Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives and taught four of his disciples privately about the coming last days. From our reading of Zechariah, we know there is significance in the image of the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).
There also is significance in the trigger for Jesus’ conversation with his disciples – their being wowed by the impressive temple structure. In Chapter 12, Jesus laid the groundwork for the second half of the book of Mark when he told the Parable of the Tenants. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Mark 12:10-11).
The disciples sparked a conversation about stones. But the wonderful “stones” would be thrown down. Not one stone would be left upon another, Jesus said. And yet something marvelous was about to happen. The vineyard owner’s son would be killed. The rejected stone would become the cornerstone. And the vineyard owner was coming!
Jesus’ conversation with his disciples centers around time – the day and the hour when these things would take place. Jesus told them a lot, but he didn’t answer their question fully. They asked when these things would be (13:4). By the end of the conversation, Jesus said, “no one knows” (13:32).
But the disciples were to be watchful. They were to pay attention. They weren’t to fall asleep. Part of the job of a disciple – that’s you and me – are to keep a lookout for the master of the house, for the vineyard owner.
Stanley Hauerwas said it well, I think: “Disciples are not in the game of prediction. Rather, they are called to be ready and prepared. Disciples, like Noah, are to build an ark even if it is not raining. The name given to that ark is church.”
So what are we doing as we wait? The master of the house has gone on a journey, and he’s given each of his servants their work to do.
A question for your day: What work has Jesus given you to do within his church as we await his return?