The gospel that divides

This morning I was studying Mark 13 in preparation for a sermon and was confronted with something that I must confess I give little thought to. Jesus had been “informed” by one of his disciples about the splendid stones and buildings that made up the temple complex (13:1). Jesus replied that all the stones that made up the temple would be torn down (13:2), a prophecy fulfilled in AD 70. He was then asked a two-part question by his disciples that in effect was, When will the end come and what will be the sign of the end (13:4)? Jesus then exhorted them not to misinterpret global events (13:5-8) and to be ready for coming persecution (13:9-13).

It was the source of this promised persecution that I had read many times over but to which I had lately given little contemplation. In verse 12 Jesus said, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.” Then in verse 13a, Jesus added something that is often not heard in pulpits today when people are invited to consider the claims of Christ, namely, “You will be hated by all because of My name.”

Church history validates the prediction of Christ regarding martyrdom through the agency of family members. (For that matter, church history also demonstrates how church members have “handed over” its own to suffering and death). The gospel message does divide, or to quote the Savior from another passage,

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt 10:34)

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Categories: Christ, Christian living, Church, Eschatology, Gospels

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