As we come to the end of Mark chapter 13, how clued up are we about the Second Coming? There seems no doubt that He is coming. Not only does this the earliest gospel teach it quite plainly in this chapter, but the saying 'Maranatha' (Oh Lord, come!) became a greeting in the early church.
We also know that Jesus himself did not know when he would return (v 23). He accepted the restrictions of the human form at His incarnation, one of which is not being able to know the future. There were some things that had to happen first, though. Wars and rumours of wars, earthquakes, false prophets and the total destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. These things would be fulfilled within one generation (v30). And so they were. By AD70 the time was ripe for the Lord's return; everything that was needful had been.
But that was nearly 2000 years ago; how can it be said to be near?
This is a concept that needs to be clearly understood. It doesn't mean the same as soon. It means imminent; it could happen at any time. The idea of soon is in opposition to the idea that no-one knows the time. It means that nothing is preventing it. There is nothing that has to happen first. Like a seabird skimming over the surface of the water, at any moment it could dip below the surface and take a fish. It is always close, but no-one knows when it will dive.
How do we know he hasn't already come?
Because it will make a real splash when He does come v24-26. As Paul says it will happen with "a loud command, with the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet call of God." (I Thess 4 16) It will not be a hole in the corner affair.
What is the take home message?
We ought to be ready now. Are you thinking that you would like to be a Christian but not yet; you are too busy enjoying yourself? Don't delay, there may not be a 'later'. Are you a Christian but living a worldly life? Why risk all for those things that will perish? Money will be no use to you in Heaven. There are no pockets in a shroud. Even if the Second Coming is after your death, you don't know how many days you have left. Forgive me if this offends you but this Tuesday is 9/11. I imagine that the thousands who died that day were not expecting it. Were they ready? Would you be?
Jesus tells several parables about the unprepared. "If he comes suddenly, do not him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!"