A Reflection on Mark 13:1-13 by Pastor Katherine Olson
“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs…The one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:7-8, 13b)
A few days ago, actor Liam Hemsworth publicly shared this picture of his home in California, which was devastated by one of the recent wildfires. In the pile of ashes and rubble, a sign that once adorned his wall could still be read: “Love.” In a posting that accompanied the photo, Hemsworth went on to praise the firefighters, emergency workers, and volunteers who came together to help in the community’s time of crisis.
This photo reminded me that devastating things do happen in our world, but God’s love remains forever. God’s love for us cannot be defeated in any war, or be extinguished by any fire. For thousands of years, Christians have found comfort in Jesus’ words in Mark 13 as they have faced times of instability. It’s a comfort to hear of our Lord speak of such realities that plague our world and remind us that these things will not be the end of us. Instead, they are “birth pangs.” (v. 8) Out of such painful turmoil, God will deliver us into new life.
It is hard to understand why these realities exist in our world, but one clue comes to us in verse 10: “The good news must first be proclaimed to all nations.” God is working in this age (marked in part by sin and suffering) to bring people of every nation to repentance and faith through Jesus Christ.
As God continues to work in the midst of this uncertain age, we commit to remaining faithful, not being led astray (v. 5-6). We meet times of anxiety and uncertainty with confidence and courage, knowing that God’s Holy Spirit has been given to lead and guide us (v. 11). We commit ourselves to preaching the gospel and engaging in acts of service for the sake of our neighbor. We remember that God’s love comes to us even in the ashes, as it has come to us most especially in the cross of Christ.
See you in church,