Jesus' Apocalyptic Talk: An Invitation to Hope and Pay Attention

Beth Demme Blog 1 Comment

Apocalypse and Hope. Do they seem like opposites? I have always thought of them that way—in opposition to each other.

It turns out … I’ve been wrong.

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus describes a time when everything will change. The temple, the center of religious life and a place described as “the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:1), is going to come down (Mark 13:1-2). Jesus says there will be wars, famine, earthquakes, and more (Mark 13:7-8).

Yep, that all sounds bad. That sounds like the opposite of Hope.

And yet, Jesus says “the end is still to come.” It’s tempting to read that to mean more bad stuff, and only bad stuff, is coming, but Jesus says “This is but the beginning of the birth pangs” (Mark 13:8).

Birth pangs? I don’t remember being born, but I imagine it was quite an experience. Maybe it even felt like an ending when really it was the beginning of something I’ve truly enjoyed—my life!

Sometimes a situation seems bad because our human perspective is limited.

I have to admit, my human perspective is pretty tiny when compared with a God-sized perspective. That, in itself, is a reason to hope:

There is a big God and it’s not me.

Jesus says there is more to come, meaning there is more GOOD to come and more GOD to come. Apocalyptic messages are meant to bring hope. They point to the fact that God is still at work and life is continuing to unfold.

This reminds me of a lesson I’ve learned from my kids and our home movies.

When my son and my daughter want me to stop taking video, they smile sweetly (overly so) and say “More to Come!” That’s my cue to put the iPhone down and start paying attention with my own eyes—to pay attention to the developing story.

In a way, I think this is what Jesus is saying when he gives his disciples an apocalyptic message.

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “pay attention to the developing story. The developing story of you and God.”

I need to do that. I need to pay attention to the developing story of God in my life. The story that God is using me to write. The story that God is writing in me and through me.

By paying attention to the developing story, I can tap into the hope of a God-sized perspective, no matter how apocalyptic things seem.

What do you think? Do the concepts of apocalypse and hope seem antithetical to you? Does thinking of “more to come” give you a different perspective? Tell me about it in the comments, in an email, or on Facebook.

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