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Birth Pains – Lent Day 34

Friday, March 23

Birth Pains

Jeff Olson

Day 34—Read Mark 13

 

I will never forget, as a young EMT in training, the first time I witnessed a woman giving birth. I couldn’t tell you the mother’s name. But etched in my memory are her cries of pain as she birthed a new, little life into this world. Echoes of the curse our Creator-God long ago proclaimed would be a part of a broken world (Genesis 3:16).

In today’s Scripture reading, Jesus evoked the image of birth pains. He informed His disciples that wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines—such things would mark “the beginning of birth pains,”  signaling the destruction of the great Temple in Jerusalem (Mark 13: 2-8). Only a few decades later, Roman armies rolled into Jerusalem and leveled the very Temple the disciples stood marveling at that day (Mark 13:1).

Jesus uttered His solemn warning about the Temple’s future destruction as part of a much larger warning. As the clock counted down to His destiny with the cross, He again reminded His disciples that life as His follower was going to get worse, in some cases a lot worse, before it got better. Arrests. Beatings. Betrayals. Hated by others—
all awaited His first followers (Mark 13:9-13).

What on earth, and I mean what on this very earth, does this mean for us today?

First, the image of birth pains is also an image of hope. It points to the eventual birth of God’s new creation—to His realm of justice, peace and restoration fully coming to earth as it is in heaven. It signals the coming day when God will permanently lift the curses of Genesis 3 (Revelation 22:3).

Second, the heart of Jesus’ warning still applies to His followers today. Don’t be taken off guard. Until Jesus returns and makes all things new, parts of life will continue to get worse before they get better. There will be moments, seasons of suffering. Some of it is part of giving birth to the new life of God’s creation.

 

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