It is difficult to read this passage outside of the context in which it was written. Traditionally regarded as the scribe of Peter, the Gospel of Mark is written during the time of Nero and the destruction of the Temple. It was during this time that Rome had four different emperors ending with Vespasian who led the campaign against the Jewish people. The question by Jesus' disciples about the destruction of the Temple is very much on the mind of the early church during this time of political upheaval. Along with predicting that these events must occur, Jesus promises that none of his sheep will be lost. These sheep, however, must look for the signs and be ready for Jesus' return. Even though he says "this generation will not pass away" but rather will be gathered from the four winds, Jesus says that even the Son does not know the day or hour (see Jewish wedding custom). Over time, the gospel message has been transformed from that original audience trying to explain the difficult times to the need of every generation to be anxiously awaiting Jesus return whenever that may happen.
Mark 13:33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.
Is it hard to be as excited about Christmas as you were as a child?
How do you hear the message in fresh and new ways?
After nearly 2000 years, has the church fallen asleep waiting?
What will you do this year to awaken your faith and anticipation?