Our final reading from the Gospel of Mark for the year (next week – John 18).
Mark 13 is challenging. Filled with references from the Hebrew Bible. If you don’t get those, you will be confused and probably get the meaning wrong.
In our culture ‘apocalyptic’ means ‘catastrophic end of the world.’ Surprise! This is not what the word means in the bible.
In the Hebrew Bible: ‘galah’ is the equivalent word – Gen 9, Noah lay galah (uncovered/naked) in his tent. In Gen 28, Jacob is in a certain place and God appears to him. Looking back, he says God galah (revealed himself) to me (Gen 35).
In the New Testament (Greek): The word ‘kalupto’ means cover/conceal. In Mt 8:24, the disciples were in a boat and the waves are swamping the boat – kalupto (covering) the boat. Jesus says ‘no one lights a lamp only to kalupto (cover) it’ (Luke 8:16)
The true identity of Jesus was hidden to most people who encountered him. He recognised that people needed an apocalypse to recognise him:
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden (kalupto) these things from the wise and learned, and revealed (apokalupto) them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal (apokalupto) him.” Matthew 11:25-27
We are invited to reflect with Jesus as he describes the end of his world. To look back at the last year. What happened? Where do we have gratitude? Sorrow? Regret? Joy?
A wonderful principle was taught to me by my first significant biblical teacher, Professor Marsden at Sydney University. Whenever we young and foolish students wanted to know the answer to some speculative question, he would always reply: “Concerning that which has not been revealed – we must remain silent.” It is indeed wonderful advice for us.