No one knows – Mark 13:32-37

Jesus wants us all to be alert and ready for his coming.  In Mark 13:32-37 he says,

32 But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 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. 35 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 rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.

Jesus draws an analogy between the kind of constant awareness and expectation he wants from us and the doorkeeper to a house.  In this case the doorkeeper’s master has gone off on a journey and may come back at any time.  When Jesus compares this to his own return, he points out that he, our master, might come at any moment, even in the middle of the night.  No one knows when he will arrive.

I happen to be an advocate of the pretribulation rapture view of Christ’s coming, which, among other things, seems to make the most sense of this passage.  Though I know plenty of wonderful Christians who disagree, I do hope they at least see the importance of our constant preparedness and sense of expectation.  For example, one of my former professors, who holds different views on end-times prophecy from me, still says in his commentary on this passage, 

The reference to all four watches, including the second and third watches when people avoided travel, underlines the fact that Jesus’ return may happen when it is least expected, and emphasizes that Jesus’ followers are always “on duty”: they must always, constantly, be alert, prepared for Jesus’ sudden, unexpected return. 

Eckhard Schnabel, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary *

In a day when people are not overly enthusiastic about Bible prophecy, there is a constant danger to shift toward a lack of enthusiasm.  Let’s not forget that the New Testament emphasizes that Jesus is coming soon.  Let’s be like the faithful doorkeeper in Christ’s comparison who is ready to open the door at any time, even at an unexpected moment.  In other words, at any and every time, Jesus might realistically be expected. 

No one knows when Jesus will return.  This means we should always be ready.

 

* Eckhard Schnabel, 2017. Mark, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. (Downers Grove, IVP Academic), 339.

A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 25

Heavenly Father,

The church has been waiting for Christ’s return for what seems like a long time. Help our faith to be genuine and our attitude to remain watchful so that we will be ready when he finally arrives.

Help us also to be busy about our Master’s business. You have given us resources and abilities that you expect us to use for you. Help us not to fear or get lazy, but rather to use what you have given us for your glory.

We also realize that the consequences of Christ’s judgment are eternal. We ask you to forgive us that we might inherit the kingdom that you have prepared for us from the foundation of the world.

We pray for all of those we know that are lost, that they might be saved, and in that way avoid the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

While we are waiting for Jesus and working for you, help us to be a blessing to the poor, the needy, the foreigner, the sick and those who are in prison.

Help us to be a blessing to any and all that need our help, starting with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but not stopping with only them.

And help us to keep doing this until Jesus comes.

In Christ’s name,

Amen.

 

 

Remaining Watchful

Yesterday morning at 3:00 AM the church’s burglar alarm went off. The alarm company called me – and I missed the call. Alas, I had set my phone to “silent”. When I finally woke up at 4:30 (no I don’t always rise that early) I noticed it, so I called the alarm company back.

Sigh of relief. They had been able to contact Debbie, who told them not to call the police. Good thing she lives right around the corner. I decided to spare Debbie the grief of another call that early (on a day off, no less, with the preschool closed) so I waited until later to ask her about the incident. If she said the police were unnecessary, then everything must be OK.

When the alarm people called, Debbie took a look at the place from her privileged vantage point and everything seemed calm and in order. A key detail is that only one “alarm zone” went off – in an isolated stairway/entrance. If someone was in there with evil intentions, there would be more alarm activity: motion in an office, opening of a crucial door, an attempt to disarm or disable the alarm system. Perhaps it was an animal. We’ve had both birds and bats in times past.

When I got there later, I noticed no living creature, but another interesting fact. A window in one of the classrooms was open. Wide open. That particular window is among the most accessible from the outside and it was open wide enough for a person to climb in or out. Flying creatures have normally entered through open windows upstairs. Moreover, it’s hard to imagine it was left open by accident on Sunday. It’s late December and Jake and I checked all the thermostats, doors, etc., as usual. Not likely the gaping window would have escaped our notice, but it may not have been latched securely.

There is no apparent damage to the place and nothing seems to have been taken. Perhaps fear gripped the prowler after he made entry and he fled. Maybe the sound of the alarm scared the intruder away. There are some real lessons here, mostly regarding watchfulness:

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. – 2 Timothy 4:5 (NKJV)

  1. Be watchful all things.
  2. Always check all doors and windows to make sure they’re tightly closed.
  3. Keep the alarm set when no one is in the building.
  4. Thank Debbie for answering her phone at 3:00 AM.