Friday, March 13, 2015

God of Place and Time

Today's Reading: Deuteronomy 19-21 and Mark 13:21-37

Our Old Testament passage today talks about cities of refuge. Have you ever thought about the ways that cities are meant to be involved in ministry? Consider this sermon (it's the full thing so I'm not offended if you skip it for the sake of keeping on the reading plan) by Tim Keller:

Tim Keller Feb'09: The City from Newfrontiers on Vimeo.

Our New Testament passage contains a really tricky verse, Mark 13:30. Arguably this is one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to understand. In it, Jesus shares, "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."

C.S. Lewis (who wrote the Narnia series) said of this verse, "It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement 'But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.'"

The following quote is from N.T. Wright: "Our interpretation of this section depends entirely upon the arguments advanced in chapter 10 of NTPG. Summarizing the results reached there, we can say: the ‘coming of the son of man’ does not refer to the ‘parousia’ in the modern scholarly, and popular, sense of a human figure travelling downwards towards the earth on actual clouds. Nor does the phrase ‘son of man’ of itself refer to a ‘superhuman’ figure. Nothing in Daniel, in the rereadings of Daniel in the first century, or in the teaching of Jesus as we have studied it, pushes the reading of Mark 13:26 in that direction. We have already commented on the meaning of the darkening of sun, moon and stars. It is crass literalism, in view of the many prophetic passages in which this language denotes socio-political and military catastrophe, to insist that this time the words must refer to the physical collapse of the space-time world. This is simply the way regular Jewish imagery is able to refer to major sociopolitical events and bring out their full significance."

Basically N.T. Wright thinks that the events Jesus is talking about actually did come to pass in the lifetimes of his hearers, in the form of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Other theologians have different thoughts on this verse, but what do you think? What is your understanding of what Jesus is saying here?

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