Live Like You Were Dying (Mark 13.1–37)


Several years ago, at the Academy of Country Music Awards, Tim McGraw won song of the year for “Live Like You Were Dying.” The song is about a man who discovers he is dying of cancer. His friend asks him, “How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news? / Man, what’d you do?” The man replies:

I went sky diving

I went Rocky Mountain climbing

I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu

And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter

And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying

And he said someday I hope you get the chance

To live like you were dying.

In other words, knowing that his remaining time on earth was short, the man lived life to the full.

Mark 13.1–37 records Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. New Testament scholars disagree as to whether the prophecy refers to the destruction of Jerusalem that actually occurred in A.D. 70 or to its destruction at some time in our future. Either way, Jesus offers his disciples a preview of the difficult future that lay ahead of them.

That future includes “false Christs” and “false prophets” (vv. 5, 6, 21, 22). It includes “wars and rumors of war” (vv. 7, 8a). Earthquakes, famines, and other natural disasters will multiply (vv. 8b, 24, 25). Christians will be persecuted for their faith (vv. 9–13). And false religion will take prominence over true faith (v. 14). Jesus litany of “signs” is unremittingly negative, full of danger and death.

How should we live? As Christians, we should live life to the full. And while that may include riding a bull named Fu Manchu—life is fun, after all—it also involves seriously pursuing our relationship with God.

The most important thing Jesus tells us to do is “Watch!” Jesus tells a parable about a homeowner who goes on a trip and leaves his servants in charge, but without telling them when he will return. “Therefore keep watch,” Jesus says, “because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (vv. 35–37). Life is short. Death comes quickly. Are we ready to stand in God’s presence?

The Apostles’ Creed tells us that Jesus will “come again to judge the living and the dead.” Jesus himself says the same thing in verses 26 and 27: “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” Are we ready?

As Christians, we should not fear the future. Christ’s second coming is a great and happy event after all. No, we should not fear; but we should prepare.

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2 Comments

  1. George: Please consider this:
    “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9.

    As you know, when John the Baptist first introduced Jesus he warned that generation that the coming of their Messiah would not only bring blessings but also judgment upon the unjust (see Matt 3:1-12). Jesus, himself, taught his audiences that a great and terrible judgment was impending. He indicated that it would happen in their lifetime: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28 (NASB). He further and more specifically elaborated on the coming judgment AND HIS COMING in Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13; again emphasizing that it would happen in their generation.

    On the day of Pentecost Peter warned his audience (men from every nation) that big trouble was on the horizon: Acts 2:36-41. Later Paul in several epistles warned both Jews and Gentiles of a coming conflagration and judgment: Acts 17:29-34; Rom 1:18; Rom 2:5-6; Heb 10:30-31. See 1 Pet 4:17-19 and 1 Jn 2:18-19. Also Jude 3-23. All of these judgment warnings (some spoken in apocalyptic language) began to come into view with the crucifixion of Jesus and led to the destruction of the Jewish nation and worship place (Temple) in 70 A.D. But it didn’t stop there. It spread to the entire known world and continues it’s devastating advance even into our modern times, e.g., constant wars, the Holocaust, the Arab Spring, the 9/11 Twin Towers, the Boston Marathon bombing, etc. It will continue until, at last, all humanity finally gets the message and submits to the righteous rule of the Prince of Peace.

    NOTE: The word “everlasting” in the above scripture is an obvious mistranslation of the original root Greek word “aion” = (an age, not everlasting), as follows:

    Greek NASB Number: 165

    Greek Word: αἰών

    Transliterated Word: aiôn
    Root: from a prim. root appar. mean. continued duration;

    Definition: a space of time, an age:–

    New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

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