Mark 13:24-37

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

This speech of Jesus is the last part of what is called the little apocalypse. It is Jesus’ last extensive discourse to his disciples in the gospel of Mark, and is one of two major speeches in the gospel of Mark. In this speech the storyteller as Jesus addresses the audience as his disciples. So when you are telling this be aware that you are Jesus speaking to your audience as the disciples. The imagined setting is that you are all sitting on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the temple. (If you have a projector and screen, you might even find a picture of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives and put it on the screen). It was one of the most spectacular views in the ancient world.The temple was covered in gold and radiated golden light. The temple enclosure was one of the largest architectural creations in the ancient world,and at the time of Jesus there was constant activity going on. It was the center of the nation. This speech is then given in the context of a spectacular perspective from which to see what has gone before and what is coming in the future.

Another dimension of the setting of this speech is that Mark is telling this speech of Jesus in the context of the Jewish war (66-70 CE). We don’t know the exact date of Mark. It’s possible that the Gospel was written and first performed in its present form as early as 69 CE. In my opinion, it is more probable that it was written and told first in the immediate aftermath of the end of the war. The war ended in August of 70 CE. The temple was destroyed and the armies of the zealot revolt were slaughtered. Most of the men, women and children of Jerusalem were killed. It was a time of enormous tragedy. There are a number of allusions earlier in Jesus’ speech to that experience: wars and rumors of wars, not one stone left upon another in the Temple, tribulation in those days as has never been before nor ever will be again. These were literal descriptions of the end of the war.

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