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Mark 199 - Massive And Magnificent

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Mark 13:1,2[1]

It’s easy to get caught up with the work of our hands.

We went to Italy and spent time in Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples, Pompeii, and Tuscany. I was speechless. And for anyone who knows me, that’s quite an accomplishment all on its own.

The buildings, the paintings, the sculptures, the mosaics. It was an overwhelming feast for the senses. Even though I’ve read and studied the “how” they make these things, I’m just so overwhelmed by the talent, beauty, skill, and execution that I just shake my head in disbelief.

I’m a guy with very limited artistic talent. And that’s the height of an understatement. I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, I can’t paint, cut, sew, or just about any other skill or talent that requires use of your hands.

About the highest level of skill I have with my hands is to butcher meat and cut up vegetables. But I’ve lost count how many times I’ve cut off the tip of a finger while doing this. The tips of three different fingers on my left hand are “flat” because they’ve been sliced off during prep work for a meal.

When I show pictures of how we’ve remodeled out house, people always say, “Did you do all that work yourself?” And I answer truthfully. “Yes” I say with a delayed pause afterwards. “Yes, I did. I personally wrote each and every check to the skilled craftsmen and workers.”

Jesus and his disciples are at the most magnificent building of their time. The Temple in Jerusalem. The walls, the gates, the columns, the hand-woven curtains, the cast metal alter and “bath” for cleaning before and after sacrifices.

Remember, they all were from backwater “hick” towns, far away from anything so grand, so magnificent, so worldly. But Jesus wasn’t caught off guard. He wasn’t overly impressed. He wasn’t bowled over with the work of human hands.

He knows the endgame of everything built by people. It will all end up in the rubble pile of history. There will always be something more. Something better. Something bigger. Nothing from this physical life or world is going to last forever.

Do you remember the latest thing? The best technology? The newest phone? The fastest car? The lightest laptop? The most excellent tablet?

What do they all have in common?

They have all been surpassed by something else. Something faster, better, cheaper. There’s nothing in this world that should be called “ultimate” because something will be better at some point in time. Something that’s truly “ultimate” can never be outdone.

How do we look at the things around us? Do we see things as getting better? Or deteriorating? Are things improving or declining?

From Jesus’ standpoint, the world is a temporary stopover on our way to eternity. This gives us a couple of very importing things.

· Perspective – how to look at life, giving us escape from the tyranny of the urgent.

· Patience – we can work hard, but not get all upset because things will always be changing.

And once in eternity, face to face with him for the rest of time, that will be the ultimate. Because, once in the presence of God, there is nowhere else to go. No other mountain to climb.

The rush and impatience of this life can be set aside for God’s viewpoint. God’s never in a hurry. God’s never late. He’s always on time.

We need to learn to live like this. Unplugging from the press to get it done to impress others, or to be proud that it’s accomplished. An old hymn tells us the view of life we should have.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;

Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.

By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;

Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.[2]

The greatest achievement, the highest mountaintop, the supreme accomplishment in this life actually has little to do with this life. It’s to become more and more like Jesus in word, thought, action, and attitude.

Now, that’s a massive and magnificent goal worth shooting for.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Bible references are from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. [2] Take time to be holy, William D. Longstaff, 1882

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