As humans, we have a natural bent to want to know things. Especially if those things pertain to us or our family members or friends.
For instance, if someone close to us announces that they are getting married, or going to have a baby, we want to know when and we inquire about the details. Or if someone is moving or changing jobs, or having surgery, we want to know when as well as what is going to happen.
We want to know so that we can prepare ourselves for what is about to take place.
In today’s lesson, Jesus gave the disciples important information that they needed to know in light of the times they lived in. That information is also for us today. It is how we (as Christians) are to live and act in order that we might be prepared for Jesus’s return to earth.
Most people would like to skip this subject matter altogether. And others would like to believe or even act as if this won’t ever happen at all. But the truth of the matter is that these things will happen, we can rest assured, because they came out of the mouth of God.
One out of every 20 verses in the New Testament speaks about or concerns Christ’s return. And since God is a promise keeper and because He cannot tell a lie, we can trust that what He says He will do.
We just don’t know when or exactly how all these things will take place.
But the one thing we can be sure of is that they will happen on His time table. Our responsibility is be ready, watchful, and prepared because we do not know the day or the hour that this glorious event will take place! But we can be sure that it will!
Jesus’s promise to return should cause His people to watch and be ready!
After the events of chapter 22 and 23, Jesus and His disciples turned and left the Temple. Jesus, I’m sure, was deeply grieved for Israel and their religious leaders. And He was concerned for these disciples that He would be leaving soon, as the cross was drawing nearer day by day.
Mark 13 tells us that as they were walking away, one of Jesus disciples said to Him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
The Glorious Temple
The temple at that time must have been quite an awesome sight. Though not completely finished, it is said to have been considered one of the great wonders of the world at that time.
About 15 years before Jesus was born, Herod the Great had begun to remodel and rebuild the temple with and for the Jews. It had stood for nearly 500 years since the days of Ezra (Ezra 6:14-15). Herod, himself, had invested much time (about 40 years in total by the time it was completed in 64 AD) and money into the temple’s beautification.
From what we are told it was a magnificent sight to behold.
The stones themselves that the temple were built with were of great proportional size and how the people achieved their placement is still a mystery to archeologists. The weight of those stones weighed in the area of more than 100 tons. So to cut and move the stones was quite an amazing engineering feat.
The temple was built of white marble and was overlaid with gold and it stood on the top of Mt. Moriah. Josephus, a Jewish historian, wrote about it, “Being covered on all sides with massive plates of gold, the sun was no sooner up than it radiated so fiery a flash that persons straining to look at it were compelled to avert their eyes, as from the solar rays.”
The temple and its brilliance was a great physical reminder to the Jewish people, and to Herod, of God’s great favor over His people.
But they wanted God’s favor in the way that they desired it, not in the way God had prescribed it!
God’s Just Judgments
They failed to get the point of the temple structure; it was to bring them to God, not cause them to turn away. But they refused to come to God through His means of Jesus Christ. So the people would pay dearly for their lack of belief and rejection of Jesus.
And sadly, Herod had helped the Jews rebuild their temple, not to honor God, but rather to elevate himself in the eyes of the Jewish people. To win their favor and his position.
I am sure that this knowledge and the events of the past few days were weighing heavy on Jesus’s heart and mind. As the disciples were discussing the magnificence of the temple, Jesus interrupted their conversation and said to them, “Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2).
Jesus was making the point that the disciples should not be deceived by the greatness of this grand structure. It was temporal and but a shadowed symbolism of a greater reality to come!