Stay Awake!

Posted: July 21, 2014 in Mark

Mark 13:24-37, “Stay Awake!”

As an undergraduate student, I was the king of procrastination.  It’s not something I’m proud of, nor recommend, but I was a master of putting projects off until the very last minute & then doing whatever I needed to do in order to cram it all in at the end.  It usually worked (note the “usually”!), though eventually I learned that doing things early generally meant doing them better, with much less stress and uncertainty along the way.

People procrastinate in spiritual matters all the time.  There are some who know without a doubt that they need to surrender their lives to the Lord Jesus in faith, but they keep putting things off.  They believe that there’s always tomorrow – always next year – eventually at some point they’ll get around to it…maybe.  And it’s not just non-Christians.  Some born-again believers put off what they know God wants them to do.  Perhaps it’s a conversation about the Lord with a friend or a co-worker…they think maybe “now” isn’t quite yet the right time, but “now” never seems to come.  Perhaps a general attitude of laziness has set in.  We’ve heard so much about the future coming of the Lord, that we’ve tended to get a little sleepy.  After all, Jesus hasn’t come yet – what’s to say that it’ll be any time soon?

What we need is a wake-up call!  Be it a jolt of spiritual-coffee or a trumpet sounding in our ear, we need to wake up, get alert, & get to work.  Stop procrastinating – stop putting things off…wake up, and stay awake!  One day we WILL find ourselves looking into the eyes of the Lord Jesus.  What are we actively doing in preparation for that day?

That was the message Jesus drove home to the disciples as He closed out the Olivet Discourse.  Remember the context.  After many confrontations in Jerusalem with the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees, and Sadducees, finally Jesus and the disciples left the city for the last time prior to His arrest (which was only days away by this point).  On their way out, the disciples took time to point out the magnificent stonework and construction of the temple, perhaps as a way of reaffirming that God would never allow His temple to be destroyed.  Jesus shocked them with the reply that everything would be torn down.  Not one temple stone would be left upon another (which came true historically barely a generation’s time later in 70AD).

Reeling with the news, four of the disciples approached Jesus later on the Mount of Olives, which overlooked the city.  They asked Him when these things would be (regarding the temple) & what would be the sign that all these things would be fulfilled (in references to Jesus’ 2nd Coming and the end of the age).  Answering, Jesus told them not to panic.  There would be much to come – many wars, disasters, and other trials would come to pass.  Those things were just the beginning of the birth pangs that eventually lead to the end.  There would be much deception and hatred in the meantime, and those were the things for which the disciples needed to be prepared.  The primary sign of the end would be the “abomination of desolation,” an event foreshadowed in Daniel’s prophecy about the Seleucid general Antiochus Epiphanes who desecrated the Jerusalem temple in 167BC.  Jesus told the disciples it was that event occurring in the future that would be the primary sign of the Great Tribulation.  That was the sign to flee Jerusalem (much like Jerusalem would need to be fled at the advance of the Romans), and things would be so awful, that unless God intervened, every human would perish from the earth.

That all begs the question: what next?  What happens that cuts short the Great Tribulation?  Praise the Lord that those days ARE cut short, and that there is a definite end to the time.  But what causes it all?  The glorious Second Coming of the Lord Jesus.  There are terrible trials yet to come (a truth that applies to all believers of every generation), but there was something better yet: the return of the Son of Man.  Will Christians be ready?  Will Christians be watching?  When Jesus comes, will He find faith on the earth?

Mark 13:24–37
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

  1. In those days…”  In WHICH days?  Thankfully, we don’t have to guess – Jesus tells us specifically, “after that tribulation.”  There is a definite timeframe here.  One thing that Jesus will make abundantly clear about His 2nd Coming is that although we cannot know the hour, we can know the general season.  Here, Jesus is teaching when to look for that season.  It will be in the days following the worst parts of the Great Tribulation.  IOW, once it has been determined that the Great Tribulation has begun, THAT is the time to begin looking for these other things.
    1. Of course Jesus was speaking to four of the 12 disciples at this time.  Everything He told them were regarding events in the future.  Be it the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD or the Great Tribulation itself.  Yet from our vantage point, how can we know the difference?  After all, the city and temple were indeed destroyed, exactly as Jesus said it would be.  Simple: we look to Jesus’ own words.  The temple was destroyed, but the destruction of the temple by the Romans can NOT be the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Great Tribulation, as bad as it was.  Why?  It doesn’t fit Jesus’ description.  Not only was the trial limited to Jerusalem (not affecting all of humanity), but none of these heavenly signs took place. 
  2. Not only are there specific days, there are specific signs.  The sun and moon are “darkened,” “the stars of heaven will fall,” and unnamed “powers” are shaken.  Note: these are not signs that are limited to the physical land of Israel.  As with the death toll ranging across humanity, so are these signs.  Cloud cover may keep a specific area of land dark for a time, but there is no way that a star could fall to the earth & not have the entire earth know what happened!  These signs are so massive and incredible, that some have doubted whether or not Jesus is teaching anything literal, or if He is rather using symbolic language to teach about the apocalypse.  After all, stars are gaseous giants several magnitudes larger than planet earth – the earth would be completely swallowed up if a star “fell” into it.  But keep in mind that a “star” does not have to only refer to a ball of burning gas.  Even in English, we call meteors “shooting stars” and certain planets “morning and evening stars.”  The ancients used the term the same way.  ANY body that shone in the heaven could be referred to as a “star,” so Jesus could easily be referring to a meteor, asteroid, or comet.  Everything else Jesus has taught in this section has been descriptions of literal events (even if those events are extreme) – there is no reason to assume that Jesus all of a sudden changes His speech to purely symbolic.
    1. BTW, what Jesus taught wasn’t new.  It was written in OT prophecy.  Isaiah 13:9–10, "(9) Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. (10) For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine." []  This is the same day of which Jesus spoke!  And the same events are prophesied to occur.  The OT prophet Joel wrote of the sun and mood growing dark, and the stars diminishing in brightness when the Lord roars from Zion (Joel 3:15-16).
    2. The NT picks up on this same idea in the book of Revelation.  In the opening of the 6th seal, the sun becomes black & the moon becomes as blood (Rev 6:12).  During the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th trumpet judgments, massive bodies are thrown to the earth – one specifically labeled as a star, and then one-third of the sun, moon, and stars are struck and darkened (Rev 8:8-12).
    3. The whole idea here is that these are literal events.  It would be one thing for the Bible to write of this casually once, but it is spoken of over & over.  Jesus uses literal language to describe literal events.  We don’t need to look at past history and wonder if it’s already occurred, or if we’ve somehow missed it.  By the Bible’s description, there won’t be a single person on the planet who will be able to mistake the events!
  3. And that’s the point, isn’t it?  These are literal events, and thus the signs are unmistakable.  In the midst of the horror of the Great Tribulation with the death toll rising around the world, the sun growing dark, and things crashing to earth, there won’t be anyone around the world wondering whether or not God exists.  Every excuse that people use to deny God will be taken away, and when they rebel, they will know against Whom they are rebelling.
    1. Of course, when it comes to the existence of God and the truth of the Scripture, men & women are already left without excuse.  All of creation is itself evidence of its Creator, and proof of the gospel message is found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  4. It is the resurrected Jesus that will come next.  See vs. 26… 

26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

  1. Who will see Jesus?  Everyone!  Every eye will see Jesus returning with the clouds (Rev 1:7).  He will make Himself known to the entire planet, and return with all the glory of God.  Believers and non-believers alike will see Him – both those who await His coming, and those who deny it.  There will be weeping, some will be tears of joy; others tears of grief.
    1. You are guaranteed to see Jesus, but don’t wait until that moment to trust Him as Lord.  If you wait until you see Jesus, it will be too late.  The time to trust Him is now.
  2. The description here is absolutely incredible.  Jesus is no doubt referring to Himself – He used the term “Son of Man” at least 10 times to this point (in Mark’s gospel) to refer to Himself.  Although it references “man,” it’s actually a direct claim to His deity, and the original prophecy speaks of this very event.  Daniel 7:13–14, "(13) “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. (14) Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed." []  Daniel sees the Messiah approaching the throne of God, to be given everlasting glory & an everlasting kingdom (something that can only be said of God).  Yet how does the Messiah originally come?  With the clouds of heaven.  This isn’t referring to nice, puffy clouds in the sky (which we might imagine various shapes and animals); this is a reference to the weighty “chabod” glory of God.  When God descended upon Mt. Sinai, He descended in fire and smoke (Exo 19:18) – when the glory of God filled the Tabernacle, it was the pillar of cloud that covered it (Exo 40:34) – when the glory of God filled the Temple, it was filled with a cloud (1 Kings 8:10-11).  That kind of smoky cloud is one of the manifestations of the glory of God.  Just as Jesus was received up into the clouds at His ascension (Acts 1:9), so will He return with the clouds, showing all of the power and authority of God.
  3. Can you imagine it?  Our Lord Jesus, who first came in all meekness and humility, will one day come back to earth with all of the glory of God proceeding before Him, the clouds rolling in, as Jesus rides His white horse, with the sword of the word of God coming from Jesus’ mouth, ready to put a decisive end to the armies of Antichrist and the Great Tribulation itself.  Guess what?  One day, we won’t have to imagine it; we’ll witness it!  We will be there with Jesus, because He will be followed by the armies in heaven clothed in white linen (Rev 19:11).  That is not a description of angels, but of the Church.  We will see our Jesus in all of His glory at His 2nd Coming.  How incredible!  What a privilege!

27 And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.

  1. Mark’s gospel does not record the battle of Armageddon, but instead focuses on what happens afterwards: Jesus’ gathering of His people, the “elect.”  The Church will accompany Jesus upon His return, but we won’t be the only ones.  Jesus will “send His angels” as well, and they will gather all of those who had put their faith in Christ during the Tribulation years.  No matter where they are upon the earth (“four winds” = every direction on the compass), they will be found and lovingly brought to their Master.  Not a one will be lost.
  2. This seems to be the flipside to the event referred to in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).  The wheat and tares were in the same field of the world, and as the owner sent his reapers to gather them up, the tares (false converts, nonbelievers) were gathered for judgment, but the righteous were shining in the glory of God.  Apparently, this is how.  Some angels gather the rebellious for judgment, while other angels gather the elect for Jesus.
  3. Imagine the measure of comfort this will bring to those awaiting Jesus.  For years, those who hold to faith in Jesus will have been hiding from the persecutions of Antichrist.  They will have witnessed untold trials, just hanging on to the knowledge that one day soon Jesus would come for them.  They don’t have to worry that they would be hidden somewhere that the Lord Jesus could not find them.  They don’t have to worry that because they are not in Jerusalem (or Petra, or anywhere else in the near vicinity) that they won’t be included in the gathering, and perhaps they’ll get caught up in the judgment.  Jesus’ angels will find them wherever they are.  Jesus knows who are His, and Jesus will not leave a one behind.
    1. That’s a comforting thought, but that’s also a sobering one.  Jesus knows who are His.  Are YOU His?  You may tell others you know Jesus, but would Jesus claim you as one of His own?  When Jesus comes for the Church in the rapture (a different event), He won’t leave a single born-again believer behind.  The question is whether or not you are a born-again believer – whether or not you’ve personally received Jesus as your Lord & King, having asked for His forgiveness.  If there is any uncertainty, then you need to settle this today.  If you do not have the internal witness and confirmation that only the Holy Spirit can give, then you need to take steps today to ensure that you have placed your faith in Jesus as Lord.  He will receive His own to Himself; are you HIS?

28 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors!

  1. Jesus has told them what to expect, now He continues to tell them when to expect it.  Earlier, Jesus had taught of very specific signs – the “these things” mentioned in vs. 29: the birth pains, the abomination of desolation, the tribulation, and the signs in the heavens.  When those things are happening, the time is “near” – it’s time to pay attention!  Jesus uses the parable of the “fig tree” to illustrate.  Just as someone could look at the tree and see when the plant was preparing to bear fruit, so would people be able to see the specific signs Jesus gave and know that the Son of Man was preparing to return.
  2. Some have looked at the parable of the fig tree as a specific prophecy concerning Israel, saying that because the fig tree is often used in Scripture as a picture of Israel, that when the withered fig tree of Israel starts putting forth leaves again, then Jesus is soon to come.  Thus with the rebirth of the political nation of Israel, they say that this is the definitive generation in which Jesus must return.  There are a few problems with that interpretation.
    1. Israel has indeed been reborn as a nation, but it not yet a nation of faith.  It is truly a miracle that the political nation exists, and that in itself is a fulfillment of prophecy (Ezekiel 37, among others).  But it is difficult to say that the withered fig tree is starting to “put forth leaves,” in that it is still a nation that rejects Jesus as their Messiah – and that was the reason the fig tree was pronounced withered in the first place (Mk 11:13-14).
    2. Jesus promises in vs. 30 that the generation will not pass away until all these things took place.  Practically speaking, that generation IS passing away.  Israel officially became a nation in 1948, and time is passing quickly.  Much of the generation that originally witnessed it has already died.
    3. Most importantly, Jesus doesn’t seem to use the fig tree as a picture of Israel here.  Luke 21:29–30, "(29) Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. (30) When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near." []  IOW, it’s not just the fig tree, but all trees in general.  Even people who aren’t farmers can generally look at a fruit tree and tell when buds are ready to bloom, and can tell the change of seasons.  The fig tree was just a common tree in Israel to which Jesus could point, with many fig trees on the Mount of Olives itself.  He seems to have been using it as just an illustration to make the point to watch for the change in spiritual seasons.
    4. That said, we definitely DO need to pray for Israel. (Especially now!)
  3. What’s the bottom line?  When the season is right, the hour is near.  Jesus said that people will be able to know the season, so people need to pay attention.  People need to stay awake and stay alert.  (Again, you don’t want to put off repentance until it is too late!  There was an urgency then & there is an urgency now.)
  4. For the Christian in the Tribulation, again there is a message of hope and comfort.  Those will be days of terrible trial, but Jesus tells them what to look for to know when things are coming to an end.  If God did NOT cut short the days, all of humanity would perish.  But God DOES cut short the days, and He graciously tells His people what to look for to know that He is doing it.  When things look the worst, believers were to look for Jesus.  Their Deliverer is coming, and they could look forward to His saving work.

30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

  1. No doubt this is a tough Scripture to interpret!  Jesus was speaking to four of His twelve disciples, and He said to them clearly that “this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”  At first glance, it seems that Jesus is saying that all of these things would take place within the generation of Peter, Andrew, James, and John.  It’s because this would seem to be the natural interpretation that so many people hold to the idea that the prophecies of the Great Tribulation had to have been fulfilled in 70AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans.  After all, if Jesus said the generation wouldn’t pass away, then it wouldn’t pass away.  Jesus neither lies, nor is He wrong.  The obvious problem is that although there is much that Jesus taught that WAS fulfilled in 70AD, there is much that was NOT.  The 70AD timeline certainly includes the generation of the apostles, but it doesn’t include most of the other signs that Jesus specifically said to look for.  There was no abomination of desolation, stars did not fall from the sky, the existence of humanity was not threatened, etc.  Most importantly, Jesus did not return!  To take the logic of preterism (fulfillment in 70AD) to its full end is to claim that Jesus somehow already returned, but no one saw it and no one knows it…and that is directly the opposite of what Jesus taught about it.
    1. Whenever we interpret Scripture, we need to take the full context of Scripture into account.  It would be easy to take 1-2 verses from its context and claim that all prophecy has been fulfilled, but when we look at it in full view, it plainly has not.  Context is key to interpretation.
  2. So if Jesus did not mean the generation of the apostles, what DID He mean?  There are different thoughts.  (1) “Generation” could be translated “race/kind of people.”  It’s possible that Jesus is saying that the race of the Jews will not pass away until all the Scripture is fulfilled.  No doubt that is true, but again, the context is broader than just the Jews by this point.  Jesus has spoken of His elect, and the gathering of all His people.  That includes both believing Jews AND Gentiles.  (2) The prophecy could have a dual fulfillment.  The generation of the apostles would witness the destruction of Jerusalem, whereas a later generation would witness Jesus’ coming.  Again this is true, but it seems to be a bit of a stretch for what Jesus actually says. (3) “This generation” does not reference the generation of the apostles, but the generation that witnesses the budding of the fig tree (which Jesus just referenced).  This would be the generation that witnessed the signs of the Great Tribulation.  Once THAT generation sees the signs starting to unfold, they will know that all of things Jesus taught will indeed happen, and they will witness His glorious return.  They could know that once things begin, they will happen quickly & they as a generation would not pass away before it is all fulfilled.
    1. The rest of Scripture bears this out.  The Bible indicates that the entire length of the Great Tribulation is 7 years.  Most of the signs Jesus spoke of seem to fall in the final 3½ years…well within the timeframe of a single generation.
    2. However this prophecy bears out, we can be sure it will be obvious and evident when it does.  There won’t be any second-guessing when it comes true.
  3. How can people know it will happen?  Jesus gave His word on the matter. Vs. 31…

31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

  1. What Jesus said, will happen.  Everything else may pass, but Jesus’ words will not pass.  The heavens and earth will themselves pass away and be remade into something glorious and new (Isa 66:22, Rev 21:1), but the words of Jesus will never “pass away.”  His word will be fulfilled, but it will never fail.  (And there’s a BIG difference!)
  2. Notice: Jesus shows Himself to be equal with God.  The words of men fail.  The words of men pass into nothingness.  Only the word of God never fails.  It alone never returns void.  It alone has eternal value.  Jesus’ words have the same power, weight, and authority as God’s.  Why?  Because Jesus IS God.
    1. If Jesus’ words will never pass away, what does that say about His promises?  Jesus’ promises are forever true!  Those who believe in Him will always have everlasting life (Jn 3:16) – those who believe in Him will always be with Him (Jn 14:3).  Every promise Jesus makes is eternal because His word is eternal.  Praise God!
  3. Remember the context here.  The promise in view is Jesus’ 2nd Coming.  Jesus had often told the disciples that He would be leaving them.  He would be betrayed, arrested, crucified, and resurrected (all of which would take place within the week).  But there would be more to come.  Jesus would be coming again.  He promised to return, and He WILL do it.  This is a promise we still hold to, today!  People often doubt the return of Jesus because it has been so long, and Jesus hasn’t yet returned.  But look at what He said here: all of the physical universe could pass, but Jesus’ words will still be true.  Jesus IS coming.  2 Peter 3:8–9, "(8) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." []  Has it been 2000+ years?  Yes.  But Jesus is waiting for a reason.  And you might be it.  Jesus isn’t lazy – He hasn’t forgotten His promise; He is demonstrating His mercy while He waits.  God wants all people to come to repentance.  He is giving every person every opportunity…don’t waste yours!

32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

  1. When exactly is Jesus coming?  “No one knows.”  We can know the season (per the fig tree), but we cannot know the day or hour.
    1. No human knows, and no human should bother trying to guess.  Date setting is wrong, and downright illogical.  If Jesus said that no one knows the hour, then why would anyone think they could guess it?  Just as surely as Jesus WILL come, Jesus said that NO ONE knows.  One promise is as certain as the other.  We are definitely to be aware of the season, but we should stop all futile attempts to guess the exact moment.
    2. No angel knows.  Any angel that claims to know and give special revelation to someone about it is lying.  The Bible tells us that the devil can appear as an angel of light, and Jesus warned in this very passage about the grand amount of deception that will take place.  We want to take heed not to give into deception, even if it comes from an angelic messenger.
    3. Not even Jesus knew!  At least at the time that Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, not even He knew the exact day and hour of His 2nd Coming.  This doesn’t take away from His deity at all; it emphasizes His submission to His role within the Trinity.  God the Father has a certain role, as does God the Son and God the Spirit.  Although equal with the Father, the Son will not take a role that is not His.
  2. Does ANYONE know the day & hour?  Yes: “the Father.”  God knows exactly when He will send Jesus back to earth to end the Great Tribulation, and institute the glorious Millennial Kingdom.  Jesus’ return is not going to be hastily planned, thrown together at the last minute.  It is not done in response to anything, as if His return is a last-resort tactic used only in the case of great emergency.  The 2nd Coming of Christ will happen at the exact time and in the exact way planned out by God the Father from before the foundation of the earth.  God has ALWAYS had a plan for the redemption of the world and consummation of His creation, and Jesus’ return has always been a crucial part of that.
    1. If Jesus’ return is a part of God’s plan, what does that say about the Great Tribulation?  That’s also a part of God’s plan.  Although it will seem to the contrary, nothing about those days will be random chaos.  Nothing will be spinning out of control.  Nothing will be outside of the capable hands of Almighty God.
    2. If God controls the days of the Great Tribulation, God is certainly in control of the trials WE now face.  Take comfort in the fact that even on your worst days, as a believer in Jesus, you are still within the protective hands of your heavenly Father.  God loves you – God is in control…that is a comforting thought!
  3. So how are people supposed to respond to all of this?  What do people do with the knowledge that Jesus is coming back?  Wake up!  Vs. 33…

33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.

  1. Jesus tells people to do three things.  First, “take heed.”  The original word speaks of the physical act of looking.  Sometimes it was used to refer to “considering” an issue, but when Jesus says to “heed,” He’s saying to look around.  Open your eyes and see.  Jesus did not list off a bunch of signs in order that people could play Bible trivia games with one another, and try to one-up each other on their knowledge of prophecy.  He gave signs in order that people would see them and recognize them for what they are.  We are ALL to look.  Today we can see what has or has not yet come to pass, and as things DO start happening, the believers in Jesus are to look and pay attention to those things.
  2. Second, “watch.”  A better translation of this word is to “awaken/be alert.”  The idea here is to be vigilant.  Not only are people to keep their eyes open, people are to use the time that we have while we’re looking.  It would be easy to get lazy, or even get sleepy while we wait for the fulfillment of prophecy and Jesus’ coming, that is precisely what Jesus warns against.  The fact that Jesus has taken so much time to return is not a sign that we need to slow down our efforts – if anything, we are to ramp them up!  We are to be extra vigilant, now more than ever.
  3. Third, “pray.”  Not all manuscripts have this listed, but the vast majority do.  One of best ways to remain vigilant and active as we await the return of Jesus is to spend time in prayer.  In the parallel passage in Luke (Lk 21:36), Jesus says to pray that we would be counted worthy to escape this time (which is the promise to all who believe in Jesus prior to the rapture).  Even in our times today, prior to the Great Tribulation, we are to spend our time in prayer.  Never forget that we have an enemy who, as he did with Peter, desires to sift us like wheat (Lk 22:31).  We need to stay alert & active, and prayerful, in order that we would stand firm in temptation and trial.
  4. Why does Jesus warn us so fervently?  Because we “do not know when the time is.”  God may know the hour, but WE do not.  We cannot afford to fall asleep on our post.  We cannot afford to procrastinate & put anything off until the last minute.  After all, we may never know which minute IS the last minute.
    1. Again, this is true whether or not you believe in the pre-tribulational, pre-millennial view of the rapture.  There are many reasons to hold to that interpretation of the Scripture, but that does not affect what Jesus says here one bit.  We do not know when our last breath will come, much less when Jesus will return either for His Church at the rapture, or for His 2nd Coming.  When you DO take your last breath, what is it you want to be found doing?  Active & working for your Lord – or sleepy and unprepared?
  5. Jesus tells another parable to make the point.  Vs. 34…

34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.

  1. Although this is similar to the parable of the talents, this particular parable is unique to Mark.  Jesus tells of what would have been a familiar scenario: a homeowner goes on a trip, and leaves his work and home in the care of his servants.  Obviously the man’s business does not stop while he is away, and he entrusts his servants with “authority…and work” to complete during his absence.  A specific command is given to the “doorkeeper” to keep “watch.”  This would have been a servant stationed at the primary gate of the home property, and he was to keep on the lookout for the return of the master.  The servant may have been told a general timeframe of the master’s return, but he did not know the specific moment.  The master could return at any time during the night watch, and the last thing the doorkeeper would want to have happen would be for the master to come to the gate and find the doorkeeper asleep.
  2. Likewise, Jesus commands His people to watch – to be alert.  He gave a general season, but He did not say the hour.  His people have been entrusted with work & responsibility, and we need to be active.  We need to be awake.  After all, the Master could come at any hour, and we want to be ready.
  3. Keep in mind what the problem here would be.  It’s not that the servants don’t belong to the master…that never seems to be in question.  No one here is cast out; no one is even found to be unfaithful.  The concern for the servant was not to be found “sleeping.”  The servant of the master is still the servant of the master; he just wanted to be found a faithful servant.  For believers, it’s not a matter of trying to earn our salvation – after all, our salvation can never be earned.  Salvation is always a gift of God’s grace.  We are saved by grace, and we are kept saved by God’s grace.  Salvation isn’t the issue; stewardship is.  Jesus has given us something to do; we want to be found doing it.
    1. What has Jesus given us?  The Great Commission!  There is a world that is lost and dying without the hope that only Jesus provides.  We have been given the work of sharing that hope with the world, and the authority with which to proclaim that hope.  We dare not grow sleepy or lazy with the task!  
    2. There is a tendency for us to read prophecy of the last days and do nothing but look up, faithful to watch for Jesus, but perhaps taking our eyes off of others.  It’s not one or the other; it’s both.  Look for Jesus, but look also for those who don’t yet know Him.  The knowledge of the soon return of Christ is not an excuse for us not to engage in evangelism; it’s even MORE reason to share the gospel with as many people as possible.
      1. Want help?  Ask God.  “Who do You want me to share Jesus with today?”

37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

  1. Jesus concludes the Olivet Discourse by repeating the instruction to watch.  This is the same root word used in vss. 33, 34, & 35.  It’s not just the physical act of looking; it’s the attitude of alertness, wakefulness, and vigilance.  Be on the active lookout – be awake & watching.
  2. And notice it’s not just instruction for a few.  Jesus doesn’t just say this to the four disciples, nor to the twelve, nor to believers only in the Great Tribulation. “What I say to you, I say to all.”  All means all.  We’re ALL to watch.

Conclusion:
Are you watching?  Are you awake?  It’s so easy to procrastinate, putting off the things that Jesus has given us to do.  It’s easy to get sleepy and lazy, thinking that nothing has happened so far, so nothing will happen any time soon.  Beware!  This is a time to wake up.  This is day in which not only Christians are needed, but ALERT Christians are needed.  We need to be mindful of the times in which we live, and the lack of time that we have left.  Now more than ever, we need to be about the business Jesus has given us to do.

Jesus is coming – with power and glory.
We can know the season, but we cannot know the hour.
Be ready.  Be working.  Be found faithful.

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