Last week Jesus began His response to the disciples’ sincere questions, “When will these things happen?” and “What will be the sign that they are about to be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:4).
If it wasn’t bad enough that there would be great deception and chaos, Jesus continued with more frightening revelations. But this time, they come with promises.
Jesus tells them they will be handed over to councils and flogged in the Synagogue, and that they would stand trial before governors and kings on account of Him (Mark 13:9). Yet, because the gospel must be preached to all nations (Mark 13:10), they are told not to worry because the Holy Spirit will speak through them (Mark 13:11).
The first disciples did indeed suffer floggings (Acts 5:40, Acts 16:23), and Paul stood trial before King Agrippa (Acts 25:23-26:29), Caesar (Acts 27:24) and others. In Fox’s Book of Martyrs, we read of of the disciples’ suffering under Nero.
But it wasn’t only in the first few centuries that Christians were persecuted; it continued throughout history and continues today in such places as Afghanistan, China and the Continent of Africa.
Jesus continues, “Brother will betray brother to death and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” (Mark 13:12) We know that this continues and is a stark reminder of the reports that came out after Hitler’s regime ended and during our own Civil War.
So we ask again, “haven’t we already seen these things? Are they not still occurring?” And the answer is still yes. They must happen.
Jesus prepared us with warnings in Mark 13:5 and Mark 13:7, now He comforts us us with promises in Mark 13:11 and Mark 13:13:
- “…do not worry about what to say… for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
- “…but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Thus far, Jesus has given His disciples (and us) two pieces of advice and two promises. He has advised us to not be deceived (Mark 13:5) and to not be alarmed (Mark 13:7). And now He has assured us that the Holy Spirit will speak through us to advance the Gospel (Mark 13:11), and that though we are hated, as long as we endure, we will be saved (Mark 13:13).