The entire discourse of chapter 13 is launched by an anonymous disciple marveling at the wonderful stones and wonderful buildings of the Temple. This temple had been completed about 30 years before, under the direction of Herod Agrippa, and was indeed an architectural marvel, the center of Jewish worship.
It was also corrupt, as Jesus highlighted when He drove out the moneychangers, and it was temporary, as He announces here. Notice that the conversation that follows is private, and is in response to the question of Peter, James, and John: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” What follows is shared with the same three who also know what happened up on the mountain in chapter 9. Don’t get so lost trying to parse what’s going on that you miss Jesus closing injunction: “And what I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake!”
The narrative returns abruptly at the beginning of chapter 14, when Mark lets you know that the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him,” but not during the feast, “…lest there be an uproar from the people.” The pace is brisk: there is an anointing, a betrayal, a Passover meal. After supper, they head to Gethsemane, where Judas and a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders finds Him. Jesus calls out their cowardice and makes Mark’s point for him: “Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me.”
The scene at the high priest’s house reflects the chaos of this past week. Accusations fly but contradict each other. Nothing sticks in a way that will allow them to legitimately put Jesus to death. Finally, the high priest steps forward, and asks the singular question that Jesus cannot avoid: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
Throughout this gospel, Jesus has waited to be asked a direct question to give the direct answer. Here, His succinct response could have come straight out of a burning bush.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 138:8: The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Mark chapters 13 and 14. Now let’s read it!
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.