Jesus Predicts the Future
Read: Mark Chapter 13
The Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4; Matt. 21:1) is a portion of the ridge east of Jerusalem separating the city from the Judean wilderness. The Kidron Valley (cf. John 18:1) lies between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Because the Mount of Olives is higher than Jerusalem, it blocks the view of Jerusalem’s residents eastward, giving them a tight, protective horizon (cf. Ps.125:2).
The slopes facing Jerusalem were cultivated in the first century AD; one grove of olive trees called Gethsemane, meaning “oil press” (Matt. 26:36; Mark 14:32), was a place where Jesus often stopped with his disciples (John 18:2). The extensive olive groves on the Mount of Olives were cut down by Titus to secure timber and clear the ground for his siege against the city in AD70. Remains of many family tombs dating to the time of the NT have also been found on these slopes.
Towns on the Mount of Olives included Bethany and Bethphage (Matt. 21:1; Mark 11:1, 12; Luke 19:29; John 12:1). Bethphage was likely on the crest of the mount; Bethany corresponds to the modern village of el-Azariyeh (Arabic for “Lazarus”; cf. John 11:1, 18) on its eastern slope. Remains have been found there of churches built in the Byzantine period to remember Jesus’ visits to these towns. (From ESV Study Bible Online)
Reflection from Fr. Sean
In this passage Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem. The final destruction of the physical temple would happen on the 30th of August, AD 70. The temple was burned and torn down to demonstrate that Rome was the conquerors of the Jews. There was a victory arch built to honor Emperor Titus. After predicting all of this Jesus tells his disciples about all of the obstacles and betrayals they will face.
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
Our Lord Jesus asks us to stay awake especially this week. His apostles continually fell asleep on the Mount of Gethsemane. Where is our mind this week? Are we able to calm ourselves and meditate on Jesus' suffering? His word for us remains, but the temptation is to let the noise and demands of the world crowd it out. Jesus reminds Peter, John, James, and Andrew that it will seem like the world is careening out of control — but God knows what will happen. In what ways do you feel out of control or worry about the world? How does the voice of Jesus speak to you in these things? Have we listened, or are we asleep?
Let us Pray.
O Lord our God, whose blessed Son gave his back to be whipped and did not hide his face from shame and spitting: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.