From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Mark 13:3-6

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”  And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.  But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.                         NKJV

Rather than immediately answering the disciples’ questions regarding events that would signal the end of the age, Jesus first gives them some general characteristics of the church age, none of which means that its end has begun.  Jesus wanted to be sure that the disciples would not jump to certain conclusions because of various events and so He first answers their questions negatively, telling them of things that would not mean the end has begun.

Just because someone appears, claiming to be Christ or the Messiah, does not mean that he is the Antichrist who will appear in the end times.  Church history has seen lots of false Christs.  I John 2:18 says, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”  By the last hour, John does not mean the “end times” but rather the last days—the final stretch between Jesus’ 1st and 2nd comings.  Even in the first century, there were false Christs.  Vespasian (70 A.D.) was one prominent example.  All of the Roman Catholic Popes have been false Christs, claiming to speak with the same authority as Jesus Himself.  Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012), the founder of the Unification Church (the Moonies) claimed to be the “third Adam,” following Adam as the “first Adam” and Jesus as the “second Adam.”  However, I Corinthians 15:45 does not state that Jesus is the “second Adam,” but rather the “Last Adam.”  David Koresh, the founder and leader of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas (1990), claimed to be the Messiah.  Jose Miranda, the current leader of Growing in Grace International Ministry, Inc., not only claims to be Christ, but has the number 666 tattooed on his forearm.  And the list of false Christs goes on.  Since the first century, there have been dozens of documented cases of men claiming to be Christ Himself.

In our text, Jesus also warned his disciples not to think that wars and rumors of wars would signal the end.  Since Jesus was born, there have been over 3,000 documented local wars with over a third of them occurring in the middle east, yet every time a war or skirmish occurs in the middle east, particularly if Israel is involved, there is a tendency among Christians to think that in some way it must signal the approaching end of the age.  This is exactly what Jesus wanted His disciples to avoid.

Jesus warns us in Mark 13:32-36 that no one knows when He is coming, not even the angels in Heaven.  Instead of trying to predict the time of His appearing, we need to be ready always for His return, knowing that the rapture of the church (I Thess. 4:16-17) could happen at any moment.  We are exhorted to always be ready for Jesus’ coming.  This means we are to be in His service and live for His glory, each moment of each day, as His Ambassadors here on the earth.

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