April 8, 2011

Saturday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Day Twenty-eight


Lectionary

Morning - Psalms 108:1-6 & 112, Exodus 2:1-22, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Evening - Psalm 118, Jeremiah 17:5-14, Mark 13:24

Mark 13:24

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.  And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.


Commentary

This passage continues our Lord's discourse regarding the coming tribulation of Jerusalem.  To understand the meaning of the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars, we must look back to the Old Testament.  In Genesis 37:9 the sun, moon, and eleven stars represent Joseph and his family.  In Ezekiel 32:7 the celestial bodies go dark at the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  This is symbolic language, equivalent to saying the sun smiles or the clouds weep. The point in Mark 13 is not that the stars literally fall from the sky or that the sun and moon will literally go dark.  As in Genesis they represent people, but here they are not bowing, they are going dark and falling; they are dying. As in Ezekiel they represent death and destruction in Jerusalem.

Devotional

As we read the New Testament's words against the religious leaders of Christ's time, we may forget that we also deserve to suffer the consequences of our sins.  The collect for the Fourth Sunday of Lent forcefully reminds us that we are sinners whose only hope is the grace of God in Christ.

"Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen."