Good morning church! We are currently in Mark 13.
Let’s get right into the text that we’re going to look at this morning Mark 13:28-37
“I’m here only…just wait up for me”. How many of us have ever said that to our parent when we were getting back home late? Even when we said this, we were probably aware that it would take us a minimum of 1 hour to get back. But things change remarkably when Christ says the same words to us : “I am near” and “Stay awake”. Automatically we can feel the weight of those words.
It’s meaning is much more pointed because as Christians – the return of our Savior and Lord is the basis of our faith. If we remove Christ’s second coming from our gospel, our gospel will not stand. There is no good news without the reality of Christ coming to take us to our true home. It’s what our lives are banking on! Therefore, I would invite you into a study of those two phrases: “Jesus is near” and “Stay awake” because not only our future is dependent on this but it radically changes the way we live in the present.
Jesus is Near (v28-31)
Yes, what we’ve read so far haven’t been the most pleasant of experiences. We read about false Christs coming to lead people astray, we read about massive calamities and wars causing severe destruction and intense persecution from powerful people, religious people and sometimes our own family. On top of that we heard about the “abomination of desolation” last week. If we all wrote down our new year’s resolution, I’m pretty sure nobody had these things written down as things to do in the year. But what today’s passage is telling us is that when all these events take place, it actually serves as an indicator or like bright neon lights telling us believers that our Lord is here only. He is near. He is at the gate.
Because as believers that is our hope…that:
- One day everything in us and in creation that is sinful & broken will be restored and repaired (Rom 8:18-25)
- One day all wickedness will be judged & Justice will prevail (Acts 17:30-31)
- One day all the “righteous in Christ” will receive a new body and a new home with Christ forever. (1 Thess 4:16-18)
Therefore, these events are not meant to discourage us or leave us hopeless. These events as painful and hard as they may be will actually indicate to us that Christ is very near. And that’s going to fill our hearts with more longing and more expectation.
But someone might ask, “how do I actually know if these things will happen on not?” Let’s look at v30 & 31.
Now v30 is one of those difficult to understand verses because what does Jesus mean by “this generation”? There are multiple interpretations to this verse but my understanding of “this generation” refers to all disciples or followers of Jesus till he returns back again. Just like “last days” in NT was inaugurated by Jesus’ first coming. But what Jesus was emphasizing on was v31 where he says “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
- Jesus’ words are eternal – Everything else in all of creation can/will be replaced except for Christ’s words which reflects his character which is without falsehood. Jesus is God who does not lie. Jesus does is not like us where we at different points say “I take back my words” or where we change our decisions on different things. He is unchanging – He and His words remain the same yesterday, today and forevermore.
- Jesus’ word is authoritative –All of us have an understanding of authority at least at some level. If we’re having issues with someone in our family and no matter how much we try if it’s not getting resolved, what do we usually do? We end up going to someone senior in the family who we see as an authority. Why? Because we know that this authority has the influence to make things works exactly how he/wants it. When Jesus says “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”, he was not making a suggestion or being hopeful about what would take place. He is the Sovereign Lord who knows everything and controls the start, the middle and the end of everything according to His marvelous purposes. When Jesus says something, it happens exactly the way He says it will happen!
There’s a reason why in the Bible and in the New Testament, believers were constantly…again and again reminded about the coming of our Savior. Let’s look at one such passage from 1 Thess 4:16-18
It’s not to give them some kind of false hope or some type of optimism. They were reminded about this truth so that they would be encouraged during their severe trials and tests. I think that’s what some of us today need to hear. Some of us are experiencing suffering because of our faith in our families – Hang in there. I want you know that Christ is nearer than you think. Some of us are experiencing some really difficult circumstances where all you are thinking is “how long Lord…how long?” – Hang in there. Christ is nearer than you think. Some of us we are probably wondering how long will the fight with sin continue? When will we be finally freed of the presence of sin? Hang in there. Christ is nearer than you think.
But someone might say “but none of these things have fully taken place, so there is sometime before Christ comes. So let me relax until then”. Guess how Jesus addresses that question?
The main point of this story is that Christ is going to come suddenly when you least expect. I feel the impact of this point has made a lot more sense through my current job. My boss operates out of the US most of the year. He makes 2-3 trips a year and whenever he does come down, he tries to be a little secretive about the dates so people at the office are constantly guessing to figure when that is.
He never mentions why he does that but it’s probably to see if people are working when he’s away as well. Now this doesn’t usually bother me because I share a good rapport with my boss but I kept thinking in the lines of today’s passage…why would a servant be sleeping when the master gets back? Why wouldn’t he be awake instead doing what the master told him to do? I’m saying these things in the context of the story that Jesus illustrated. And I wrote down three reasons that come to mind:
- Honor: If the servant truly honors and respects his master, then he would want to faithfully steward his responsibilities. However, if the servant dishonors his master and considers him to be not important, then that would make him to be lazy and irresponsible at work.
- Love: If the servant loved his master and had a relationship with him, then he would eagerly wait for him. Not only would he work hard and take care of the house well, but he would long to meet his master again. He longs to spend time with him once he is back. However, if the servant didn’t love his master, he wouldn’t really look forward to meeting his master. He probably would’ve hoped that his master didn’t return in that case.
- Gratitude: If the servant was grateful for the opportunity and the responsibility given to him, he would fulfill his responsibilities with joy. However, if the servant wasn’t grateful for the opportunity then he would take it for granted and sleep in instead of staying awake and working.
If you noticed, we didn’t start from behavior changes – “Christ is coming soon, so you need to do this and that and this.” We started from the attitudes of the heart. Why? Because out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) If we don’t honor Jesus, don’t love Jesus and aren’t grateful for what Jesus has done for us….we obviously aren’t going to look forward to Him coming back. We won’t be living a life looking forward to Him coming back.
A few days before Angie and I got married, we decided to challenge each other with this question…if Jesus came back before we got married, would we feel like we missed out on something? At first it seemed like a funny question to ask a couple that was just going to get married, but then it challenged and convicted our hearts to see if we really honored, loved and were grateful to Jesus more than anyone else…more than each other.
- Similarly we should ask ourselves this question, we when look at our conversations with the world – do we see them reflecting our love, honor and gratitude toward Jesus?
- Do our private moments reflect the love, honor and gratitude toward Jesus?
- Some of us are married and so the question is…is our married life reflecting the love we have for Jesus, honor for him and gratefulness for all that he has done for us?
- Many of us are single preparing to get married…are our choices of a spouse reflecting the love, honor and gratitude we have toward Jesus? And all of this can be applied in so many other aspects of life.
A person can maybe alter his behavior but how does a person change his love? How does a person suddenly honor someone? How is a person’s heart filled with gratitude for someone? It can’t be manufactured, right? Honor begins when we realize who the other person is and who we are in response to that person. When we see Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible – Glorious, Pre-existent, Powerful in creating everything that is created – visible and invisible, Holy, Wise, Omnipresent.
On the other hand, we see ourselves as created beings who are weak and marred with sin. Oh it’s humbling. Like Isaiah says “Woe to me…I am lost. I am a man of unclean lips dwelling among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts”. What about love? We can only understand love and respond to love because Christ loved us first. We are weak and extremely sinful but the Bible tells us while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He took our penalty, our punishment, the anger directed toward us was poured out on Jesus. He willingly sacrificed His life for us.
On the third day He rose again victoriously defeating Satan, sin and death so that we can also benefit from this victory – we can also experience the blessing of being set free from Satan, sin and death. This leads us to immense gratitude where we first surrender ourselves to Jesus – no more our way but His way forever. And also immense joy and happiness because we realize what has been done for us by Christ. If we’ve seen something else or someone else competing with Christ, let’s repent of that and trust in the finished and full work of Christ on the cross. Jesus is near and He tells us to Stay Awake. Let’s not turn away.