The Olivet Discourse

In answering the disciples' question about the destruction of the temple, Jesus foretells signs of an imminent temporal event which will take place in the lifetime of his audience. Instead of end times speculation, the church needs to be busy with gospel proclamation and mission.

Scripture: Mark 13:1-37

Sermon Notes:

  1. Despite all Jesus has done and taught, the disciples are still focused on the grandeur of the temple buildings. Jesus shocks them with the prophecy of the destruction of the temple.
  2. The disciples ask when this event will take place; this is the question Jesus answers in His extended discourse.
  3. To interpret the text of Scripture literally means to read each text according to its literary genre, its scriptural context, and in light of the clear passages of Scripture.
  4. In speaking about His coming in judgment, Jesus references an imminent temporal event which will take place before the end of history (cf. Matt. 16:27-28; Mark 14:60-62).
  5. The key to understanding this passage is that these things will take place within this generation (Mark 13:30 cf. Matt. 24:24), and that they must therefore refer to the historical destruction of the temple in AD 70.
  6. Jesus details several signs which preceded the destruction of the temple in AD 70, including; 1) false Christs; 2) wars and rumours of wars; 3) earthquakes and famines; 4) persecutions; and 5) an expanded mission to the gentiles.
  7. All these predictions were fulfilled in detail and in a singularly remarkable way in the forty years leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem.
  8. The destruction and distress would be of unprecedented severity, so it is unmatched before and after; therefore it cannot refer to the Second Coming and the end of history.
  9. The Christians escaped when Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem (Lk. 21:20).
  10. Josephus provides a detailed history of events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem which corresponds to the predictions of Jesus.
  11. His history details civil war; invasion; disease; carnage; false worship; killing of the priests; massacre of over 1.1 million Jews; and the laying waste of Jerusalem.
  12. The events brought to an end the Jewish age and established the global gospel mission through the church.
  13. The Son of Man coming in clouds of judgment is apocalyptic language referring to the political upheaval of the time.
  14. In the clear passages of Scripture, when Christ returns in person there is the final judgment and then the new heaven and earth.
  15. Jesus is given an everlasting kingdom after the ascension (Matt. 24;30; Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 16:28).
  16. All historical judgments are pointers to the final judgment of God in history.
  17. The majority of this text refers to events leading up to AD 70, but Jesus makes references to the final judgment later in the chapter.
  18. We need to replace end times speculation with gospel proclamation and mission.
  19. Jesus the Messiah made detailed predictions that were fulfilled in the Jewish nation in AD 70; how much more should we put our trust in His Word.
  20. Much of the church is in a pragmatic slumber, instead of being watchful and alert.
  21. The focus of our lives should be the person of Christ and the calling He has given us.

Application Questions:

  1. What was the disciples’ question that Jesus answers in this text?
  2. Identify the time references in this text which are key to its correct interpretation.
  3. Why was God’s judgment upon Jerusalem in the events culminating in AD 70 so severe?
  4. What applications can we take from the Olivet Discourse?