Ready or Not, Here I Come (Mark 13:33-37)
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Ready or Not, Here I Come
The call to be ready for the sudden return of Christ—
from the Gospel of Mark 13:33 to 37
I loved playing Hide and Seek growing up. It was one of those great neighborhood games, and we used to play it every night during summer. It was a blast. As soon as whoever was “it” counted to 50, then they’d say those exciting words, “Ready or not, here I come”–which launched him or her suddenly, quickly and certainly. And if you had not found a great place to hide, there was a good chance you’d be caught and become “it” yourself.
What’s great about being a genuine Christian is, when the end times kick into gear, we are hidden really well. We will not be caught, because we will be with Christ. We will be raptured, literally “snatched away” to be with Christ.
As we’ve walked through Mark 13, we’ve discovered that there are some who, for theological reasons, justify changing the rules of interpretation in order to embrace God’s coming Kingdom as only spiritual–an amillennialist. Or other believers think Christians will be so impactful on society they’ll make this world into a utopia and create a Kingdom that lives by God’s law for a long time, then Christ will return and we will give Him His Kingdom—postmillennialists.
Yet if you interpret the Bible in a normal, literal manner, not changing the rules of interpretation for prophetic passages, then you will have no choice but to become a premillennialist, and believe that Christ will return before a thousand-year earthly rule. Revelation 6 through 18 describes the seven-year Tribulation Daniel predicted in the Old Testament. Then Christ will return in Revelation 19 and physically rule for a thousand years on Earth, which is repeated six times in Revelation 20.
Premillennialists are the only ones who don’t change their hermeneutics to determine their eschatology. But if you are a premillennialist, one of the debated questions is the timing of the Rapture of the Church, which begins the end times. It is obvious from 1 Thessalonian 4, 1 Corinthians 15 and John 14 that Christ is going to snatch His Church away to be with Him. As 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
But when will it be–before the Tribulation (pre-trib), at the middle of the Tribulation (mid-trib), or right before the final outpouring of God’s wrath (pre-wrath), or right at the end of the Tribulation (post-trib)? I believe, and our FBC eldership holds, that we are raptured before the Tribulation (pre-trib). Because of that, we need to be ready right now. By way of introduction, let me tell you why the Rapture is at the beginning of the Tribulation.
#1 The book of Revelation is laid out CHRONOLOGICALLY
The Church appears in chapters 1 through 3 on Earth. But starting in chapter 4, with the beginning of the Tribulation, all the way through chapter 19 with the return of Christ, there is no mention of the Church on Earth. There is no description of the Church, nor any exhortation for the Church during those Tribulational chapters 6 through 19 of Revelation.
All the New Testament epistles instruct the Church. But all the instruction in Revelation to the Church ends in chapter 3–then you’re in Heaven in chapter 4. And then God begins to pour out His wrath on planet Earth in chapter 6. Revelation 4 through 19 talks about Gentiles, Jews, Jewish evangelists, 144,000, 12,000 from each tribe, the two Jewish witnesses–but never mentions the Church until you see the Church in Heaven at the end. Why? Because we’ve been raptured–not ruptured. Why else should you believe in a pretribulational Rapture?
#2 The absence of WARNING to the Church in the New Testament
The Church is never instructed on how to prepare for the Tribulation, nor warned about the Tribulation. You’d think if we were going to go through the trauma of the Tribulation, there’d be some instruction in the Bible about what we should do. For the Church, the end times is always a blessed hope–we are looking for Christ. We’re not looking for the Antichrist or judgment, but a happy, blessed hope. Why else should you believe the Church leaves before the seven-year Tribulation?
#3 The USELESSNESS of the Rapture at the end of the Tribulation
If the Rapture doesn’t occur until the end of the Tribulation, and believers go through the Tribulation, then why Rapture at all? Why go up in a Rapture, to then immediately come back down in the Second Coming? The Rapture passages describe us as going to a place Christ is preparing for us to go to be with Him. John 14:2, “’In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.’” Christ doesn’t come to be with us where we are–we go to be with Him where He is.
In John 14, Jesus is talking to His disciples in the Upper Room and says to them, I’m going to take you to Heaven. “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” So if His Second Coming establishes His Kingdom on Earth, and whatever Jesus is talking about here takes us to be with Him in Heaven–that means there are two different events. There’s no instruction on how the Church is supposed to survive the Tribulation, or prepare for the Tribulation. There’s no warning or judgment at all. So John 14 is about going to be with Him, and we’ll never be separated from Him again.
Seven years later, after we’ve been in the place prepared for us, after we’ve had the marriage supper of the Lamb, after we’ve come to the Bema Seat and received our rewards, we’ll return with Christ in glorified form to meet the regular saints who’re still alive after the Tribulation, to enter into the 1,000-year Kingdom.
#4 Where do believers who POPULATE the Kingdom come from?
Believers are transformed, then given new bodies at the Rapture. If the Rapture occurs at the end of the Tribulation, then all true believers are glorified. So then where do all the regular Christians come from who enter into the Kingdom? Who populates the Kingdom? At the earthly Kingdom of Christ, all the sinners have just been punished–and if the Rapture is at the end, then all the believers have just been transformed. There’re no more normal Christians left.
The only way you can populate the Kingdom is to have the Church taken out at an earlier time–then through the two witnesses and 144,000 Jewish evangelists experience the greatest revival in history, as people from every tongue and nation turn to Christ. When Christ returns, the ungodly goats are taken away in punishment, and the redeemed sheep enter the Kingdom. So a post-tribulation Rapture leaves nobody for the Kingdom.
#5 God promises to keep His Church OUT of the Tribulation
Revelation 3:10 says, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance.” He’s talking to Philadelphia, one of His true churches. “You have kept the word of My perseverance, I will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth.” That is a pre-tribulational Rapture verse–you’ve kept My Word, you’re Mine. I will keep you from the hour of testing.
“Hour” means a specific time coming to test the world. It isn’t a general testing, but a specific hour of test. It describes the Tribulation time, which comes to test all those who dwell on the earth. Jesus says, “I will keep you from the hour of testing.” Keep you from is the Greek phrase, tereo ek, meaning to be kept out of—literally, to maintain a continuous existence outside of. It’s future tense, talking about the future Tribulation, telling us the true Church will be kept out of that hour—pre-tribulation.
#6 Only a Pre-Tribulation Rapture brings COMFORT
In 1 Thessalonians 4, the believers in Thessalonica were worried that Christians who died might miss the Lord’s coming. So he says in verse 13, I don’t want you to be uninformed about those who are asleep, those who died, so that you will not grieve as the rest who have no hope. They were thinking dead believers were going to miss the Lord because they’re now dead. Paul says, “No, don’t doubt; if you believe Jesus can rise from the dead, then we can believe God can bring those who have died in Christ with Him.”
The dead will not miss it. Verse 15, “To this we say to you by the Word of the Lord that we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord won’t proceed those who are fallen asleep.” Not only will they not miss it, they’ll ascend first.” How? At the Rapture! Verse 16, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.” Why? Cause they have six feet further to go. Verse 17, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we always be with the Lord.”
We will go where He is–He’s going to meet us in the air and take us back to Heaven. That’s the Rapture. There’s no judgment, no punishment, no destroying the ungodly–none of the events described in His Second Coming by Daniel, or described by Christ here in the Olivet Discourse in Mark 13 are described. The moon doesn’t turn blood red, nor does the sun go dark. It’s a completely independent event involving only believers.
There’s nothing about non-believers in this event at all. The Rapture is meant to comfort believers, verse 18—see it? “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” How could you be comforted if you’re waiting for the Antichrist? How could you be comforted if you’re waiting for the Tribulation? You are not, because you are raptured before it all starts.
#7 The Church and Israel are DISTINCT
Israel is unique. The seventy weeks of Daniel are prophesied–69 weeks from the decree of Artaxerxes to the triumphal entry, and those 69 weeks were directed at Israel. Israel is the focus during the 69 weeks–and Israel is the focus of that final seven-year period, the 70th week, not the Church. That 70th week, the Tribulation, is when the Lord saves all Israel.
Jeremiah 30 calls the Tribulation the time of Jacob’s trouble. The Tribulation was in fact designed for Israel to be the focus. The Church came into existence at Pentecost, and at the Tribulation will be gathered into Heaven when the fullness of the Gentiles is done–our time is over. Then Israel will once again be the focus of God’s dealings as He works in them to turn to Him by faith finally as a nation. The Church is not a part of Jacob’s trouble, the Tribulation, simply because we are already raptured.
At the Rapture, the church meets Christ in the air–at the Second Coming, Christ returns to Earth with the Church.
At the Rapture, the Mount of Olives is untouched–at the Second Coming, the Mount of Olives is split into two.
At the Rapture, the earth remains the same–at the Second Coming, the earth is transformed.
At the Rapture, living saints are translated–at the Second Coming, no saints are translated–they simply enter the Kingdom alive in human form.
At the Rapture, the world is not judged and sin gets worse–at the Second Coming, sin is judged and the world is far better.
At the Rapture, the reign of Antichrist is triggered–at the Second Coming, the reign of Christ is triggered.
At the Rapture, your body goes to Heaven–at the Second Coming, your body comes to Earth.
The Rapture is imminent, signless–the Second Coming has distinct signs before it occurs.
The Rapture concerns only the saved–the Second Coming is for the saved and the unsaved.
So now take a hard look at Mark 13:33 to 37. Our Lord is actually preparing His men for the second phase of Christ’s coming, the return of Christ to planet Earth to rule as King. He seemingly does not have the first phase of His coming, the Rapture, in mind as He says these words starting in verse 33.
“’Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 35 Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all, “Be on the alert!”’”
The command, “keep on the alert,” is listed three times in verses 33 to 37–at the beginning, middle and end. It’s the main issue—keep awake. Stay alert, don’t diss the end times—okay, sure, it’s not as important as the Gospel, but Jesus wants you to stay awake.
Did you observe that the phrase, “for you do not know when” occurs twice? Then verse 33 adds, “the appointed time will come.” And verse 35, “the master of the house is coming.” So the main point of this passage is simple–be watchful and get ready for the return of Christ. Ready or not, here He comes. “So what does this look like? Explain it to me, Jesus–okay?”
#1 INSTRUCTION for believers on Christ’s return Verse 33
The reason for the Olivet Discourse is to cause you to live alert. It’s so important to the Lord Jesus, He commands you.
First The COMMANDS to be LOOKING and AWAKE for His return
Verse 33 begins right out the door with two commands–you see them. “Take heed” and “keep on the alert.” Grab onto the Lord’s heart here–five times in three different ways, when it comes to the end times, Jesus commands us or exhorts us to open our eyes and stay alert . . . five times! When Jesus tells you five times in three different ways to wake up, pay attention, watch out, open your eyes–should we take Him seriously? Yes–look at verse 33.
1 Verse 33, “take care”, blepete means to open your eyes, to see, watch out, be aware, don’t be blind, ignorant or indifferent. He uses the exact same verb in verses 5, 9, 23, and now verse 33. Watch the news, keep praying, be discerning and be aware. Observe what God is doing in the world, and look for His return.
2 Then the Lord adds in verse 33, “keep on the alert”, agrypneite. It’s a present imperative—literally to chase sleep away. Jesus commands you to not allow yourself to fall asleep spiritually. Do not allow yourself to become complacent. Do not fall into a lifestyle where you know Jesus is coming, but it makes no difference in how you live each day. Christian, do not forget you live on a seductive planet, you have a hateful enemy, and your own flesh will work against you. Do not grow comfortable here. This place is not your home. You’re behind the lines, in enemy territory. Do not fall into routine, do not go through the motions. Jesus is coming–keep on the alert. Look for His coming.
3 Then the Lord adds another term in this last paragraph. Verses 34, 35 and 37 say “be alert”—gregoretie, How many of you are named Gregory? This is the meaning of your name. Be alert means to be faithful. Be faithful in service during the Master’s absence. Heaven is when you rest–right now you have work to do. Be faithful to fulfill your unique function in the Master’s house. The Lord is being very specific here. Heed my words–stay awake, stick with your job, and watch for the Master. How can you determine if you are alert or asleep? Alert believers . . .
1–Give themselves to watchful PRAYER
Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” Ephesians 6:18, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” First Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
2–Involve themselves to faithful SERVICE
Hebrews 10:24 to 25. “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”
Matthew 24:45 to 51, “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave, whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and shall begin to beat his fellow-slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.”
3–Adjust their LIFESTYLE to prepare for a sudden return
Matthew 24:42 to 44, “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
God commands you to stay alert. Jesus says we should be more concerned about how we invest our lives and spend our time for His glory than determining the “when” of Christ’s return. The Lord wants us to work against the spiritual danger of complacency and moral laxity. We need to zealously pray, faithfully serve, and live a life that honors Christ. We are to live each day as if He returns today. Live your life in light of the soon return of Christ. Christ commands you to make today your last day. Really? Yes–this is what the Lord says are . . .
Second The REASONS for His COMMANDS
Verse 33b, “for you do not know when the appointed time [season] will come.” Why pray, serve, and change your lifestyle? Because you don’t know when the Lord will return. Though the Second Coming is in view in this context, these words are doubly true for us in the Church with the sudden, unexpected Rapture that begins the entire Day of the Lord, beginning the Tribulation, leading to the Second Coming, and the Millennium.
Israel won’t know the exact season of Christ’s Second Coming, and the Church cannot know the moment of the Rapture. In fact, the Greek word “know” in verse 33 is the perfect tense–you have not known, and you will continue not to know when the appointed time (season) will come. Jesus just told us in verse 32 that the creatures closest to God in Heaven, the angels, do not know when Christ will return.
And He just told us that in His incarnation, Jesus Himself did not know the moment of His return. Then surely no one here knows when Christ is returning–no apostle, or reformer, or pastor knows the date of His return. All those who have picked a date have been and will be wrong. Jesus told you before His ascension to Heaven in Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.”
Matthew 24:42 and 44, “Be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 44 The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not think he will.” Only the Father knows the time–you and I cannot know. Therefore be ready–the return of Christ is imminent. The Rapture is any moment for us–it could be right now!
And the Second Coming, in a broad sense, is imminent. Though Mark 13 tells us many signs must occur before Christ finally returns to Earth, the exact day and hour will remain unknown. So how do we prepare for His coming? The Lord makes our role in preparing for His return very practical, with a pointed . . .
#2 ILLUSTRATION for believers on Christ’s return Verse 34
Look at verse 34 and following, as it’s unique to the gospel of Mark, and reinforces the Lord’s commands for us to be watchful. “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.”
This is a simple illustration. The owner of a great estate leaves. He puts his slaves in charge of the estate while He is gone. He gives every single one of them a responsibility, a task, a job to do while He is gone. Something they must not fail to do. Then He pointedly commands the doorkeeper to stay alert for danger, and to watch for the Master’s return, in order to welcome Him and let Him in when He arrives.
Jesus Christ is the estate owner. The Lord is telling us He is going to leave. He will ascend to Heaven and He will be physically gone. You and I are His slaves, whom He has put in charge. He has given us authority while He is away. The Lord has authorized His servants to collectively carry on the work of the household during His absence, and in doing so He has also assigned every single one of His slaves a function in the household that they are to fulfill while He is gone. And each of us, all His slaves, have a job to do while He is away.
Is it not obvious what this points to? Do you see it? You have a giftedness in the household of God. He assigned you a task in His Church you are to fulfill. You are only a faithful servant and a good slave of your Master if you fulfill your task, do your job, until He returns. What is your job? Simple—minister your gift. God has given you a spiritual gift for service within the Church for the common good. Every one of you has been a tool to be used by the Master in the care of His household, the Church.
Each one of you has been uniquely given a way to show Jesus off to others in the body. The Lord has left you with a job to do, and that is to serve in the local church. Those who do not are lazy, or disobedient, or unthankful, or untaught slaves. The Lord is speaking to each and every one of you, when He says in 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” And 1 Corinthians 12:7, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Then Romans 12:6, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.”
And along with faithfully serving with the job your master left you to do, you and I are to function like a doorkeeper. Look at the end of verse 34. You can easily see this illustration is stated in an unusual way. Jesus tells us He’s given each of us a job to do while He is gone, but then focuses on the doorkeeper. The language seems to point to the fact that along with doing your job, God wants you to also function as a doorkeeper.
The doorkeeper seems to be a role we all share. Who is the doorkeeper? He is the slave who guarded the outer gate in the wall that surrounds the house, thus controlling all access to the entire house. Every believer, like a doorkeeper, must watch for the Master’s return–to look for Him, watch for Him, and expect His soon return. You’ve been called to the duty of guarding, in the interval between His going away and His glorious return.
The disciples themselves would take that guard watch duty very, very seriously. And here the Lord is saying to that generation in the future that sees the events of Mark 13 happen, “You’d better be on the alert. You don’t know when the Master is coming back.” In verse 34 Christ commands you the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. Are you slaves of Christ awaiting your Master? Are you looking? Are you fulfilling your assigned duty? Are you serving? Our Lord makes His plan for you while He’s away really clear.
#3 APPLICATION for believers on Christ’s return Verses 35 to 36
Jesus drives home the necessity for expectancy. Your Master wants you to be looking for His return every day. In fact He says . . .
First Be ready for WHEN Christ returns
Verse 35, “Therefore, be on the alert–for you do not know when the master of the house is coming.” Stay alert, literally stay awake, remain faithful each day. Don’t drift, don’t coast, don’t float–stay sharp, stay in the game. You know what it means to float–I’m sure you’ve floated down a river, being carried by the current. You can almost fall asleep, being carried away by the current. Jesus says, spiritually, while I am away, do not float.
Some of you were sharp, involved, committed–but now you’re not. Jesus is speaking to you–do not coast. Stay awake and serve. Remain involved, faithful, committed until Christ comes to get you. The Greek verb “know” in verse 25 is perfect, meaning this–you have not known, and you continue not to know when Christ is returning. There is no date setting–you’re to be expecting it to be today. You must not become complacent. Jesus is coming at any time. Do not fall into routine–stay sharp, as if today was your last day. It’s a fact, the Master of the house is coming. When?
Second Be ready WHENEVER Christ returns
In the second half in verse 35, He’s coming at any time. And to make certain we understand just how imminent, Jesus gives us four unique options of when Christ might return–see it in verse 35. 1) whether in the evening, or 2) at midnight, or 3) or when the rooster crows, or 4) or in the morning. What is the Lord saying? Answer: I am coming at any time.
Jesus is referencing the four Roman watches, rather than the Jewish three. In case you don’t know what a watch is, it is guard duty. If you’re in the Roman army, you would be assigned to guard a portion of the camp at night. The Jews had three watches at night, but the Romans (the Gentiles to whom Mark is writing) used four. The evening was 6 to 9pm, midnight was 9 to 12pm, the rooster crowing was 12 to 3am and the morning or dawn was 3 to 6 am.
Jesus is telling us He will come at any watch–anytime. If you knew when the Master of the house was coming, you could prepare yourself. But here you do “not know” when the Master of the house is coming–so you need to be prepared daily. And His coming cannot be predicted.
Third Be ready as Christ returns QUICKLY
Christ warns His men, the believers who are alive when He returns, and all of us today–He’ll come suddenly. No one will know exactly when. See it in verse 36, “in case he should come suddenly.” The Greek word “suddenly” means quickly, without warning, and unexpectedly.
Christ’s return will be just like this–you are walking along, and then He will be present, He’ll appear. How do I know? Because the Greek word suddenly is used just that way. When Paul shares His testimony in Acts 22:6, he uses the same word suddenly in just that way. “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me.” Just like that, Christ will return quickly. And all of this means that all of us need to . . .
Fourth Be ready always for Christ’s return and never grow COMPLACENT
The last phrase of verse 36 warns us. Do you see it? Christian, you and I must not grow complacent. Christ must not return, verse 36, and find you asleep. The Lord is not talking about actual sleep–He is describing those who are not spiritually sharp–those who have allowed their love to grow cold, lost their first love.
How do you see it? Not serving your giftedness in the body, not keeping Christ first in your affections, not giving Christ first from your income, not remembering your mission to share the Gospel to the lost, not seeking to honor Christ in your job, with your spouse and kids, not living for Christ at school. You’re asleep when Christ is not why you work, why you serve, or why you go to school, or why you raise a family—it’s all for Him.
Christ is telling His followers to be about His work every single day, so that when He returns, you’re not embarrassed. Only when you live for Christ each day are you actually alert. Only when Christ is your motive for work, school and family are you not asleep. Only when you pray daily and serve Christ faithfully are you awake.
Coming soon in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples are reprimanded five times for their failure to watch (chapter 14, verses 34, 37, 38, 40 and 41). Despite being exhorted five times to watch and pray, the disciples drift off and fall asleep. Like Keith Green used to sing, the Church today is asleep in the light. The Romans and Greeks to whom Mark directs his gospel grew to believe that too much sleep was a sign of bad character.
The body needs rest and refreshment but too much meant you were lazy, weak, flawed, slothful and useless. So Jesus says, do not be found asleep spiritually. Do not live life as if Jesus is not going to return any moment. And to make certain we don’t miss how important living alert is, our Lord concludes chapter 13 with verse 37 and . . .
#4 PASSION for all believers about Christ’s soon return Verse 37
Get this–Jesus makes certain each believer at FBC knows without a doubt that His coming is crucial. Not merely to His disciples, but to each of you here this morning–He is talking to you.
First The PEOPLE Charged
Verse 37a, “What I say to you, I say to all.” That’s clear, isn’t it? I am talking not merely to you men who are here with me on the Mount of Olives, as I walk through the end times and my soon coming. But I say to all believers today, and those who become believers during the actual age when Christ does return. And every single one of you–this is for you. Jesus says, “Hear Me–listen to me, act on what I am saying to you.” What does Christ want?
Second The PASSIONATE Charge
The final words of Mark 13. The last words of Jesus teaching us about the end times. The final command of this entire passage and His soon coming. What is it? Verse 37b, “Be on the alert!”
1st Stay AWAKE
My beloved family, I say this to myself as much as to you. Do not respond like the apostles did. Jesus pours out His heart about staying alert, remaining hot, keeping Christ as your first love. He does this on Wednesday night, but by Thursday evening, just 24 hours later, at the moment when Christ needs them most, He asks them to stay awake and pray–and what do they do? Each of them repeatedly fall asleep in the garden. I fear the same for my heart and yours.
We just heard Christ command us to stay alert. He repeatedly asks us to stay alert and watch for His coming. To treat every day as if it were all for Christ. And to treat every day as if it were our last day–first day. And some of you will forget these words before you get to your car, others by tonight, and still others some time this week. Christ commands you, begs you, calls you, pleads with you to live each day ready for His return.
Because He commands us, we know it is best for us. It is the only way to experience His life and joy and love fully. But it is also because time is short. Christ is coming—let’s get ready, and live ready every single day. Say each day, “Even so, come Lord Jesus,” and live as if today were the day–the Day of the Lord. Stay awake!
2nd Stay FAITHFUL
The Lord has made it abundantly clear, if you are faithful, if you are truly watchful. If you are genuinely waiting for Him to come, then you will serve Him, pray to Him and simplify your life enough to make a difference for Him in others’ lives. Are you swimming against the current of convenience and comfort in order to remain faithful to Christ? Can you say with David in 2 Samuel 24:24, “David said, ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.’”
Are you truly living a life of sacrifice? Are you truly a living sacrifice? Is there any evidence in your life that your entire life belongs to Christ–it is all for Him? How you live determines whether you believe Christ is returning. Stay faithful.
3rd Stay CONFIDENT
You don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, but you do know the God who controls tomorrow. You don’t know what trials might hit you and your family, but you do know that God is the one who designed those trials just for you–for His glory and your good. You see, you don’t need to know the future when you know the one who holds the future.
4th Don’t Stay INDIFFERENT
Hear me–you must listen. Look up here. All genuine Christians, all believers, those who go to Heaven when they die are all, each one, committed to Christ. You are not a Christian because you prayed a prayer or made a decision at camp. You are not a believer because you serve, or give, or sing, or cry tears of sorrow over your sin. Real believers will not allow a spouse, or kids, or parents keep them from following Christ. True Christians will not show up to church on occasion, when it’s convenient or they don’t have other obligations.
You are a Christian because God has sovereignly saved you and caused you to be regenerated internally. You have a new heart that wants to follow Christ. You hate your sin, you hate that which dishonors Christ. You love Him more than any relationship. You want to be with Him now, but until then, you will be faithful. Are you a born again Christian–a real believer? If not, cry out for His mercy, turn from your sin in repentance, and depend on Christ by faith. Do not remain indifferent. Let’s pray.
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