As he was going out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!” Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another—all will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2)
Mark 13 begins a conversation Jesus had with his closest disciples about the end of the world. This teaching is referred to as “The Olivet Discourse” and begins when Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem. The temple was one of the most extraordinary structures of the ancient world. The stones the disciples were referring to were massive. The stones of the foundation were 10 x 10 x 40 feet. It took 40 years to build the temple. The problem was that the nation of Israel was living under the authority of the pagan Roman Empire and wanted desperately to be free. Many were hoping that the Messiah would soon appear to deliver them. When Jesus prophesied about the fall of Jerusalem, the disciples were stunned. How could this happen? Over the next few days, we will look at the conversation Jesus had with his disciples about the end times, but for now, let’s consider this startling prophecy.
The first lesson is that human institutions do not last, so don’t put your trust in them. While the kingdom of God endures, the religious structures human beings create are temporal and subject to change. For example, John Wesley once expressed his fear that the methodist holiness movement would not last beyond a generation. He said,
“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.’ (‘Thoughts Upon Methodism,’ 1786.)
Seeing the temporal nature of human institutions, you should learn to set your hope in Jesus Christ alone. If you are at a beginning, rejoice, but if you are at an ending, do not fear the demise of a human structure. In all things, let your heart rest in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Learn to look beyond your temporal circumstances to set your hope in his return.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for bringing a kingdom that endures. Teach me to set my heart on you and you alone. Let me not fear the demise of any human structure. Likewise, let me not set my hope on any new beginning. I give my allegiance to you and you alone.