"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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End of the Age
Mark 13:1-8, 24-37 Commentary
by Elisabeth Johnson
Commentary for this text is forthcoming.
Jesus’ teaching in Mark 13 serves to prepare readers and hearers for what lies ahead in the story as well as what lies ahead in the more distant future.
After Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple (Mark 13:2), Peter, James, John, and Andrew inquire, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” (13:3-4) Jesus speaks of many troubling events that will occur before the end, starting with false prophets who will lead many astray. There will be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines, but the end is not yet. “This is but the beginning of the birth pangs,” Jesus says (13:8).
The image of birth pangs is common in apocalyptic literature as a metaphor for speaking of the suffering that will be experienced before the end. It is ultimately a hopeful image, as it expresses a finality and purpose to the pain. The anguish will ultimately give way to new life, to a new creation.
After speaking ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 403: End of the Age
March 29, 2020
Podcast on the Narrative Lectionary readings for Mar. 29, 2020, (End of the Age) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.