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Mark 13: Keep Watch!

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Reading: Mark 13

Text
31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
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!'" (Mark 13:31-37)

Reflecting and Thinking
The Olivet discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) is admittedly difficult. The application of specific verses has been variously understood. Some verses seem to have such obvious application to events we know today that it is hard for us to know and understand how they might have applied to past events. Some verses seem to have such obvious application to the future that it is hard to apply them in the past or present.
There is some level of general agreement that Jesus is talking about two things: the destruction of Jerusalem and the events at the end of the world. What becomes difficult is to understand how Jesus addresses these two topics. Does he address and then the other sequentially? Does it intertwine the themes? Do some verses have dual application?
Jesus' teaching in today's text seems a clear reference to the end of time. The owner is coming back. The time of that coming is unknown. Therefore, be on guard. Keep watch. Be diligent in the tasks you have been assigned.

Do you think this teaching of Jesus was an encouragement to the disciples? How would you respond to the idea that he may have raised more questions than he answered? How should Christians today respond to this teaching of Jesus? What does it mean for us to be constantly alert and on guard?

Prayer
Dear God, we marvel at the deep things which only you possess and know. We want to understand when we do not, but we know also that your wisdom may explain the reason for the ambiguity. This day, help us cultivate an attitude of watchfulness, in the name of Jesus, Amen.


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Last updated August 16, 2011