Olivette Discourse: Coming of the Son of Man

May 26, 2024 Download: Audio

Mark 13:24-27

This morning we are in week 3 of our look at the Olivette discourse, which was a conversation that took place between Jesus and some of his disciples on the Mount of Olive just a few days before his death on the cross. It was prompted the Jesus’ statement about the temple: that not one stone would be left on another. The disciples took Jesus aside privately and asked,

Mark 13:4
“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”

In response, Jesus describes several things that would happen, concluding with the statement,

Mark 13:30
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

On the surface, it would seem a pretty straightforward answer. He explains the signs and tells them when—within “this generation.” Last time we discussed the context of “this generation” to discern the best understanding of it. We considered the literary context, noting that Jesus uses this phrase often in the gospels to mean the generation living at the time he was speaking. We considered the audience to whom he is speaking (the disciples). And we considered the redemptive historical context from Hebrews 8-9 and saw we are to expect an end to the temple since Jesus took his blood into the true Holy Place in heaven.

Hebrews 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 9:24
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Thus, the context invites us, I believe, to look for an ordinary reading of “this generation.” And the reason we did that was to know where we should be looking in history. Otherwise, we find ourselves going to this passage every time something frightening happens in the world and ask, “are we seeing the signs of the end?”

Looking at the first century in the years leading up to 70 AD when the temple Jesus was speaking about was in fact destroyed, we can see everything Jesus said would happen, happening. At least we looked through those things listed between verses 3 and 23. We stopped there, because with verse 24 we hit the event that is most questioned: the coming of the Son of Man in clouds of glory. Many conclude that this event didn’t happen at the destruction of the temple.

That leads to one of three conclusions: one, Jesus was wrong and thus a false prophet (higher critics), two, “this generation” must mean something other than “this generation” in the ordinary sense, or three, this generation meant some future generation.

What I want to do this morning is examine this more closely and ask, could it have happened with the generation alive at the time of Christ?