one of these views is right?  Perhaps there is a sense in which they all are.  All of the signs of this chapter were fulfilled in the first century with the sole exception of the Second Coming.  That event which is still future does not mandate a long, drawn-out process.  God’s people will still be around when He returns.


3.         The Great Unknown.


            “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Mark 13:32).


All attempts to determine the time of the Lord’s return are doomed to failure, for this information is known only to the Father.  This means you can put away your future prophecy charts.  We simply don’t have all of the information.  If Jesus Himself did not know the date of His return, then we are not likely to come up with such a date through our own calculations.


The fact that the Son did not know the day or hour of His return indicates the limitation of the incarnation.  Jesus was confined to a human body.  He was fully God, but He was also fully man.  Because He was man, He underwent a limitation of His knowledge.


4.         Keep on the Alert.


            33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.

            34 “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.

            35 “Therefore, be on the alert ‑‑ for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the morning ‑‑ 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” (Mark 13:33-37).


Jesus ends this discourse in the same way He started it — with a warning.  The warning is that of watchfulness.  Be on the alert!  This is the point on which the passage ends.  It is the lesson that we, the readers, are to take away from this sermon.


In verses 35, Jesus lists all four watches of the night.  He is listing the possibilities of His return.  It might be soon or it might be far off.


• Evening.

• Midnight.

• Cock crow (literally, “rooster-sound”).

• Morning (“early”).


The point is that you do not know when Christ is going to come and so we should be watchful in EVERY age and at ALL times.  What does it mean to be watchful?  It means that we should be constantly faithful, serving the Lord at all times.


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