Chapter Thirteen of Mark’s Gospel contains the longest speech on a single topic in the whole of the text. In what some call the “Markan Apocalypse,” Jesus offers a glimpse of what’s in store for his followers in the future. In the tradition of ancient apocalyptic writing, the passage ‘elasticates’ time – giving descriptions of persecution and suffering that may well have been already happening to the Christian communities to whom Mark is likely to have been writing – as well as seeming to predict events in the more distant future. But the timeline snaps back – ending firmly in the present, as Jesus explains that not even he knows when these things will come to pass – so we must all “keep awake”; the last words he speaks before his passion and death.

Listen to this week’s Start:Stop reflection at the link above, or read the script here.

Image : Apocalyptic City, Ludwig Meidner, 1913