Mark 13:1-2: Man looks on the outward appearance…

“As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!’ ‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ‘Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’ ” NIV

Don’t put your trust in anything other than God.

The Jews were proud of their temple, in spite of the fact that it was built by the Herod family to placate them. It was one of the largest and most magnificent buildings in the ancient world. Around it were many colonnades and courtyards and and smaller buildings. The temple area filled one sixth of the city. It’s frontage was covered with gold, and from a distance it shimmered in the bright middle eastern sunshine. It was quite a sight. Some of its stones were thirty feet long and twelve feet wide. It was impressive. There was no doubt about it. It seemed as if this temple could never be destroyed. Yet, forty years later, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A.D.70, they destroyed the temple too. Since that time it has never been rebuilt.  But Jesus had already given His estimate of the temple (11:15-17), and it was different to that of His disciples. ‘’The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’’ (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus had already said what He had to say about the ‘heart’ of the temple. On the inside it was corrupt to the core and doomed to destruction. Its days were numbered. But the disciples were still taken with the ‘outward appearance’. It was like a terminally- diseased person, who somehow still manages to look good because of the clothes they wear and the make-up they apply.

The things in this world that seem so solid; these things we rely on, are actually transient, temporary and insubstantial. They can be destroyed in a moment. On 11th September 2001, I was out on a pastoral visit when the news filtered through of the appalling situation unfolding in New York City. We watched the television with unbelief as the twin towers crumbled to dust, revealing devastating and deadly fragility. My colleague, who was sharing the visit with me, spoke about how he had stood on top of the World Trade Centre and watched planes flying in to a local airport below. In the wake of that day, words from Revelation 18:10 came to mind: ‘’Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’’ I’m not saying what happened was a literal fulfilment, but the twin symbols of western capitalism crumbled so quickly.

That’s how it is with things we value. They can be gone in a moment. That’s the truth.

PRAYER: Oh Lord, how important it is that you should be my only true treasure. Thank you for the lovely things you bless us with, but help us not to make an idol of them. We cannot rely on them, only on you.