Don’t you love those occasions when you’re reading multiple things at the same time and they all coalesce? That’s what happened to me this week, as I was reading the Gospel of Mark and meditating on the Lord’s prayer.
Let’s start with Mark 13:30. Jesus is telling His disciples about the End of the Ages, concluding with “Amen, I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” Now, given that we view this section in light of the Revelation of John and THE end of the world, we tend to read it and scratch our heads and say, “He must have meant something different with ‘generation’ than we do.”
But read on. Verses 32-37 say this:
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Then read on a little more, into chapter 14. After the Passover meal, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the garden to pray. You know the story. What happens?
Jesus is praying, “Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.”
And what are the disciples doing? Sleeping.
I just blogged a couple weeks ago about the miracles that sometimes happen while we’re sleeping, and of course this passage was one I was thinking of. But let’s look at it from a different angle this time, in light of that warning from a mere chapter earlier.
“Keep awake,” Jesus had said in chapter 13, talking about the “end” and the coming of God’s kingdom.
“Keep awake,” Jesus tells them a couple days later in the garden, as He’s praying about his own death.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done,” He taught us to pray.
“Your will be done,” He prays that night in the garden.
Because He knew that this was the coming of God’s kingdom. This was the end of the old world, the old covenant, the old way. And surely that generation did not pass away before they saw it come—the New Kingdom. The New Testament. The New Covenant.
The new creation.
My friends, we’ve probably all heard it said that we’re living in the last days—it’s been said since Jesus’ days, and for good reason. Because He ushered in those last days when He offered Himself up for us on the cross.
But there’s another way of looking at it too. We’re not living in and looking to the end of the world—we’re living in the new one.
Do you know why Christians have worshipped on Sunday since the first days of the Church? Because Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath, fulfilled the old creation when He was killed on Friday and rested on Saturday. Then He did something amazing on the first day of the week—He rose from the dead. He created something new, a new world, a new generation, a new life. A life that has no end. Ancient texts sometimes refer to Sundays as “the Sabbath’s Sabbath.” The Eighth Day. Early Christians didn’t just view it as “the first day” anymore, they viewed it as the day that the old world was completely recreated. And since this new world, this new Kingdom—the Kingdom of God—will have no end, they couldn’t commemorate it on the last day, so they did so on the first.
On the Sabbath, they remembered the old with sobriety and solemnity. On the Eighth Day, they worshipped their risen Savior with joy and jubilation, praising Him for making us ALL a new creation.
I pray the Lord’s Prayer every day, several times. And as I mediate upon the phrase, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” I couldn’t help but view those words in this context this week. When we pray that prayer, we’re praying that the Lord will help us continue that work that Christ already did—continue the work of the cross. Continue the Kingdom He already brought to fruition, continue it through the price He paid with His blood.
Because the will of God is not achieved by twiddling our thumbs. It’s achieved by vigilant prayer—prayer to the point of sweating blood. It’s achieved by sacrifice. It’s achieved by loving others more than we love ourselves, by loving God most of all. And when we love like that, we act like that.
We act like Christ. We give our all for this Kingdom. Knowing that the will of God will make this new creation good.
Thank you so much for this. It makes perfect sense. I’ve always wondered about that passage too. Our pastor just did a series on Revelation and to be honest, I thought maybe I’d find another church for a few weeks, but I stayed and listened and wow – it blew my socks off – in a good way. It was exactly what you were describing in your post. Very encouraging and motivating to not be focusing on the when and how of the “last days”, but to spend our energy on loving and serving others.