Visual Commentary

Mark 13:1-2

Jesus has just completed his cleansing of the temple and his debates with the religious leaders. All of these events took place inside the temple. 

Now Jesus leaves the temple and his disciples echo the nationalistic sentiment of the day. “Look how beautiful and amazing our Temple is!”


The Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. 


Did the author of Mark know the Temple had been destroyed (meaning the Gospel was written after 70), or is Jesus predicting the destruction?

This is a cautionary tale for every generation. It is the human tendency to create something beautiful and then think that the created object is what matters most.

Yes, we are called to create beautiful things. Our creativity is a reflection of the creator of all things and is our part in co-creating a good, just, and beautiful world.

However, the creation is not the end goal.

One of Leonardo DaVinci’s Seven Principles is sfumato. It is an Italian word that means “up in smoke.” At the surface level it was simply a painting technique. At the philosophical level it was a life principle.

DaVinci believed that we should do everything we do like it was the most important thing we could be doing at that moment. Then, at the same time, hold everything we do with open hands, knowing that it will eventually go POOF! up in smoke. Life is full of ambiguity and uncertainty, and that’s OK.

Could this be what Jesus is trying to communicate to us?

Yes, the temple is beautiful. But, eventually POOF! it will go up in smoke.

All that matters is the Kingdom of God, which is the way of love, justice, and mercy in the world.

Mark 13:3-37

Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 13:10, Isaiah 34:4, Joel 2:10, Joel 2:31, Joel 3:15 to name a few.

This is the standard prophetic image for “things are going to get really bad before they ever get better.”

The image of the Son of Man on the clouds come from Daniel 7:9-14. See images below.

Here’s a great Bible Project Video on the Son of Man.


That’s the bottom line of Jesus’ message. The first message is: WAKE UP!! Life is so much more than you think it is. REPENT, change the way you perceive reality. BELIEVE, trust that God is present. Trust that God is with you in ALL things, even the destruction of your precious temple.

Then, STAY AWAKE! Seek to be in tune with who God is and what God is doing in and through this vast and complex universe. Engage in practices that entune you to God’s movement: prayer, meditation, scripture reflection, fasting, community, service, etc.

The first phase of any spiritual journey is to wake up. Sometimes it takes the destruction of our beloved Temple to be the wake up call that sparks a journey into the deeper mystery of God.

Four Phases of Spiritual Formation

The following PowerPoint puts Mark 13 in context with the chapters that come before it and the Daniel 7 reference.


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