Mark 13: 32-37 – “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning – lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
Watch for what?
The words above are from Jesus while talking about His return and the end of the age. When Jesus returns for His second coming He will establish (literally and physically) His kingdom. He will destroy the present heaven and earth and replace them with a new heaven and earth. When this replacement occurs, the effects of the curse on this world will be completely removed. Jesus will establish a rule of righteousness and will judge the nations. The current system of evil will be replaced by God’s holy system.
Will Jesus return today or tomorrow? This is like asking “Are you going to die today or tomorrow?” We don’t really know what a day will bring, but we are all going to die someday, that is definite. It is also definite that Jesus will return. And so, there will be “the day before Jesus returns”, and most will not expect Him to be coming the next day.
I have learned that the Scriptures are intended to influence our thinking and our attitude. The question we should be asking is “what should our attitude be towards His coming? “Or “How should we be thinking about His coming?” The answer is that we should have the same attitude and considerations as the doorkeeper in the Lord’s parable above. Let’s take a deeper look at the doorkeeper’s situation.
We should first notice that the doorkeeper was commanded by his master to watch. Likewise, Jesus has commanded all of His servants to watch. The last verse quoted above, verse 37, states this clearly: “I say to all: Watch!” This is not optional or directed to just a few. This carries the same weight as Jesus’ other commandments to “love one another” or to “forgive” or to “pray”, etc. We, His servants, watch in obedience to His command for us to watch for His return.
The doorkeeper also needed to be careful not to be “sleeping” when his master returned. He is warned to not let the master’s return be sudden or unexpected, but rather to be constantly alert. The words “Take heed” quoted above, verse 33, are translated in the amplified version as “be on your guard [constantly alert]”. It is important that we continually remind ourselves that the Lord Jesus will be returning. Some day this current world system will be ended, and the end could be any day now.
Consider the doorkeepers situation. If the master’s return was long delayed, the situation is quite different than if his master’s return was imminent. If delayed, the situation would be as if there was no master, and this could change the doorkeeper’s behavior, resulting either in his deciding to sleep or perhaps other negative behavior as suggested in a similar parable recorded in the gospel of Matthew chapter 24: (vs. 48 to 51) “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that his is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Clearly, we need to view our situation as a temporary one that will be changed as soon as our Master returns. This is an extremely important mindset that we need to constantly adjust and update in our thinking. If we keep this mindset as a reality in our lives, it will impact our decisions, our choices, our view of our situations, and ultimately our happiness. It is easy for us to gradually drift back into the old way of viewing things without the master’s return in mind.
Notice also the exhortation to watch and pray. In our daily prayer life and communication with the Lord Jesus we should include the confirmation of His imminent return. As we pray, we can adjust our attitude to assure that we are seeing our situation in the light of His return. I find this to be very helpful. As I pray, I include a time to consider the Lord’s return and confirm directly to Him that I’m waiting and watching for Him. Do it every time you pray, and you’ll experience the value.
There is also the idea of being ready when the master returns. I’m not sure what the doorkeeper needed to have prepared when the master returned, but in general, he was careful not to be surprised and caught off guard, nor to be caught behaving as if he had no master. For us, the return of Jesus should be a motivation to make sure that our life is in order spiritually, and that we are dealing with any sin or impurity in our life. We need to be certain that we will have no regrets when he comes. We might ask ourselves what we would change if we knew for certain that he was coming tomorrow.
Once He comes, our opportunity for change is over. Now is the time to get prepared. Now is the time to do what is needed. We have a limited opportunity for changes due to the mercy granted to us through the forgiveness of the Father based on the cross of Jesus. This window of opportunity will close either upon our death or upon the return of Jesus at the end of the age. Either way, it is our business to enable the transformation from the old self to the new self that we become in Christ. We need to work towards the total transformation of our minds with the resulting changes to our behavior, becoming more like Christ.
Making His imminent return a reality in our lives is the foundation for the changes. We need to allow the inward change of our thinking to happen completely, then the outward behavior change will follow. Again I remind you, it is critical to be constantly aware of the true situation we are in as His servants awaiting His return. This aligns with our death to this world and the hopes that it offers to us, and it aligns with our need to store up our riches in heaven and not on this earth. This attitude of awaiting His return is part of walking in the spirit. If faith is the assurance or confirmation of things we hope for and the proof of things we do not see (see Hebrews 11:1, amplified Bible), then having this attitude towards His return must be a critical part of our faith. Is this not what we are hoping for, His return to deliver us from this evil generation and to establish the eternal kingdom with us as eternal citizens with immortal bodies?
Rejoice in His Coming
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ will be an amazing and beautiful event for His servants. The Scriptures say that we will be lifted up to meet Him in the sky and will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye. At this we should greatly rejoice. This too should be part of our attitude adjustment in our daily prayers, recognizing that our loving Master will be returning to set things straight. In the parable of Jesus, although not explicitly stated, I would suspect that the master’s return would be welcomed by the doorkeeper, especially if the master was kind and benevolent. In our case our loving heavenly Father, and His Son who gave Himself for us, are returning to take us to our true home. This is reason for us to greatly rejoice, and this joy is a source of strength for us to help us to endure until that day comes.
1 Corinthians 15: 51-58 – “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory.’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Come quickly Lord!