Just prior to his crucifixion, Jesus indicated that the initial stage in God’s creation was coming to an end, that He would come again in order to establish a new order of God’s reign, and that God would “repay every (faithful) man for what he has done” since the beginning.
All this would be signaled by destruction of Jerusalem and its temple and preceded by wars, natural disasters, persecution, idolatry, even in the temple, with stars falling from the sky.
It stirred fear!
Understandably, the disciples wanted to know “when” all this would occur and how they would fair. Warning against false teaching on the matter, He said that only the Father knew the time but that upon his return he would “send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds.”
In the meanwhile, He had this word for his disciples – then and now: “Watch, for you do not know when the master of the house will come!”
Inasmuch as Jesus speaks of His second coming frequently in terms of ‘night watch’, ‘wakefulness’, and ‘alertness’ (see Matthew 24.42; 25.13; Luke 12.38)
- He is clearly giving his close followers something other than calendar information;
- He is calling them – and right down to believers today, us – to perpetual readiness in His Name and for God’s new creation in Him.
- He is calling them to a clear vision of who they are and to what they have been called, so away from apathy, stupor, and weariness.
- He is calling them to spiritual wisdom, to openness to his word, so not taken in by false teaching, however pious is seems.
- He is calling them to spiritual courage, so not giving in under the most arduous trials and difficulties for His Name’s sake
- He is calling them to earnest prayer, so not being silent toward God in thoughtless preoccupation.
In all, He, calling them to be ever on their tip toes, hence prepared to spring forth and meet the Lord upon his return and when the angels sound the call.
In largely bygone days, railroad crossings were marked by signs that read STOP / LOOK / LISTEN for oncoming trains. The Gospel reading for this first Sunday in Advent, from Mark, has our Lord saying TAKE HEED / WATCH / PRAY!
He is coming again! Of course, he will be with us anew spiritually as we remember his first coming in another Christmas season. He speaks here, however, of his physical coming again at the end of present time, at an ultimate Christmas.
Let us indeed be perpetually ready!
– JR Hiles
Adapted from a Sermon on Mark 13.24-27 / 11/30/08