And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”  And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray.  Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.” Mark 13:1-6

After Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, he spent the day talking publicly. And now, in this story, his disciples want to speak to him privately. They have questions to ask him. This is one of the last few quality times he will spend with them before his death. He answers their questions, but not the way they probably expected. This chapter in Mark is famous not only because of what Jesus said but where he was saying it, on the Mount of Olives. It has a past, present and future significance in the Scripture, the life of Jesus and his second coming (Zechariah 14:1-4). Testifying to this fact today is approximately 150,000 graves on the side of the Mount of Olives that have been there for 3,000 years. Those buried there want to be at the holy site to walk to the temple mount in their resurrected bodies.

Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question of “what are the signs?” is “see to it that no one misleads you.” It’s like he is saying, “the signs are not the most important here, it’s your relationship to me. You have been with me, you have learned from, you know me. True disciples will be sure because they are in me.” He gives the warning not to be misled by false teachers or special knowledge, but encourages them to be spiritually alert and prepared. He tells them of near and distant events but not their chronology. He wants his disciples to be bold in their commitment, ready to have their heart and their life tested. And for Peter, James, John and Andrew in the next few days, months and years, it was.

If our goal is to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, we must know him as intimately as we can. We must know his voice, his character, his ways. We must seek to understand the truth, our faith, and our identity in him while we are waiting for God’s plans to unfold. Bank Tellers learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the real. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, learn something new about him from being with him today. Try writing a resume for Jesus. Who is he, where did he come from, what does he do, and why? Back it up with as much Scripture as you can.

By Donna Burns