“There will not be left here one stone upon another.” (Mark 13:2)
The Roman army destroyed Jerusalem in the year 70. According to a contemporary account, more than a million people died during the conflict. Tens of thousands were enslaved. Jesus seems to predict this disaster in the gospels.
He also predicts wars and other catastrophes. These events, he says, will culminate in the coming of the Son of Man in power.
When the Roman army came, it established order through massive violence and destruction. When the Son of Man comes, he will establish peace through the power of peace.
The power of peace is not magical. It is the same power that holds the world together even now. Every healthy, enduring community exists by virtue of this power.
Until this power comes in force, violence remains a temporary necessity (Mark 13:7).
The world, with all it beauty and promise, is not now a safe place. Disasters will happen. Jesus is clear about this.
He is equally clear that his followers are not to participate in the violence of this world (Matthew 24:48-51). We are accountable before God for any violence we participate in.
These disasters are birth pangs. They don’t reflect the ultimate nature of existence. They are part of a process that needs to unfold before the true nature of existence can be revealed.
When we see injustice and violence, Jesus wants us to remember that a Kingdom of peace and justice is coming. And he wants us to prepare for it.
A follower of Jesus is not surprised when the world disintegrates in violence. Jesus warned us it would. But we look forward to the day it is put back together the way it was meant to be.
And while we look forward, we place our hope not in the future, but in the God who is eternally present.