The Things Jesus Knew, Part VIII
Gospel of Mark February 27, 2000
Scripture: 2Thes. 1:3-12
This morning's message will be our last category in our present topic series on "The Things Jesus Knew." In a way, this category of Jesus' knowledge of future events is a catch-all category that could not be separated out elsewhere. But there is a progression to it. And in a sense, everything that can be said about Jesus' omniscience is his knowledge of future events.
What we will see today is that some of us will fail as Jesus' disciples. In fact, all of us will fail in some way at some time. But Jesus knows this and still chooses us. And he chooses us to receive present and future blessings even to the gathering of the elect. But this will not be before times of great distress at the end of the age which extends from his first coming to his second coming. In order to comfort and strengthen us (as we are prone to weakness even as his disciples) he has told us of events near and far. What happens in the world is not outside his knowledge or his grasp. And he gives us the key event in the whole scheme of his future restoration plan, the re-establishment of Israel. Finally, what the whole world will see visibly is his (second) coming in great glory. But the glory of the cross must come first.
VIII. Knowledge of Future Events
A. Failings of Disciples
1. Jesus Predicts the Falling Away of all the Disciples (14:27)
It was just after the Lord's last supper, the Passover meal, where Jesus instituted the ordinance of communion as a visual outworking of the next day's events on the cross. They had gone out to the Mount of Olives and Jesus began to teach the disciples further about the events of that next day. Jesus knew what it would hold not only for himself, but for his disciples as well. He told them they would all fall away. Judas had already done so. For the rest it would come that very night after his arrest (14:50). The falling away of Judas would be a permanent fatality, but for the rest it would only be temporary. We see this in Jesus' statement that he would meet them in Galilee after his resurrection (14:28).
The backdrop of Jesus' quotation of Zech. 13:7, that the shepherd would be stricken and the sheep scattered, shows the inherent weakness of God's people against the overwhelming power of God's grace that he would reveal himself to them anyway. It shows our need of a Shepherd. Jesus knows our weaknesses and failings against which he is our perfect provision. He knows those who are his regardless of whether they are always aware of it. If it is argued he knew about the scattering of his disciples from Scripture, then he knew the Scripture would be fulfilled. How many Scriptures of the fulfilling of God's grace does he know will be fulfilled in our lives? All of them? (i.e. Titus 3:5)
2. Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial (14:29-31)
Once again, Peter takes exception to the words of Jesus (S. 8:32-33). He considers himself exempt from the failing that Jesus just predicted – that all the disciples would fall away. His overconfidence is once again a foot in his mouth. If Jesus says we will temporarily fail, then we will do just that. Must we be so perfectly self-sufficient that we cannot accept failure even when Jesus knows about it and tells us?
Jesus goes on to tell Peter even more of the details. Tonight before the rooster crows twice in the morning, he would disown him three times (14:72). And Peter still denies his coming accusation. He is in denial of his denial. Do we know ourselves better than Jesus, our Creator and our God? He knows the details of all our sins – past, present, and future. And yet he still loves us.
B. Blessings for Believers
1. Present and Future Blessings (10:29-31)
Disciples may temporarily fall away, but as believers they will be rewarded. Peter comments for the disciples on Jesus' handling of the rich young man that they, as opposed to the rich young man, have left everything to follow him. So Jesus comforts them with the truth that those who have left home, family, and livelihood to follow him and minister the gospel will receive many more times (100 times) as much of the same in the present. And in the future will be added eternal life. But there is another gift that Jesus mentions for the present. It is persecution.
The multiplication of home, family and livelihood come with the church as we serve Jesus in it. We have a new home, a new family, and a new provision much richer than anything we have known before. This will never end and will only continue to increase with the blessings of eternal life. But what about persecutions? These too are gifts that draw believers together in our common experience of these other blessings. Persecution is a cement that bonds us together as believers and one very powerful thing that confirms us as believers. But Jesus goes on to remind the disciples that a proud attitude in sacrificial accomplishments is not befitting of them as believers. It is persecutions that enforce humility and transform that proud attitude.
So Jesus knows that our sacrificial gifts will be multiplied even in this life, and he knows the degree of rewards that the faithful will receive in heaven. And he knows how to transform our attitudes in order to properly receive them. (1Cor. 15:45-49)
2. The Gathering of the Elect (13:26-27)
As Jesus was teaching his disciples about future events during his passion week in Jerusalem, one of the things Jesus mentions concerning future blessings for believers is the gathering together of all his elect at his Second Coming. They will be brought back together no matter where they are in the universe. Certainly this grand reunion in his name and by his hand at the administration of his earthly rule pictures the greatly extended family of which he spoke in 10:29-31. We have not only a new family but a new home in his glorious kingdom as well as our livelihood in helping him to administer it. And the greatest blessing of all is to serve Christ forever. As much as we have seen of his omniscience, especially his own eternal life having been raised from the dead, we can also believe this that he has told us about our eternal life.
C. Transitional Distress
1. Signs of the End of the Age (13:2-25)
Now this discourse that Jesus was telling his disciples about future events contains much more than his closing statement about the gathering together of the elect. It is a long string of prophecy, some of which has already come true, some ongoing, and some of which shall yet come true. The credibility of what has come true testifies to the validity of what is yet to occur. Here the omniscience of Jesus is displayed on grand scale. Further credibility is shown by what Jesus says he doesn't know. He does not know the day or hour of his return, just the season (13:32). This must be left to God the Father.
a. Events Past: The Destruction of the Temple (13:2)
Jesus accurately predicted the destruction of the temple. But it happened years later in 70 AD at the hand of the Romans. The Jews were then dispersed over the face of the earth, losing their Promised Land – for awhile.
b. Events Ongoing: Deception, War, Natural Disaster, Persecution, Betrayal (13:3-13)
Certain troublesome events will be ongoing until Jesus' return due to the nature of the world in which we live. Some troublesome events for believers, like deception, persecution, and betrayal, will come because of their belief in Jesus. Certainly 13:9 was spoken with the disciples in mind, but all other generations can identify with it as well. These events will certainly increase in intensity (13:8 "These are the beginning of birth pains.") as the return of Jesus draws close. "But he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
c. Events Future: The Abomination, the Flight, and the Final Shaking (13:14-25)
The future events that Jesus speaks of here involve the travail of Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation when she will finally submit to the Messiah. It is this event that finally ushers in the beginning of the Millennium at his Second Coming. And Gentile believers, the Church, will come with him.
D. Restoration of Israel
1. The Fig Tree in Leaf (13:28-30)
Now Jesus gives one more sign that all generations are to "watch". The prophecy in 13:2 foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. We know from history that the Jews were then dispersed. So before the future events immediately preceding this can take place, Israel must be re-gathered. Here also history is on the side of Jesus because it happened in June, 1948. Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion also in 11:12-14 and 11:20-21 where he implied a comparison of Israel with a fig tree that he had cursed. This passage promises a reversal of that curse. The seeming mountain of impossibility in prayer that stubborn, stiff-necked Israel would finally accept the Messiah would finally be answered (11:22-25). Our watchfulness should increase when we see that fig tree once again in leaf – or Israel restored once again to the Promised Land. And this time she will bear the fruit of summer. It will once again be the season for figs.
E. The Power and Glory of His Eternal Reign
1. His Coming in Glory (8:38)
Although this verse implies the coming judgement of Christ for any and all who deny him, it also speaks of his coming in his Father's glory with the holy angels. Jesus never forgot his heavenly origin and his rightful place at the throne of God. And he knew of the time when his throne as the Son of God would come to earth to rule it as his rightful inheritance. And all who wanted no part of him in faith will have no part of him in fact.
2. His Visible Coming (13:26)
Not only does Jesus claim to come in future glory, but he says that his coming will be highly visible in the clouds with great power and glory. This will not be a localized event like the first triumphal entry, it will be a world-shattering event for all to see. This coming will be of the crucified One, immortal and invincible, impeccable and indestructible. And his rule will never end.
3. Before the Sanhedrin (14:62)
Jesus responds to the "are you" question of the high priest with "I am," affirming that he is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One which is God. And Jesus says he will come again on the clouds of heaven as the eschatalogical Judge who sits at the right hand of the Mighty One. Yes, Jesus knew who he was and the power and glory that are eternally his. And there will be no power on earth but his. I wonder from what vantage point, or should I say disadvantage point, the high priest will observe this? (Rev. 1:7)
Verses on the omniscience of God:
"The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the LORD, do not spare us this day. (Joshua 22:22 NIVUS)
"Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed. (1 Samuel 2:3 NIVUS)
but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. (Psalms 37:13 NIVUS)
would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? (Psalms 44:21 NIVUS)
The LORD knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. (Psalms 94:11 NIVUS)
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalms 103:14 NIVUS)
Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. (Psalms 138:6 NIVUS)
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8 NIVUS)
He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight. (Luke 16:15 NIVUS)
God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. (Acts 15:8 NIVUS)
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8:27 NIVUS)
and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." (1 Corinthians 3:20 NIVUS)
Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." (2 Timothy 2:19 NIVUS)
if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. (2 Peter 2:9 NIVUS)
whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20 NIVUS)
Each synoptic gospel author has applied the use of omniscient statements and events by Jesus to suit the particular purpose for which his gospel was written. Mark used the omniscience of Jesus to reassure us of Jesus' power. Jesus wanted to teach his disciples in all Ages that he is the Christ and to give them reinforced hope by seeing that what he says comes true. Matthew uses the omniscience of Jesus to reassure us of Jesus' kingdom. Jesus wanted to show us the very real existence of the kingdom of heaven and the dire necessity of preparing for it in light of coming judgment. Luke uses the omniscience of Jesus to reassure us of Jesus' salvation. The general intent of his gospel to proclaim the certainty of salvation history to a wide audience of social outcasts because Jesus came in fulfillment of Scripture to seek and to save the lost (19:10).
But there is also much overlap of common themes and events. The things that Jesus said and did regarding these truths lend absolute credibility to their reality. Because Jesus said what he said and did what he did, he is who he said he was and will do what he said he would do. He is God because he has proven that he has knowledge that no one else has. And as much as history has allowed it to be proven true, his knowledge has proven true. And history is not over. He is history because he already wrote it.
If knowledge is power and omniscience is the most profound evidence of knowledge, then God's exclusive possession of omniscience is exclusive possession of power. His omnipotence and omniscience are inseparable. The future is in his hands because the future is in his mind. Praise the Name of our God, Jesus Christ, the omniscient One! He can be trusted because he knows what cannot be known and sees what cannot be seen. Even though he came as one of us he stands above us as his own omniscient testimony. He can never be "undone" or "outdone" by any of us because ---
He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (John 2:25 NIVUS)