The last day of Jesus’ public ministry was coming to a close, and He and His disciples were leaving the temple mount. The temple that Zerubbabel had built during the time of Ezra had been refurnished by King Herod. Herod had a propensity for building temples (mostly to pagan deities), and the temple at Jerusalem was considered his crowning achievement. Its giant portico, and beautifully engraved walls and towers were by all accounts, quite a sight to behold.
This beauty of the temple is what began the dialogue that we find in Mark 13. The crowds in Jerusalem had been getting excited about the possibility of Jesus’ being the Messiah. His triumphal entry two days earlier was a massive indication of the excitement that was being felt in Jerusalem. His seemingly rash purging of the temple extortionists had left many confused and others vengefully angry; but on this Wednesday, His disciples were still eagerly anticipating their Messiah to take His place as the heir to David’s throne.
In their minds, He would set up a palace with each of them in prominent places in His new kingdom. Soon they would be able to have unhindered worship in this beautiful temple, just like the Jewish leaders under the reign of Solomon. This seemed like a good plan, but Jesus was about to deliver some disappointing news.
After hearing their compliments on the beautiful temple, Jesus responded by telling them, “These buildings? These buildings are going to be destroyed.” He was trying to get them to see that now was not the time for Him to assume the power of an earthly throne. Further, He wanted them to understand that this temple was not the temple that would usher in the new worship system. He had a different type of kingdom that He was about to establish, and the temple would be one of flesh, not of stone. Their entire perspective was still skewed by the things in front of them, and He was going to have to make the picture very clear as to what was going to happen.
I can almost see their brow wrinkle with confusion, and their eyes squint as they tried to understand what He was saying. Finally, they left the temple and found a spot on the Mount of Olives that faced the city. As they sat there, the disciples asked Him the nagging question. “If not now, then when?” They must have felt their hopes and dreams of great acclaim and liberation from Rome melt with His answer. Jesus told them graphic detail after detail of the destruction and desolation that would come before He would establish His physical kingdom. This week was not the week of His coronation. There were some pretty bad days ahead. There were some pretty horrible things that were going to go on. He would come and rescue them all, but this was not going to happen this week, at least not in the way they thought it should. Rather, this week He was going to establish a different Kingdom, and He was going to do it in a way that they would have never imagined. Their terror and shock was just beginning.
Food For Thought: Why do you think the disciples failed to realize at first what Jesus was talking about?