The Certainty of Suffering (Mark 13:9-13)
I.) The Certainty of Suffering
We are going to begin this morning by considering two simple promises made by God to Christians. These are not for the unbeliever, but the believer. These are declared by God to those who have turned from their sin and their self-righteous works and trusted in the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. They are promises made for the encouragement of those who have denied themselves, picked up their cross, and followed Him. Those who have lost sight self, embraced suffering for the sake of His name, and submitted to Him as both Lord and Savior. Those who understand the profound truth that “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What does God say to those of us who know this, and believe this, and rest in this? He says in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” He says in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
It is important that we start with these because we are traversing through Jesus’ teaching on the end times. As we have seen thus far, the end times will not be marked by a growing conformity to truth, increasing peace among people, and a cessation of earth’s natural destructive forces. Jesus assures us that the dismal reality of the end of the age is marked with the certainty of spiritual deception, devastating wars among kingdoms and nations, and destruction brought on by natural disasters. These are the beginning of birth pains, which means they will increase in both frequency and intensity as Christ’s coming draws near. As we look further into His teaching we will see that for the Christian, the end times not only holds the inevitability of all these things, but the certainty of suffering for the sake of Christ as well. Jesus says in Mark 13:13, “You will be hated by all on account of My name…”
Again, it is very important we begin with these promises made by God to His people, because peace and prosperity are not guaranteed to us in this life; ridicule and rejection are. It is hard to accept, and it is a truth which is undoubtedly being drowned out by a “Christianity” that calls people to a higher esteem of self rather than a higher esteem of God, but the truth is that suffering for His name sake is part of God’s plan for His people. There are at least three clear purposes for our experiencing such persecution:
1.) It sanctifies us and matures us closer to the image of Christ.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
James 1:2-4 says, “2Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith producesendurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
2.) It brings about the spread of the gospel.
After Stephen was martyred for proclaiming the faith in Acts 7, the Scripture says in Acts 8:1-4, “Now Saul approved of putting Stephen to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles. 2 Some devout men buried Stephen, and mourned loudly for him. 3 But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and he would drag away men and women and put them in prison.4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went through places preaching the word.”
3.) It sterilizes Christ’s church.
Within Jesus’ Parable of the Soil, He teaches that non-believers who profess Christ will not tolerate persecution for His name sake. They are likened to seed which falls on rocky soil, which has the appearance of life when it immediately springs up, but quickly dies under the scorching heat of the sun. In Mark 4:16, Jesus interprets this as people, who, “when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.” To fall away means they completely depart from the faith, which proves they were never of the faith. Persecution separates the sheep from the goats, and the tares from the wheat.
Suffering for the sake of Christ is a certainty for the Christian, for “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Paul says in Philippians 1:29, “For you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” J.C. Ryle said, “The servant of Christ must never be surprised if he has to drink of the same cup with His Lord.”
II.) Hatred Towards God
Jesus’ teaching before us today is summed up by what He says in Mark 13:13, “You will be hated by all on account of My name.” Everything He says before this is a description of how such hatred manifests itself toward the believer.
Before we flesh that out though, we need to acknowledge why the believer will be hated by the world. The answer is simple; the non-believers of the world hate the one and only and true and Living God! This is not only true for people openly opposed to God; it is true even for the ones who appear to be seeking God, and those who are indifferent to Him.
It is very easy to expose whether or not a supposed seeker is in search of the One, True and Living God; and it is very simple to reveal that one’s supposed indifference towards God is all but a façade. How do you do it? Give them God as He has revealed Himself in His Word. Teach them the truth of His character, nature, and will. Stress His being the all-powerful, all-knowing, forever present Creator who is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” Teach them that He is a holy God of love, and teach also that He is a holy God of righteousness, justice, wrath, and hatred for both sin and sinners.
It is God’s character, nature, and will which necessitates mans need for the message of the gospel. The good news of God demonstrating His love towards us, His helpless, ungodly, and sinful enemies by reconciling us to Himself through the blood of His Son, who willingly become a man to bear our sin on His body and satisfy God’s just wrath towards us. Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” In 2 Corinthians 5:19, he declares that, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.”
Why does the world reject so great a salvation, and hate the One who offers it? Jesus answers this for us in John 3:19-20, “men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” We must be reminded that the One, True and Living “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” When the God of unapproachable light is revealed, mankind is exposed for who they truly are and what they truly love; sinners enamored with darkness. They, therefore, hate God!
In John 7:7, Jesus says to His brothers who have not yet believed, “The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” Jesus Christ, the Word in the flesh, the Light of the World, is hated by the world for shining the light of His Word in their darkened hearts. It is therefore no surprise in Mark 13:13 when He tells His disciples who are to carry His Word to all people, “You will be hated by all on account of My name.” This is not the first time He has told them this, nor is it the last time. The first time is in Matthew 10:22 when He says, “22 And you will be hated by all because of My name.” He will say it again to them in John 15:18 after His Olivet Discourse, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” He explains why they hate Him in verses 22-24, “22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.”
The world hates us because the world hates God, and we are of God. Jesus, praying for His people, says in John 17:14, “I have given them Thy word…” Ask yourself, what happens when a Christian has the Word of God? They are not only going to teach that which the world hates, but they will gradually going conform to the One whom the world abhors, Jesus Christ; the Word in the Flesh, the Light of the World, the radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of His nature. The Puritans did not call themselves that. The world did, because it could not tolerate a people who lived according to the principle, All of Life to the Glory of God. The Puritans sought to achieve this through clear teaching and conformity to the Word of Christ. Jesus says in John 17:14, “I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” What did the world do with Jesus? It delivered Him over to the chief priests and scribes, who condemned Him to death and delivered Him to the gentiles to be mocked, spat upon, scourged, and killed. Jesus says to His disciples in John 16:20, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well.” Remember what Paul says in Philippians 1:29, “For you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” 1 Peter 2:21-25 says:
“21 For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps, 22 He who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being abusively insulted, He did not insult in return; while suffering, He did not threaten, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
III.) A Slave is not Great Than its Master
A slave is not great than its master. How the world treated Christ is how the world will treat His followers. In Mark 13:9-13, Jesus is telling His followers what to expect in the end times. In verse 9, He says to them, “Be on your guard.” The Greek word used here is the same one used when He commanded them in verse 5 to “See to it” that no one misled them. He is telling them to be discerning and to be ready, because just as He was betrayed into the hands of godless men, they too will be delivered into their hands. Jesus’ words to them are that they will be flogged, arrested, and killed. He very plainly says to them in Matthew 24:9, “they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” Jesus tells them in John 16:2-3, “2 They will ban you from the synagogue, yet an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering a service to God. 3 These things they will do because they have not known the Father nor Me.” In John 21:18-19, Jesus even tells Peter how he will personally glorify God, “18 Truly, truly I tell you, when you were younger, you used to put on your belt and walk wherever you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will put your belt on you, and bring you where you do not want to go.” 19 Now He said this, indicating by what kind of death he would glorify God.”
Jesus says in Mark 13:9-11, “9 But be on your guard; for they will hand you over to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.11And when they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you at that time; for you are not the ones speaking, but it is the Holy Spirit.”
Let us break this down a bit. To be handed over to the courts and flogged in the synagogues means they will be condemned by the Sanhedrin. Just as Jesus was rejected by unbelieving Israel, so will they. He also tells them that they will stand before governors and kings for the sake of His name. This means that not only will they face persecution from unbelieving Jews, but gentiles as well. They will be rejected and hated by everyone for the sake of Christ, and through their suffering they will be a testimony of Christ to them. The persecution of God’s people will be a means through which the gospel is preached to all nations. Persecution will not hinder the gospel they are to be witnesses of; it will propel it. Hell will not be able to prevail against Christ’s church.
He is speaking to untrained and uneducated men here, and He encourages them not to be anxious about this because the Holy Spirit, the Helper will be with them. Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in John 14:16-17, “16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; 17 the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.” In John 15:26-27, He tells them, “26 When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, namely, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you are testifying as well, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” He tells them in John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” Jesus is encouraging them to not fear in the face of suffering for the Spirit will guide them in all truth.
Both the suffering for the sake of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is seen throughout the entirety of the book of Acts. The portion that most likely comes to our minds is Acts 4 and 5 where Peter and John have been arrested for preaching Christ crucified and risen again. They are put on trial before the Sanhedrin, and the Holy Spirit guides Peter to proclaim to them the truth of Christ. They are threatened to no longer speak of Christ, to which Peter replies in Acts 4:19-20, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, make your own judgment; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” The Sanhedrin releases them, but only after further threatening’s. What is the disciple’s prayer to God after being released? Acts 4:29 tells us, “29 And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant it to Your bond-servants to speak Your word with all confidence.” Acts 4:31 says, “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”
When we get to Acts 5 we see they are again imprisoned by the religious leaders for teaching Christ, only to be released by an angel who commands them in Acts 5:20 to, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple area the whole message of this Life.” In other words, “Go and do that which brought about your suffering.” The disciples do it, and are again seized by the Sanhedrin who say in Acts 5:28, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us.” What does Peter do under the guidance of the Spirit, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31 He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:40 tells us what the Sanhedrin eventually decided to do with the disciples, “they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.” Acts 5:41 tells us how the disciples responded, “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”
The events Jesus presents in this portion of His discourse certainly can be seen in the life of the disciples, but church history, modern events, and personal experiences demonstrate His words did not find their complete fulfillment in the life time of the disciples. Suffering was a certainty for them, and it is a certainty for us. Jesus reveals the tragic reality that the greatest agent of betrayal and suffering will be family members. He says in Mark 13:12, “And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.”
Persecution and suffering for the sake of Christ will become even more intense during the time of the tribulation period. Revelation 6:9-11 says:
“9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, OLord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who live on the earth?” 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was completed also.”
Revelation 7:9-10 says:
“9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all the tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”
Revelation 7:14-17 says this about the multitude which no one could count:
“14 …These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in Histemple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 They will no longer hunger nor thirst, nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any scorching heat;17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
IV.) Endurance Evidences Salvation
Jesus says in Mark 13:13, “You will be hated by everyone because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” To endure to the end means to abide with Christ; to remain with Him in the faith. To not endure is not a moment of weakness, such as Peter’s denial of Christ, which was a denial with the lips, but not with the totality of his heart and mind. Had it been an utter rejection we would not read of how Peter, after denying His Lord who he knew possessed the words of eternal life, “went out and wept bitterly.” Peter’s denial of Christ produced grief. Someone who does not endure with Christ does not experience such anguish, because to not endure is a complete and utter repudiation of the faith. It is renouncing Christ for Who He is and what He has done. It is completely rejecting the truth of Christ when persecutions and sufferings arise for the sake of His name. People who do this are like seeds which are planted in shallow ground. They have the appearance of genuine life by immediately sprouting up because of the lack soil. They, however, immediately die when the sun arises and scorches them, because they had no root. The word of Christ does not take root in their shallow hearts, and their falling away under persecution proves they only professed Christ, but never possessed His life.
Jesus says, “It is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” Endurance under persecution does not earn one’s salvation; it evidences it. The Holy Spirit gives His people the supernatural ability to endure under the most intense forms of suffering. Foxes Book of Martyrs contains thousands of accounts of Christians through the ages who boldly stood in the face of suffering. Again, endurance under persecution does not earn one’s salvation; it evidences it.
V.) Content with God
Matthew 5:10-12 says,
“10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Suffering is a certainty for us who live for Christ, and we should therefor rest in the truth that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. Jesus says in Matthew 10:28-39 says:
“28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.29 Are two sparrows not sold for an a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all counted.31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than a great number of sparrows.32 Therefore, everyone who confesses Me before people, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.33 But whoever denies Me before people, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.35 For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;36 and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.37 The one who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 And the one who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.39 The one who has found his life will lose it, and the one who has lost his life on My account will find it.
In light of the certainty of suffering we should find contentment in God, understanding that He:
“28 …causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?36 Just as it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We were regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us even to the end of the age.
 Mark 8:34
 Philippians 1:21
 The author of Hebrews is quoting Deuteronomy 31:6,8
 Mark 13:5-8
 Romans 5:3-5
 2 Timothy 3:12
 Exodus 34:6-7
 1 John 1:5
 Mark 10:33-34
 Acts 4:1-3
 Luke 22:62