Insider Information: Applying Mark 13

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash

Insider information made me feel left out from the first day of junior high. From the moment I saw their huddle in the main hall, I knew I wasn’t included.

Of course, I could only see their backs. The popular crowd–football players, cheerleaders, future homecoming queens, opinion makers–were all chatting noisily with each other. Already making plans for the weekend. Catching up on latest gossip. Sharing their insider information.

I soon learned to expect this sight as the one that would greet me every single morning. You had to enter the junior high by going through the high school first–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 to become an insider. I edged up to a girl I’d met over the summer and asked her how she was doing. She quickly answered me and turned back to the group. I tried out for cheerleading. Twice. Once as I hung around looking for an opening, someone turned and complimented my outfit. I wore it every week after that.

But I never became a true insider.

An Insider with Jesus

As we continue our study of the Gospel of Mark, I’m pulling up this painful junior high memory because it makes me see Mark 13 with new eyes. It is more than a difficult prophetic passage; it’s a vignette of the intimate friendship Jesus had with his disciples. They were his inner circle, privy to the insider information of his kingdom.

And they’re not the only ones with such a privilege. This is the same order of friendship Jesus offers to us who believe.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:15

Four of the twelve had gone 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 it mean? When would it happen? How would they know? They felt free to blurt their questions to him in private because Jesus had treated them as friends.

Notice how he took their questions seriously. He answered them–not barely, but fully. His answer was much bigger than they expected. It was truly epic. But Jesus wanted them to see the big picture with its various stages. He even answered a question they didn’t ask. He explained not just what would happen, but how they were to respond when these things happened–which danger to take seriously, which to ignore, what to believe, and even what to do.

Jesus gave them insider information because he wanted to protect his friends.

His Insider Information

A true friendship is more than a one way relationship. Jesus didn’t just respond to his disciples’ questions, 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 informed, so they could 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 more outsiders in–from every tribe and tongue and nation on the earth.

In telling them these things Jesus was inviting them into a deeper level of friendship with him. Their concerns had become his. Now he wanted his concerns to become theirs. When we respond to the words of this chapter — being on our guard, watching, praying, trusting the Spirit, sharing the gospel with the nations — we are drawing near to the very heart of Jesus, our Friend.

Their concerns had become his. Now he wanted his concerns to become theirs.

Elect means inside

The doctrine of election pops up in this chapter, where it turns out to be comforting rather than confusing.

But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.

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. 7

Mark 13:20b, 13:27

Because we are chosen, Jesus will cut short the tribulation. Because we are chosen, he will come for us. Elect is a friendship word. It means we aren’t hanging around the edges, hoping he’ll throw us a crumb. No, through no special qualification or beauty or wit or virtue or charm of our own, he has called us by name to come inside. He has chosen us to be his friends for eternity.

And he has chosen us to spread his word to outsiders so he can call them into his circle of friends, too.

Take time to share your heart with him today and listen to his heart for you and for the nations. Friendship with Jesus is a two-way street.

Find more Gospel of Mark posts here.