A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 12:38-13:20 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study


Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Mark 12:38-13:20

We have reached the point in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus is in Jerusalem where He is shortly to be arrested and tried. During these seven days, He is saying things which are very direct and fearless, revealing His complete understanding of those around Him. How important it was for people to listen. His every word was full of importance. I hope we too can see that as we journey through this story.

Verses 38-40 As He taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the market places, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the place of honour at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

Jesus was very aware of the hypocrisy practised by many of the Jewish leaders. No doubt these men thought their own importance was to be maintained at all cost. Putting on a good show in the eyes of the public made them feel significant and able to look down on others. The real truth however, was that they were cruel to the poor, taking advantage of them. Despite their lengthy prayers, they were in line for severe punishment.

Verses 41-44 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in everything—all she had to live on.”

We see here how totally aware Jesus was of what was going on around Him. He saw the display of those who wanted to be seen as big givers, but He saw past that and noted the genuineness of the widow. He not only knew she was a widow, He knew that she gave all she had. How important it is for us to realize that Jesus knows all and only approves of the genuine and real.

Ancient walls, Jerusalem

Chapter 13
Verses 1 & 2 As He was leaving the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
“Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.

This chapter deals with things to come in the future. Other prophetic chapters are Matthew 24 and Luke 21. To understand them, some knowledge of the Old Testament prophets is necessary. The Bible has been proven true down through the years and still is being fulfilled. The buildings mentioned here were completed in the days of Herod the Great and were a point of great pride to the Jews. Surprisingly, Jesus said they were doomed.
In 70 AD Jerusalem was laid low by a military action of Rome and the temple buildings were wrecked. This was close to 40 years after the death of Jesus.

Verses 3 & 4 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

The teaching which follows in this chapter looks down the years from Jesus’ day to the time of His second coming to earth. No dates are given nor any detail. Yet what is said is important to readers of any stage of history. We can only gain a clear picture by comparing Scripture with Scripture from the Bible as a whole. Jesus was warning His hearers and every following generation.

Verses 5-8 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no-one deceives you. Many shall come in my name, claiming ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

Obviously, Jesus is not here referring to what was to happen in 70AD. He is talking about a longer period in which such things would occur and makes mention of “the end”. These signs are all with us today of course and the world is more aware of them than ever before because of modern communication.

Verses 9 & 10 You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the Gospel must first be preached to all nations.

Jesus made it clear to His disciples that persecution lay ahead for them. In fact, the Bible promises that those who follow Christ will not always be popular and at times will be attacked and killed. This did occur as we read in the Book of Acts. Their witness was fearless. Never- the-less, the task of bringing the Gospel to all nations was to take a lot longer than the lifetime of the disciples.

Verses 11-13 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given to you at the time; for it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit.
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

These warnings sound grim and frightening. But history right up to the present day shows that there is no exaggeration. These things happened and are happening in our world. The scale of treachery and the suffering of the innocent are not readily acknowledged in our world. We cannot give answers to all the questions this raises, such as why should such things happen when God is in control. But we certainly have been told by Jesus that they would happen.

Verse 14 When you see ‘ the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

This reference can only be understood by reading the Book of Daniel. Briefly, a wicked man, the AntiChrist, in a coming day will defile the temple with a sacrifice described as “abominable.’ Once again, a warning sign is given which the disciples who were listening would not live to see. How wonderful that all generations until now have the written record of what Jesus taught.

Verses 15-20 Let no-one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no-one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning when God created the world, until now—and never to be equalled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no-one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom He has chosen, He has shortened them.

These are truly severe warnings. But we must realize that on the one hand God is a holy God who cannot overlook sin. He must judge it. On the other hand, evil is capable of all things repulsive and horrible. Mankind has gone a long way down the wrong road and the consequences are disastrous.
Yes, things will not get better in our world as the end draws nearer, but salvation is available to “Whoever will’” That is, whoever will take Jesus as Saviour and Lord of their lives. Even though they may be persecuted, eternal life is theirs. Joy is up ahead. For those who don’t have Christ as Saviour, the Bible gives no hope while they remain that way.


The field of prophecy in the Bible is very rich with divine revelation. The fact the so much of what was forecast has already occurred shows that the Bible can be relied upon, that it is in fact the Word of God. How foolish to set it aside and to ignore it! There is no other source of hope and inspiration in this sick world.

Once again we must ask the question; are you ready for what is coming your way? When the chips are down, where will you stand? These questions must be answered.

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