The main theme in these verses is Jesus warning and equipping his followers to be ready for the tumultous and testing events to come – events they will have to face without him.
Such things are ‘birth pangs’ – painful events before the Messianic deliverance to come.
– false prophets
– wars and instability
– natural disasters
And then there is a step up in intensity – direct persecution of the disciples:
– persecution by fellow Jews
– arrest and trial before Gentile kings
– betrayals and hostility from all
Mark’s gospel, likely written to the young church in Rome, encourages believers that no suffering they experience will be outside the knowledge of Jesus.
His exhortation in the face of such a litany of fearful predictions is to ‘stand firm’ until the end. As his followers they should expect similiar opposition, and even the same fate, as their Lord.
Their task whatever happens? To preach the good news of Jesus to all.
Faithfulness and mission are intimately connected with suffering and often death. This was the experience of the first Christians and continues to be for innumerable Christians around the world today. To suffer for following Jesus should be the normative expectation of a Christian. We pray for fellow brothers and sisters enduring persecution for their Lord today in Peter’s words:
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10,11 ESV).
The Destruction of the Temple
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.