Some passages you just need to hover over for awhile to try and get what it’s saying. Others I need to do some quick study work with my online Bible tools. Others still, I pull out my William MacDonald commentary to help me navigate what’s being said. And then, there are those passages that spell it out clearly. And in some, like today’s reading in Mark, it’s shouted out unambiguously: Stay awake!
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning–lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:32-37 ESV)
Jesus had told His disciples that there would be a time when the great buildings of Jerusalem would be thrown down . . . not one stone left upon another. And some, when they were alone with Jesus, asked privately, “When will these things be, and what will be the sign?” (13:1-3). And so Jesus tells them about the signs of the times before the coming of the Son of Man in great power and glory. But, He makes clear, it’s not so they can chart His return on a calendar.
No one knows the hour of Jesus’ return. No one on earth. Not the angels in heaven. Not even Jesus Himself. Only the Father knows. So why bother with knowing the signs of the time of His return if it’s not going to help you schedule His return on your calendar? Three times Jesus clearly states why, “Keep awake . . . therefore stay awake . . . what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” So what’s the point? Stay awake!
The Son of Man is coming. Stay awake. Just as Jesus ascended from earth in a cloud to heaven, so He will descend from heaven in the clouds and return to earth (Acts 1:9-11). Be alert. If Jesus said (and He did), “I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3), then He will. Watch for it.
Nothing worse than the master returning only to find his servants asleep at the switch. And we don’t know when our Master will return. Could be “in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning.” But return He will.
And that He has asked us, until then, to engage in the business of His kingdom is clear (Luke 19:13). That He has asked us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1) . . . that He wants us to live with, and love greatly, the people of God so that others might know Him through His disciples (John 13:35) . . . that His desire is that we bear much fruit through abiding in Him (John 15:1-8) . . . is all communicated in the Word He has left us. This and much more. We are not left to our own wisdom and opinions as to what the Master has asked of His servants while He is away.
The question that remains is, “Will He return only to find us asleep?” Or, because we know the signs of the times, will we have our head in the game and an “eye to the sky?” Will we be busy with kingdom work and heavenly pursuits because we see the signs and know that His return is imminent?
We don’t know when. But we know He’s coming again. Therefore, says the Lord, stay awake.
O, that we might be found busy for the Master on that day when the clouds part and we see Him face to face.
That we would stay awake . . . enabled by His grace . . . active for His glory.