Today as we catch up with Jesus and the apostles our journey takes a tour of the temple. As we look around at the architecture, the vastness of the temple complex, and its overall beauty, we must not forget the meaning the temple had to Judah. The temple was their meeting place. It was where they offered sacrifices to God. It was where God met with their High Priest. It was a monumental representation of God’s presence in their city. In many ways the temple was the pride and joy of God’s people. As we are touring the temple, Jesus revels some literally earth shattering news.
- Mark 13:1-2 – The temple will be destroyed.
One of 17 who obeyed the Gospel in Ecuador (Summer 2013).
- Mark 13:3-23 – When will this happen?
- Mark 13:24-27 – This temple destruction is God’s coming judgment.
- Mark 13:28-31 – These events are immediate.
- Mark 13:32-37 – The disciples are to stay alert.
Jesus tells his apostles that the pride and joy of God’s people will again face destruction. This destruction would come while their generation still lived (Mark 13:30). Many today equate the events of Mark 13 to the Christ’s 2nd Coming and the events of the end of time. But look closer. This prophecy from Jesus is about the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. Historically, those events took place in A.D. 70 during the time the generation Jesus spoke to, still lived. This is not God’s judgment on the evil of the world, but His judgment on Judah for rejecting His will and His Messiah (Christ). It would signal the ultimate dismantling of the Covenant He had with Israel through the Law of Moses and signify the ratification of a New Covenant of Love, signed by the blood of the Christ – Jesus.
As I reflect on the events Jesus speaks of; and as I look for lessons for my life; I see the following observations:
- We live in the Kingdom of Christ now. There is no waiting for a rapture for us to be translated into His Kingdom. Paul says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” (Col 1:13).
- We are reigning with Christ now. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1Pe 2:9, cf.Rev 1:6; 5:10).
- When Christ returns again, it will be the FINAL judgment for all mankind, both good and evil. “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (Joh 5:28-29).
- We must live for Christ and God now. Follow the King of kings now, while we have time, ” . . . when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed” (2Th 1:7-10).
One of the most sarcastic songs of this season is “So This is Christmas, War is Over” originally by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. If you pay attention to the underlying tone, they are saying “Who cares if this is Christmas, what are you doing the rest of the year to help the less fortunate.” If they were coming from a Christian perspective, I might think they were trying to get Christians to put charity as a part of their daily lives (cf. Jas 1:27). However, looking at the life that John and Yoko lived and the words to anti-Christian songs like “Imagine” I think I can rightly conclude that they consider Christians ignorant for believing in the Messiah and at the very least hypocritical for not following His compassion.
In reality they have a point. Consider that signs all over town, all around say Keep Christ in Christmas. Excuse me while I take liberty with that idea and say “Let’s keep Christ in Life. After all the apostle Paul tells Christians in Col 3:3-4, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (emphasis mine – BSMc).
How can we do this?
- Remember Christ’s Coming Daily: His coming at birth. Such was Prophesied: Isa 7:14 – God with us, such was Promised – Matt 1:18-21 (Name means – salvation), and such was Proclaimed – Luke 2:8-12 (Savior & Lord) Remember He is Coming again: 2 Pet 3:9-12. We remember his coming when we live worthy of His name.
- Remember Christ’s Gifts Daily. The gift of all spiritual blessings in Him through His blood – Eph 1:3-9. When we focus on all that God gives us we become better neighbors, friends, spouses, parents, children, co-workers, employers, employees, etc.
- Remember Christ’s Love Daily. Love sent Him to us not to condemn but to save – Jn 3:16-17. Remembering God’s love motivates us to obedience
- Remember to Return that Love Daily: Matt 22:36-40, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” When we live this love we proclaim His coming until He returns.
Peter, Paul, and Mary ask the question in their version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas:” Why Can’t We Have Christmas the Whole Year Through?
Well, Peter, Paul, and Mary – We can! We can when we Keep Christ in Life the whole year through.
Happy Holidays, from the McCown Family.
Marriage in the Mind of Christ
Through the years traditions change when it comes to weddings. When I first started preforming wedding ceremonies, the bride did not rehearse, on the day of the wedding, pictures were taken after so that the groom did not see the bride until she walked down the isle, and Unity Candles were in fashion. Now every bride rehearses, the couple takes pictures before the ceremony, and sand and salt ceremonies replaced unity candles and rose ceremonies. Traditions also differ between cultures and especially what is cultural through the centuries. A First Century Jew would not be familiar with our customs and traditions and we struggle to understand theirs, but we get a glimpse of a typical wedding during Jesus’ time in Matthew 25:1-13.
Here is how a typical wedding would take place:
- The groom would take the initiative and travel to the home his prospective bride.
- The woman’s father would begin negotiations with this prospective groom concerning the price the groom would pay to marry his daughter.
- When they agree on a price, the groom make arrangements to pay.
- Once the bride’s family receives payment the marriage contract (betrothal) is binding, although no physical union takes place.
- This contract sets the bride apart for her betrothed (fiance). They will drink from a cup blessed by prayer, symbolizing their contractual relationship.
- The groom returns to his father’s house separated from his bride for a 12 months.
- During this time period, the bride gathers her belongings and prepares for married life.
- The groom uses this time to prepare a place for his bride in his father’s house (on his land).
- At the end of this twelve month period the friends of the groom escort him at night to the home of the bride.
- The bride expects the arrival of her groom, but does not know the exact time or day.
- One of the escorts would shout to announce the arrival of the groom.
- The groom receives the bride with her female attendants and returns to his father’s house.
- The bride and groom enter the bridal chamber (the room he prepared) and enter into a physical union that consummates the marriage.
When I first came across this material a few things came to my mind. First there is a lot of preparation that goes into this marriage. There is a seriousness to the contract of marriage that I think is missing in our current Western Society. I am not suggesting we have to go to the same lengths that the cultures of the First Century did, but I do think, we need to do what we can to make marriage the special and wonderful relationship that it is supposed to be. The second observation is not related to our physical marriages but to the Church as the Bride of Christ (Eph 5:32).
- Christ left His Father’s home to come to earth to select His Bride (Eph 525-28)
- Christ paid a great price for the Church – His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1Co 6:19-20)
- The Church is set apart (holy, sanctified) for Christ (Eph 5:25-27)
- The Church drinks a cup with the Groom as a symbol of that covenant (1Co 11:25)
- Christ returned to the Father after sealing the agreement (Acts 1:9-11)
- Christ is preparing a place for the Church in His Father’s house (John 14:1-6)
- We are currently separated from Christ in a physical sense (Phil 1:21-23)
- Christ will have escorts when He returns who will announce His return (John 14:3; 1The 4:16-17; 2The 1:7-9)
- The Bride (Church) will go with the Groom (Christ) to His Father’s house to ever be with Him (1The 4:14-18)
- Christ’s union with His Bride (the Church) will take place in heaven for all eternity (Rev 19:7-9; 21:9-10).
- “Marriage.” The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. Isaac Landman (New York:UJE) 1948.
- “Betrothal” The Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. Isidore Singer (New York:Funk and Wagnals) 1907.
- George Eager, “Marriage.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Ed. Jas. Orr (Grand Rapids:Zondervan) 1986
- Emma W. Gill, Home Life in the Bible (Nashville:Broadman Press) 1936
- James Neil, Everyday Life in the Holy Land (New York:Cassell and Company, Ltd.) 1913
- J. Jeremias, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhad Kittle, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, IV (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans) 1967.
Here is a slide show from Slideshare.com of the lesson we studied at Parrish this past Sunday morning.