Mark 13:1-37 – Jesus Teaches about the Temple’s Destruction and the Coming of the Son of Man


Mark 13:1-37


Asked about signs of the temple’s destruction, Jesus speaks of ordeals, cosmic signs, and the return of the Son of Man.


The disciples are enamored by the scale and beauty of the Jerusalem temple and exclaim, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” (13:1). Jesus’ response is to teach about the temple’s coming destruction (13:2). Peter, James, John, and Andrew ask about what sign will precede that event, and Jesus gives warnings about what will take place: others will come in his name, and wars, earthquakes, and famines will be accompanying signs (13:3-8). His followers will be handed over, receive beatings, and stand before leaders of the world, but “the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations” (13:10). There will be divisions within families, but the disciples hear that “it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit” (13:9-13). A desolating sacrilege will profane the temple along with many tribulations, including false messiahs and false prophets (13:14-23).

Cosmic signs in the sun, moon, stars, and powers in the heavens will attend the day when the Son of Man comes with great power and glory (13:24-27). Jesus’ teaching on the withering of the fig tree (11:12-26) likewise offers a sign of the imminence of all these things. Yet, in the midst of it all, Jesus’ promise holds true beyond measure: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (13:31). Jesus’ final words on watchfulness (13:32-37) draw us directly into the Passion Narrative that follows (14:1-15:47). In a parable, the unexpected return of the master during the four watches of the night ushers readers into the Passion Narrative and the events that unfold in those four watches: evening (14:17-31), midnight (14:32-52), cockcrow (14:53-72), and dawn (15:1-20).