My dear Covenant Partners and GEM Family
The Coming Persecution: “When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit” (Mark 13: 11).
Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem, on the last leg of His inexorable march toward His crucifixion and death on Mount Calvary. At many points in His instruction and teaching during His ministry in the vicinity of the Temple Precincts, Jesus is highlighting the transition from the Mosaic Covenant to the New and Everlasting Covenant that has already begun and will reach a climax in His death and resurrection in Jerusalem, the city of destiny according to Luke.
Mark 13 begins with the dialogue that takes place between Jesus and one of His disciples as they are leaving the Temple precincts. The conversation is about the Temple, the living embodiment of the Mosaic Covenant. The disciple displays pride and satisfaction at the imposing Temple structure. He is very impressed and is probably shocked when Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple and Temple sacrifices in A.D. 70: “There will not be one stone left upon another that will not be thrown down” (Mark 13: 2). The world, as it was known and understood then, will come to an end, and a new era will be ushered in, the Kingdom of God established by Jesus.
Sometime later, Jesus is with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the magnificent Temple area. In their anxiety, Peter, James, John, and Andrew ask about the signs that will signal the destruction of the Temple. Jesus mentions signs like the appearance of impostors posing as Jesus, wars among nations, and earthquakes and famines. Then Jesus focuses His attention on them, telling them what they could expect as His disciples. Jesus is tracing the broad outlines of their lives as His disciples in the post-Resurrection era. In making disciples of all nations in the power of the Holy Spirit, they will have to embrace the same fate that He is about to embrace as He moves toward his crucifixion and death. Their fate will be no different than His. They will be opposed and persecuted. Like Jesus, they will be led away and imprisoned and brought to trial. And we know from history, eleven of the Twelve Apostles were martyred. While John did not die a martyr’s death, he endured the persecution and torture reserved for martyrs.
Jesus offers a very powerful silver lining as He outlines the crosses and sufferings His disciples will have to bear in the future. They will receive the most prominent fruit of Jesus’ Resurrection, the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Descent of the Holy Spirit will signal the birth of the Church. Through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles will be transformed beyond recognition: “When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit” (Mark 13: 11). Peter and John, the other Apostles and Paul, acted in the power of the Holy Spirit and were powerful witnesses to Jesus in near and distant lands: “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8). God bless you! You are in our daily prayers!