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Private Confession: By Appointment

A Retake On St. Mark Chapter Thirteen

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Christ Lutheran Church
Rev. Dean Kavouras
November 9, 2021

A Retake On Mark Chapter Thirteen

It has been long assumed that the predictions the Lord makes in Mark 13 concern the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, and telescope out to the end of the world.

This has been assumed for so long and by so many that it is now “settled science” as President Obama once said about the climate debate. But any time one must beg the question with such an adjective, the antennae of thinking people should vibrate.

The interpretation of these verses has become reified, but like the temple let us take apart the huge bricks one by one, and find what remains: it will be Christ and him crucified.

Origen allegorizes the overthrowing of the temple, much to his credit in this case. He sees the temple as the believer who is destroyed bit by bit as he falls into sin. (ACCS P. 181)

Augustine is concerned with showing that there is no discrepancies in the gospels as to the facts of the end time, instead they supplement each other.  What a futile attempt. (ACCS P. 181)

Nonetheless I suggest that we have been hearing the end time predictions in the synoptic gospels wrongly all along; this is why the chronology given in any one of the three, or in all three in parallel flummoxes us. There is a much simple solution.

The Lord is speaking of his own death as the Great Tribulation. A tribulation which has not been since the beginning nor ever would be again. That is our Lord’s passion and death when he bore and expunged all the sin, of all humanity, of all time in his body; on the tree; in silence!

The Lamb of God “pure and holy” on the cross is the Abomination of Desolation. As abominations go, nothing can top that, or even come close to it. The destruction of the temple and the end of the world is nothing other than the end of the world. The old world! Now Christ by his passion and death and resurrection is the beginning of the New World. “For as in Adam we all die, in Christ we shall all be made alive.”

To hear Dr. William Weinrich tell it the “all things” (ta panta) of John 1:3 that were made “through him” is not the cosmos, but the new age brought about by the Cross. I am not sure how he comes to this conclusion – one that contradicts nearly every church writer who ever wrote – but I think he may be right.

And so rather than trying to chronologically predict the apocalypse by the Lord’s “end time” sayings, think of them as they are, “end time sayings" that predict the end of the Old World, and the Birth of the New, the church.

2 Comments

Janet, it could be one or the other, it could even be both, but there is a great deal to say that it is as I describe above. It eliminates all the chronological problems; it gives millenialists something to think about. And it assumes Scripture is liturgy, and not a code book, or reference book, but the church's worship book. And this segment of St. Mark I think of as liturgy, not end time information. The liturgy I speak of is Christ and the greatest liturgical action of all history: his sacrificial death on the cross.
My thought - instead of this being either/or - could this be both/and ?

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