Mark 13 takes us to two questions. There’s the immediate question from the disciples is simple enough “when will the destruction of the Temple happen?” The second arises out of it and moves beyond one “mini-world-end” to the greater end of the world event when Jesus will return. Jesus addresses this too.
Read Mark 13:24-37
Here we see why Jesus prefers the title “Son of Man to describe himself”, it’s a reference to Daniel 7:13 where Daniel sees someone of human appearance “like a son of man” who approaches “the ancient of days” receive glory and authority. This one approaches the eternal God “with” or “on the clouds” suggesting a heavenly event.
What we are meant to see is that wrapped up in Christ’s ascension (into the clouds) and his return (from the clouds) is his receiving his kingly authority from the Father, just as he describes in parables, people going on journeys to receive kingly titles (and just as Herod had done so from Caesar).
Jesus is therefore, not just “a son of man” but “the son of man”, the new Adam, the one who is both human and divine and so rules over all creation. And Jesus tells us that one day he will return with that authority.
Now, Jesus has described the coming chain of events in history, some of which, particularly including the end of Jerusalem will happen within the lifetime of his first hearers. However, the exact date of his second coming was secret, known only to the Father. It seems that even Jesus in his human nature has constrained his knowledge of such future events.
Even though we cannot know the day or time, we can be sure that these things will happen because Jesus reminds us that unlike the creation, God’s Words are permanent. Unlike an emergency budget statement, his promises are not broken and his plans are not thwarted.
So, then the challenge for us is “Are you ready?” We need to be ready for those challenges and trials, those “mini-world-ends” that we face in our lives. We also need to be ready because we do not know when Jesus will return.
This means that we need to live our lives both as though Christ could return this very day and at the same time ready for the long-haul. We plan and prepare as though we have a full life ahead of us and with the mission in mind of sharing the good news. At the same time, we seek to live godly lives and we share the Gospel with urgency because we do not know how much time we have.