Enduring to the End
“Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (vv. 12–13).- Mark 13:11–13
Christ preached the Olivet Discourse to tell His first-century disciples to be on guard for what awaited them after His ascension (Mark 13:9). Essentially, He wanted them not to be taken unaware by the many trials and tribulations that would occur in the decades leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem. Knowing that specific trials would precede the fall of Jerusalem, however, was not an excuse to try to set dates for that event (vv. 32–37). It was also not a reason to withdraw from the world and wait for the temple and city to be judged, for Jesus’ words assume that believers would continue to bear witness to the world.
These lessons apply to us as well. We have seen that although Jesus’ predictions were ful lled in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, it is also appropriate to see the complex of events Jesus describes in the discourse as a type or foreshadowing of the final judgment of all people and the consummation of our Savior’s kingdom. We do not know all the events and trials that will precede His final, visible return, but we do know that we must be faithful wherever the Lord has placed us as we await His appearance.
In today’s passage, our Savior encourages His disciples not to be anxious about what they will say when they are called before councils, for the Holy Spirit will give them the words to speak (Mark 13:11). Jesus is not encouraging His followers to be lazy, to not study or prepare for the day of trial. Instead, He is calling His people not to be so obsessed and worried about testifying before tribunals that they neglect ordinary, everyday obedience in the little things He has given us to do. John Calvin comments, “Our Lord’s design in these words is, to relieve the disciples from that anxiety which interferes with the cheerful discharge of our duty, when we doubt our inability to sustain the burden.”
Verses 12–13a of today’s passage warn Christians that they will be hated by all people for the sake of His name, with even family members turning against them when the pressure gets intense. This happened again and again in the first century. When professing Christians were arrested during Roman persecutions, they often gave up the names and locations of other believers in their congregations and in their families. In the face of such betrayal, believers were not to lose heart, for remaining faithful to Jesus would mean their salvation even if it brought death in the meantime (v. 13b).
Even today, in many parts of the world, professing Christians betray believers to the governing authorities. We do not know what the future may bring, but we do know that God’s grace will sustain His people. Let us pray that we would never betray another Christian and that we would have the wisdom to rely only on divine grace.
Passages for Further Study
2 Samuel 15
1 Chronicles 12:17