“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”
Fast forward a few days beyond this event of Mark 13 to the time when Jesus is prodded by Roman soldiers toward the place of execution. A group of women follows behind, hysterical with grief. Suddenly Jesus turns and silences them with these words, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children…For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:28,31).
As chapter 13 spells out in grim detail, Jesus does not expect the war against God’s kingdom to end with his own death. He predicts that evil will only intensify until, after one final spasm of rebellion, the earth gives way to God’s full restoration.
This chapter echoes, and quotes from, the Old Testament prophets. At the end of time, God will take off all the wraps. And when Jesus returns, he will appear in a new form: not as a helpless babe in a manger, not nailed to a crosspiece of wood, but as “the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”
When Is the End?
Some of Jesus’ dire predictions find fulfillment in A.D. 70 when Roman soldiers break through the walls of Jerusalem and demolish Herod’s temple—the same temple Jesus’ disciples are admiring when Jesus first speaks these words. Other predictions apparently have not yet been fulfilled.
Just a few decades after Jesus’ death, scoffers mock the notion of the second coming of Christ. “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2Peter 3:4). For all such scoffers, Jesus and the prophets have one ominous word of advice: Just wait. God will not let you go on scoffing forever. One day, the earth and the sky will flee from his presence.
By Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford (NIV Student Bible)