Advent : An opportunity to evangelize
Please read Mark 13: 1-10
Mark chapter 13 is often called the “Olivet Discourse” as Jesus taught this to his very close disciples at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. During his last week in Jerusalem, Jesus appears to have spent most of his time in and around the Temple…teaching, preaching, observing, and praying for the peace of Jerusalem. His disciples called Jesus’ attention to the grandiose Temple building which indeed was magnificent in those days. To this Jesus responded with a startling prophecy that the Temple will be completely destroyed (this was fulfilled in AD 70 under Roman warrior and future emperor Titus). Jesus’ statement led the disciples to ask of Jesus as to when this would happen and what would be the signs before it’s fulfilled. The Olivet discourse is Jesus’ response to this query.
What pops out to me is Jesus’ statement in Mark 13: 10: “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” The parallel passage in Matthew 24:14 puts it even more emphatically: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Like Jesus’ disciples, we too could have a misplaced concern about the Second Advent, the return of Jesus Christ and preoccupation with the signs and times of his coming. The disciples wanted to know the time and the signs. And down through the centuries, some followers of Jesus have indulged in speculating the exact dates for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus rebukes this tendency by calling their attention to the mission for which he had come to this earth, i.e., the proclamation of the good of news of the Kingdom of God. To counter this tendency, Jesus categorically told the disciples that before the end comes, the church’s mission should be the evangelization of the world — taking the gospel to all people groups everywhere. What he meant by it is that the time between his ascension and his return as the ruling King is not simply a time of suffering and persecution of the church but also an opportunity to share the grace of God and proclaim the good news throughout the earth to fulfill the prophecy of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 49:6:
“It is too small a thing for you
to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Therefore, as followers of Christ, let’s spend our time, energy, and resources wisely with the sole aim of fulfilling the command of our Lord Jesus Christ that the gospel of the Kingdom is preached on earth and, then, the end will come and not before that!
Amen. Come Lord Jesus!