Not one stone will be left

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
— Mark 13:1-2

Either they’re showing their hillbilly colors or they’re coming to terms with the fact that they haven’t got a chance. The disciples are wowed by urban architecture. Or, they are feeling, acutely, Rome’s military might.

When they say, “Look, Teacher, what large stones,” the stones really are noteworthy. Herod didn’t build the thing out of Legos. If it was the southwest corner to which their eyes were fixed, stones measured 40 x 8
 x 4 feet. Take a moment to imagine. Not where you want to be during an earthquake, right?

From “not one stone will be left here (v.2)” to “things are about to be accomplished (v.4)”: This is the leap Peter, James, John, and Andrew make. Jesus says that the stones will be thrown down. They take this to mean that the destruction would be an outcome of their movement—the Jesus movement. 

It is, after all, a sight some folks longed to see. As one group looked to Jesus to emerge as the Messiah, others, beyond his household of faith, wondered if he could be the one to really sock it to Rome. [As is often the case, the occupiers held a higher opinion of their presence than did the occupied.]

In a tragic twist of events, those large stones came down on the people who loved it most. A Roman soldier threw a burning stick and though destroying the Temple was not strategic on the part of Titus, the fire spread quickly, irreversibly. It was August of year 70. The Jews were temple-less again.

For people like Peter, James, John, and Andrew, this region was the world. For the generation that followed, some of whom comprised Mark’s community, the stones falling felt like the end of the world. Remember that much when you read this gospel. Ask: How does one report the good news to people who have seen that Jesus predicted the demolition and yet did not return to rebuild?

Maybe you, Mark, tell them that God in Jesus is rebuilding… a temple made of people…whose prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness birth what will be, after the pangs have passed (v.8).


Rachel May