Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. What is meant when someone says, “This is the hill I choose to die on”? What is your “hill to die on”? In other words, for what principle or cause would you be willing to stand regardless of the cost?
2. Has anyone ever said to you, “It’s just you and me against the world”? If you could choose just one person with whom to go against the world, who would it be? Why would you choose that person?
Read Mark 13:9-11.
1. Jesus warned his disciples to be on guard (watch out, take heed) of what was to come for them. List the trials Jesus said they would face. Why is it significant that Jesus warned them ahead of time that they would suffer when spreading the gospel?
2. Compare the predictions in these verses to what later happened to these same disciples (Acts 5:17, 18, 27-33). What elements of Jesus’ warnings do you see fulfilled in this account of persecution?
Read Mark 13:12, 13.
3. While some have dysfunctional families, for most us our families are a place of refuge and support. Summarize the content of Mark 13:12; Matthew 10:34-37; Micah 7:5, 6; Luke 12:49-53. Why is this discouraging?
4. If believers will face opposition even in their own families, where can they go for family-type encouragement? See Mark 3:31-35.
Read Mark 13:14-20.
5. The reference to “the abomination that causes desolation” is a reference to Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. This is usually interpreted as a prediction of Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes’s desecration of the temple in the second century before Christ. Jesus is using this as a metaphor for a future destruction of the temple that his disciples would witness. Give some examples of government persecution of the church in history. Why do you think tyrants see the church as a threat?
6. Earlier, Jesus encouraged his disciples to stand despite physical persecution. In these verses, however, he seems to encourage fleeing imminent persecution. How can we know when it is best to suffer persecution or to flee it?
7. Every fall, Christians around the world observe International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Learn more at idop.ca. Though it is months away, begin thinking about how you and your congregation can participate in encouraging those who trust Jesus to stand with them in their suffering.