And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved
(Mark 13:1-13 ESV)
37 years later
Fire flickered in Titus’ eyes. It wasn’t the fire of anger, ambition or even arrogance – although he was capable of any one of those qualities at any given time. No. This time the fire in his eyes was the reflection of the blaze engulfing Jerusalem’s temple.
Above noise of battle, he could hear the Jews weeping over the loss of their holy site. Titus hadn’t intended on destroying the structure. He reluctantly admitted it was a magnificent piece of architecture. Still, he wasn’t sad to see it burn.
One of his men said he had seen another soldier throw a torch through an open window. The flame of the torch caught some fabric – a tapestry, maybe? The flame fanned into an instant inferno that no effort of the Jerusalem Jews could contain.
A deafening crash, a rush of hot wind. Titus turned his head almost imperceptibly to see the immense marble stones of an outer wall crashing to the ground. Who knew how many had been trapped under the collapsing structure?
“Let it fall,” Titus muttered. “I don’t care if a single stone is left standing on another.”
25 years later
John was tired. The old apostle had lived a long life. Long compared to his friends – his brothers – who walked with Jesus so long ago. They were all gone now. Dead at the hands of those who refused to believe.
He remembered a day outside the temple. Was that during the week the Lord was crucified? Yes. Yes, it was. So very long ago. He had told them. He had told them all that would happen to them. Not in detail. Not in specifics. Jesus rarely talked that way. He said they would be dragged before kings and governors. He said they would be turned over to authorities. He said they would be on trial.
And they were. Oh, John thought, he and his friends were. He remembered the first time he and Peter were arrested. Peter had healed a man. Lame, he was. From birth. Had never walked. Not one single step. Until he and Peter came along.
Peter took the lead. John laughed. Peter always took the lead. With a few words and in the name of Christ, he healed the man. Oh, what jumping. John could still see him leaping through the temple courts. He still could see the utter shock on the faces of the people and their bewildered amusement when he randomly hugged them.
That’s when Peter started speaking. Speaking out about Jesus led to the arrest and the arrest led to that day in front of the Jewish council. Oh, how Peter spoke that day! Yes. The Holy Spirit had given him the words just as Jesus said He would.
John sighed. If only he had known then what sorrow and torture he and his friends would face from that point on. He’d do every bit of it again. Even as he felt his death – his reunion with Christ – drawing near, he knew he would do it again.
Because Jesus had said something else that day. Something that had driven John and his friends to travel, to teach and to suffer.
“And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.”
Amen, Lord Jesus. Let it be.
1918 years later
What are you doing to take the gospel across the world? Across the nation? Across the street?
The gospel is still proclaimed, yet there are many who have never heard. They’ve never heard a word of Scripture – the story of God’s great love for all people – in the language they know best.
Pray for the work of The Seed Company to bring God’s word to every language in this generation.
Amen, Lord Jesus. Let it be.
These (hopefully) daily devotions for Lent have turned into daily devotions for March, which is technically not Lent but is the month leading up to Easter. They are based on the 40 Days of Lent reading plan available at YouVersion. The plan was graciously provided to YouVersion by Journey Church.