Jesus promised to return for His followers. Regarding Jesus’ return, believers often emphasize the wrong thing.
Rather than attempting to predict when Jesus will return, the challenge of the New Testament is that since Jesus is coming back, this is how you should live. The promise of the return of Jesus is a call to holiness and service rather than a call to attempt to predict when it will happen.
Be Ready (24–27)
In Mark 13, Jesus discusses both the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the end of the age. Up to this point in Mark 13, the focus has been upon the approaching war with the Romans around 70 A.D. Jesus also teaches that there will be a period of tribulation before His return.
In the immediately preceding passages, Jesus had warned against deception regarding His Second Coming (vv. 14–23).
Any individual in history who has attempted to predict the date of the Second Coming of Christ has been wrong.
This should be a warning for contemporary Christians to avoid attempting to set dates for Christ’s return.
The Old Testament phraseology “in those days” often refers to end times. The title “Son of Man” occurs 15 times in Mark as a title for Jesus and is the most common title of Jesus in the second Gospel. There is no secret coming of Jesus. Rather than coming veiled in human flesh or as a lowly servant, Jesus the Crucified One will manifest Himself with “great power and glory.”
Jesus comes in clouds and instructs angels to gather the elect of Christ — that is, those who have a relationship with Jesus. He comes as victorious King.
At that time, He will gather His elect — those who have a relationship with Jesus — from the ends of the earth.
The phraseology “ends of the earth” also occurs in Jesus’ charge in Acts 1:8.
One way to be ready for the return of Christ is to be diligent in sharing the gospel to the “ends of the earth.”
Be Aware (28–31)
Signs occur as the seasons change. In Palestine, for example, new growth on the fig tree means that summer is near.
Jesus uses an illustration from nature to encourage and inform disciples about His coming. When the branch of a fig tree becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. The harvest time has come.
When the things Jesus teaches in Mark 13 begin to happen, Jesus is at the door.
The phrase “this generation” may refer to the Jews in the first century.
A biblical generation was about 40 years. Jesus underscores the importance of His message to His first century audience by emphasizing that His words will never pass away.
Be Alert (32–37)
This section looks beyond the first century to the Second Coming of Jesus. Jesus has left the earth and returned to heaven. He gave authority to His servants and assigned each one His work assignments.
The key word in verse 32–27 is the command to be alert in verses 33 and 37. Being alert means to not be sleeping and unaware. The final command from Jesus is to stay awake.
By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida