9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
(Mark 13:9-13 NIV)
From our past texts, Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, and four of His disciples approached Him privately to ask when this would take place and what signs would precede that apocalyptic event.
Jesus began by telling His disciples not to be misled by others pretending to be connected to Him, and not to fear, even when the world would seem like it was coming to an end.
In today’s passage, Jesus continues His warnings about the perilous times to come. Jesus begins by telling His disciples to be on their guard – that they will suffer persecution and mistreatment because of their association with Jesus.
Despite the hard times yet to come, Jesus reminds His disciples (and us) that we have a job to do – to preach the gospel to all nations (v. 10). Jesus’ command is also a promise – that He will carry forth His message and work through us despite the persecution.
Jesus warns His disciples that they will suffer persecution from the same ones that persecuted Him – the religious officials (v. 9). Jesus also prepares His disciples for that persecution and questioning, letting them know that they do not need to worry about what to say to their questioners – that the Holy Spirit will come and guide their words when they are on trial (v. 11) and give their testimony (from v. 9).
Jesus also warns His disciples that in addition to the outside enemies of the religious officials (v. 9), there will also be enemies from within – even their own family members (v. 12).
Why is it that the deepest hurts come from those we love the most? Betrayal hurts so deeply because it comes from the very ones we have entrusted our lives to – our siblings, our parents, our children. Just like God’s warning to Jeremiah not to trust his family members, so Jesus warns His disciples to be on their guard.
Jesus ends this topic by letting His disciples know that everyone will hate them because of their association with Him. The hatred may be taken out against the disciples, but it is ultimately pointed at Jesus.
Jesus’ last comment, “but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved”, is a reminder to stay firm in our faith and not renounce Him because of the persecution in order to make life easier or safer for ourselves.
As we look at what Jesus was telling His disciples, we see that He is reminding them that their walk of faith in Him will be a marathon, not a sprint. Through suffering, we get a glimpse of what Christ endured for our sins.
May that glimpse lead us not to fear, but to gratitude to and worship of Him.
Do we look forward to suffering? Of course not. But suffering for Christ is nothing compared to what awaits us when we stand firm in our faith and welcomes us to spend eternity with Him because we have put our faith in Christ.
Paul sums this up well:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
(Romans 8:18 NIV)