As we recently studied Mark 13 at church, the very first verse of chapter thirteen caught me and stopped me. It talks about how impressed the disciples were with the temple’s stones.
Mark 13:1 ~ “As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!’”
A little history according to Josephus:
- The temple renovation began in 19 BC and was completed in 64 AD.
- The stones were 40 feet long and 20 feet thick. They were white and highly polished.
It’s no surprise the disciples were so impressed with the temple, and its stones.
What impressed the disciples didn’t impress Jesus.
His words in verse two came true in AD 70, six years after the temple’s completion.
Mark 13:2 ~ “’Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ‘Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’”
Jesus viewed that temple with a different perspective than the disciples. While the disciples were impressed with the massive stones and the beautiful architecture, Jesus knew what was coming for Herod’s temple.
What caught me was the whole thought of the things that impress me don’t often impress God.
How many times have I been impressed by man’s accomplishments? Yes, some of them are truly amazing.
The Eiffel Tower—This structure was completed in 1889 for the World’s Fair. It took more than two years to build. The lattice work tower stands over 1,000 feet tall. And the four base pillars line up with the four points of a compass.
The Obelisk of Theodosius—This pink granite monument stands in the center of the Hippodrome in Istanbul. It was brought to Emperor Theodosius from Egypt. Though it was erected in 390 AD, it was carved in the 1400’s BC. The carvings and the sheer size (20 meters tall, originally 28 meters tall) of this obelisk made me feel insignificant, compared to its size and longevity.
There have been times when I’ve been so impressed with someone’s accomplishment. Maybe I’ve been a little envious that they were able to do something amazing. Maybe the sheer beauty of what they’ve built, or what they’ve done, left me in wonder.
When I focus on man’s accomplishments, I miss the bigger picture. I may fail to grasp Jesus’ perspective on the thing.
God isn’t impressed with what man can do. To think He is is to squeeze Him into man’s confines. He’s bigger than Canis Majoris, the largest star in the universe. If you want perspective on how big it is Louie Giglio has a great way of sharing in this video.
God created Canis Majoris. Can you even imagine how big He is? How infinite? How unfathomable?
It’s not wrong to admire what another person has done. It’s not wrong to be impressed by things men have built.
But, let’s not minimize how much bigger God is. He created every star and calls them by name. He runs an entire universe.
He knows every single person who ever has lived or is living, or will ever be born. He knows their hearts, their features, before they are ever brought into this world.
He creates individual petals on the tiniest of flowers. He weaves into the human heart passions, callings, and the capacity to love big.
When we think about what truly impresses us, maybe we shouldn’t stop at being impressed by what men can do. Maybe we should also ponder what God does and has done.
Maybe we should make sure we’re not taking anything He’s done for granted. Especially in the gift of salvation He’s given us.
Acts 15:11—“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
Instead of leaving us condemned under judgment, Jesus’ grace saves us.
Jesus suffered torture, died a beyond-painful death on the cross, and conquered death by rising again.
And why did He do this? Because He loves us. He doesn’t want us to face judgment. So, in His grace, He made a way for us to be set free.
Of all men’s creations, and of all of God’s amazing creations, the gift of salvation is what impresses me most.
What about you? What impresses you most about God? How do you balance the wonder at men’s accomplishments and the reality of God’s gifts to us?