Jesus Poster Bulletin

“Most embarrassing verse in the Bible.” These were C. S. Lewis’ words in reference to Mark 13:30, “I tell you the truth, this generation shall not pass away until all these things have happened.” 

 My guess is that C. S. Lewis, a brilliant writer who was not exactly a Bible scholar, confused “embarrassing” with “hard.” The easiest thing to do is to say that the primitive Christians read things into Jesus’ words that were never meant to be there. Or simply claim that Jesus was mistaken. I refuse both of these ideas.

Even if “this generation” only referred to the people living during Jesus’ lifetime, “these things” would be satisfied in the events leading up to and culminating with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.

But the Qumranic literature (not “Koran,” “Qumran,” referring to a sect that lived approximately 200 years B.C. and left us enough writings, including manuscripts of the O.T.) makes it clear that the “last generation” may refer to several lifetimes. “This (last) generation,” like “last hour” in 1 John 2:18, would mean “today,” or the last chapter of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. So “this generation” would refer to the final period before The End, no matter how long it is.

This appears too boring to the average person. I get it. But maybe I can make it more interesting (or not…).

Think of it this way: In the minds of the people living in New Testament times, the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ on the one hand and the Parousia (His appearing at the end, often referred to as “the second coming”) on the other hand, were not multiple events but part of one grand event. Call it “One Divine Act” of salvation of mankind.

So if they are seen as one act, since the former have already happened, the latter is always imminent. And that is why Jesus uses the idea of “watch out,” “be on the alert” throughout this chapter.

Now, here is the clincher. Imagine the words Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension written vertically on one side of a page with Incarnation at the top. Now, on the other side of the page, imagine the word “Parousia” being there. Now put “…” in between the two columns.

Do you know what the “…” represents? TIME. All these events, beginning with Christ’s birth as human and ending with Christ’s appearing at the end of the age are part of one act of salvation of mankind. And what separates one from the others is time.

God, in His infinite mercy, not wishing that anyone should perish, gives us enough time to come to terms with his offer of salvation through repentance. He could have closed the curtain down right after or during the Ascension but no, He continues to patiently wait.

And what do many of us, followers of Christ, do? We forget that the window of time is closing. We lose the urgency of telling others about His offer of salvation.

Now, that’s embarrassing, not Mark 13:30.

 

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

Advertisements