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“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 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. 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. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”—Mark 13:32–37 (NIV)
What was the point of this discourse by Jesus? Was it so we could know everything that was going to happen? Was it so we could sit here and theorize, try to link it all to our present time period and interpret things based on current events, engage in arguments about when, and write endless amounts of books, essays, commentaries, lectures, seminars, and sermons about when, where, and how exactly these things would take place? Not at all.
Consider that Jesus said, “not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son” knows when the end would come. How is it that even the Son doesn’t know? Well, while in His physical body on earth, Paul explains that Jesus, “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7 ESV). Translation? Part of being emptied means Jesus set aside during His time on earth certain benefits and privileges of His nature of deity (kenosis). During His life, Jesus generally operated within the limitations of humanity and knew what God intended Him to know for the fulfillment of the work He was sent to accomplish (John 15:15). After His ascension, the Son returned to His fullness with all His divine privileges as a deity, and thus He, along with the Father and Holy Spirit, know the day and hour.
So, why tell us this detail? Because, again, while on earth the Son knew what the Father intended Him to know for the purpose of His saving work, but this revelation of the day and hour was not pertinent to that work. That is so important. It’s our lesson and the very point of this discourse, and honestly all prophecy in Scripture. It doesn’t matter when these things are to occur, it doesn’t matter the day or year or hour. What matters is that we are ON MISSION, that we WATCH OUT, be ON GUARD, and stay ALERT! It’s been His point since the beginning of this discourse, and He’s said it over and over again (eight times) in these brief 37 verses in Mark 13!
Jesus tells us these things so we would not be caught off guard by persecution, trouble, calamity, war, and false teachers; so we wouldn’t be found “sleeping” on the job—“inactive in the exercise of grace, and negligent in the performance of duty; unprepared for his coming, and unfit for service” (John Gill). He tells us so we we’ll be prepared. He gives us what we need to know in order to accomplish the work He’s called us to. We’re to be on guard for these things so as to walk faithfully, persevere, live in reliance to Him, live on mission, and be about His work. We’re to be about His business of making disciples and occupying until He comes. Be sober minded and ready, because it could happen at any time. And that’s all we need to know!
Pause: Why does God not tell us the day and hour? Why is it not important to know this?
Practice: As we move into the last three chapters of Mark and the arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus (the work of redemption done by Jesus) commit this week to staying alert and living on mission. Find yourself in His Word, in prayer, in fellowship with other believers, and walking in accordance and obedience to His Word and will, and open to the work the Spirit calls you to.
Pray: Jesus, I pray for endurance, perseverance, and wisdom to be alert and ready. I pray for Your guidance and direction to be about Your business and for an open, available spirit to hear from You and walk in Your will. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.