Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

“Stay Awake”

Categories: Congregational Bible Reading

BIBLE READING: Mark 13

The scriptures teach of the second coming of Christ and a day of judgment (1 Thessalonians 5.1-11, 23-24; Hebrews 9.28; 2 Peter 3.10). But when will that end be?

This chapter has tantalized end-times enthusiasts for generations, but we must read it in the context of verse 37: “no one knows except the Father” (Mark 13.32). In Mark 13, Jesus tells his followers what must happen before the end, but he does not tell them what they long to know – the precise dates and signs. The reason is that God has not revealed it even to the Son (Mark 13.32).

We must conclude that God does not deem it vital for disciples to know such things. Someone has noted, “If Jesus is uncertain of God’s timing, there is good reason to be suspicious of other forecasters boasting knowledge of matters received for God alone.”

And so, if Jesus does not intend to offer a timeline of events, why does he teach these things? I submit that Jesus is describing an end to teach all believers about the end. Here, Jesus depicts two events: the destruction of Jerusalem, which he uses as a figure for when Christ would return at the end of time.

Jesus purposefully relates these two events to teach a lesson about preparedness (Mark 13.34-37). Twice Jesus warns his disciples to "stay awake" (Mark 13.35, 37). His point is that knowing the day or the hour of the end, for disciples then or now, doesn’t change the expectation from Jesus to be consciously engaged in the work (Mark 13.33, 37).

The most important thing that Christians have been called to do is preach the gospel to all nations (Mark 13.10). When the Son of Man comes, he will not quiz people to see whose predictions on the date were accurate. He will want to know what we were doing. Were we proclaiming the gospel to all nations? Were we enduring suffering faithfully? Were we fulfilling the assigned tasks?

Jesus’ message is simple: things will happen God’s way, through God’s Christ, and God’s people will be vindicated in a conclusive manner that all will recognize. And so, the disciple is not called to determine the timing of the end; he is called to cope with it and respond appropriately. When Christ returns, those who have not taken the mission seriously will be more than just embarrassed; they will be judged. 

“…the day of the Lord will come… Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” (2 Peter 3.10-12)

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