32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
(Mrk 13:32-37 NIV)
Jesus has been answering His disciples’ questions about the destruction of the Temple – when it will happen, and what warning signs will be given. Jesus has answered their questions and more.
In today’s text, Jesus closes out this dialogue with a clear command to His disciples: “Watch!” Jesus uses repetition to make His point:
- No one knows when these events (the destruction of the Temple) will occur, not even Jesus – only the Father knows.
- Be alert and watch – it could happen at any time.
Remember that Jesus said that when the signs He described take place, there won’t be time to even collect personal belongings – it will be time to go (vv. 14-16).
Jesus uses an illustration of a man leaving on a journey. He calls His employees together, assigns each one work to do, and gives each one the authority to carry out their assigned duties. The man does not tell the employees when he will be back. Their job is to carry out their duties as if he were there, or expected back at any time – evening, overnight, or morning.
Jesus tells His disciples to be on the alert – don’t be caught sleeping! Jesus’ words would, as we will soon see, turn out to be prophetic when the disciples fall asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus is praying.
Could it be that our walk with the Lord is more about obedience than knowledge? Often, the Lord calls us to walk in faith and obedience in His supposed absence, not just when we see Him show up. We don’t know when He will work next; in fact, He is constantly at work in the lives of people all around us. The question is, when will we notice? Are we watching, or are we asleep at our assigned post?
A story is told of a British lady of considerable wealth that visited an orphanage as a potential donor. She was quite impressed with her findings: the facility was clean and well-run, the children were well-mannered and happy, with bright eyes and cheery dispositions, and the staff were professional and truly had the children’s best interests at heart in all they did.
All seemed to be in order until they rounded a corner and saw a large window with children’s’ fingerprints all over it. The lady, surprised by the messy window, exclaimed that someone must have neglected their duties to let this window get this messy. And didn’t the staff teach the children to keep their hands and fingers off the windows?
The administrator giving the tour smiled and assured the woman that the window did, in fact, get cleaned every day. The administrator explained: “This window faces east. These fingerprints are from the children gathering early each morning at this window to see if Jesus is coming today as He promised.”
May we live our lives intentionally, carrying out the tasks God has given us to do (Ephesians 2:10). May we live expectantly like these children, as if Christ is returning today.