Monday, 8 September 2014
Mark 13: Inside the Huddle
I saw them on the first day of junior high. The huddle.
The backs of the popular crowd–football players, cheerleaders, homecoming court–chatting excitedly with each other. Making plans for the weekend. Catching up on the latest break up. Sharing secrets.
I soon learned this was the sight that would greet me every morning. You had to enter the junior high by going through the high school–through the large double doors, past the main office, up one flight of stairs, across the breezeway that connected the two buildings, and right into the middle of the second floor of the junior high.
At that “T” intersection stood the huddle. Over time I tried to find a way inside. I went up to a girl who was in my social studies class and asked her about an upcoming test. She quickly answered me and turned back to the group. I tried out for cheerleading. Twice. Once someone turned and complimented my outfit. I wore it every week after that.
But I never got inside.
Asking him privately
This junior high memory made me see Mark 13 differently. It is more than a difficult prophetic passage. It’s a vignette of the intimate friendship Jesus had with his disciples. This is the same friendship he offers us who believe.
Four of the twelve went to Jesus privately with questions. They were confused about what he’d just said as they left the temple. What? These monumental buildings torn down? That’s a shocker! What did that mean? When? How would they know? They felt free to blurt their questions in private because Jesus had treated them as friends.
He took their questions seriously. He answered them, not barely, but fully. The answer was bigger than they expected. Overwhelming really. But he wanted them to know the big picture with its various stages. He answered a question they didn’t ask, too. He explained how to respond–what danger was real, what wasn’t, what to believe, what to do.
He wanted to protect his friends.
Hearing his heart
A true friendship is more than one way relationship. Jesus didn’t just respond to them, he shared his heart, too. He entrusted his friends with his innermost thoughts.
What was important to him two days before he went to the cross? Two things, primarily.
- The eternal safety of his friends. His warnings and promises were meant to help them endure. He would keep them, but they needed to be wise and unafraid.
- The proclamation of the gospel to all nations. His friendship wasn’t exclusive to them. The end won’t come until he has finished bringing outsiders in–some from every people group on the earth.
In saying these things he invited them into a deeper level of friendship. Their concerns had become his. Now he wanted his concerns to become theirs. When we respond to the words of this chapter — be on our guard, watch, pray, trust the Spirit, share the gospel with the nations — we are drawing near to the very heart of Jesus, our Friend.
Elect means inside
The doctrine of election pops up in this chapter. It turns out to be comforting rather than confusing.
But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. Mark 13:20b
And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. Mark 13:27
Because we are chosen, he will cut short the tribulation. Because we are chosen, he will come for us. Elect is a friendship word. It means we are inside. He has chosen us to be his friends for eternity. He has chosen us to spread his word to outsiders so he can call them friends, too.
Share your heart with him today. And listen to his. Friendship with Jesus is a two-way street.