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Essential Teachers notes:
This is such a gloomy passage and it may seem like one you’d prefer to skip but it’s a passage that covers one of the central themes to Jesus’s ministry – making God your foundation. While the parable of the wise and foolish builder may be more visually friendly, the prediction about the fall of the temple reminds children that no matter how huge and real and solid something is, God is always bigger. In a world where the unthinkable happens, where violence seems to win, where nature destroys and empires fall this passage offers comfort.
Tell this story or a similar one of your choice from a favourite bible translation or story book. This version is supplied for inspiration, feel free to omit or embellish to give it your personal voice.
Main Passage : Mark 13:1-8
Jesus and his followers left the temple. As they walked away, one of his friends looked back and stopped Jesus to ask him about it.
The temple was really impressive. They had built huge walls around the mountain top–as high as an 8 story building–to support a flat area the size of 30 football pitches. In the middle, the temple was built. It was huge too, made of white stone that was covered with large gold plates reflecting sunlight. Along the top of the temple walls, there were golden triangles so the whole place looked like a giant crown. It was supposed to be a temple for the world, but only the priests could get all the way inside. People came from all over the world to see the biggest place of worship ever built, to marvel at the size of the stones and tall arches, to spread their arms around the tall white columns and glimpse the beautiful coloured stones that made the floor.
One of Jesus’s disciples pointed and said to him, “Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!”
Jesus saw something different though. He replied to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another—all will be thrown down.”
The disciples around him stopped walking, their faces shocked. How could something this huge be destroyed? The crowd carried on walking with sad faces. Behind them, the temple–the pride of their nation–shone brightly.
Later that evening, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Jesus privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen?”
Jesus looked at his friends’ sad faces. They had believed his words, and yet he could not tell them when the Roman army would destroy the temple. But he could warn them that many things would happen–people would come and lead men into foolish places, earthquakes and wars would shake the world, famine and illnesses would visit communities–but that they were not the end of the story. There was no need to trust in huge buildings or shiny gold plates because the kingdom of God was going to change everything.
That’s what Jesus had come to teach them. That’s why he, the king of all Heaven, had been born in a stable, not a palace. That’s why he had wandered, showing them how to love their neighbour, to heal the sick, to welcome everyone. He had been a living temple that didn’t have closed doors only priests could open. That’s why he would let himself die on a cross like a criminal, because even death wouldn’t stop God’s truth. And that’s why he promised to return, because the story wasn’t over yet.