Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning. — Mark 13:35
At a routine doctor’s appointment five weeks before our second child was due to be born, my physician made a startling announcement. I needed to prepare for an imminent arrival — it looked like baby could be born at any moment! The relaxed pace of “getting ready for baby” shifted abruptly into high gear around our house. A list of things to do was posted on the refrigerator, and quickly my husband and I began checking off the items.
Because this was before cell phones, each day when my husband left for work, I checked to be sure that I had a phone number where he could be reached. As we discussed upcoming activities and plans, we prefaced our comments with the phrase, “If the baby hasn’t come yet . . .” Countless numbers of times I asked myself, What if it were today? Is everything ready? It seemed like nothing else but that imminent arrival really mattered.
In today’s text, Jesus warned His disciples four different times to take heed and watch. He wanted them to be ready for the upcoming events.
My husband and I did not know the exact moment our baby would arrive, but indications were that the day would not be far off. Jesus said that no man knows the day or the hour of His return, but He told of many events and signs in the world that will immediately precede His coming. When we compare the world situation today to the Bible, we must conclude that the day of Jesus’ return cannot be far off.
Exactly six weeks after we were told to be ready at a moment’s notice, our beautiful little daughter arrived. Those six weeks seemed to last forever, but my husband and I learned what preparation is all about. We made sure we were ready!
Today, let’s take an inventory. Is Christ’s return the focus of our lives? How often does the thought of it cross our minds? Do our actions of today and plans for tomorrow revolve around that tremendous event? Let’s live in anticipation of that moment, and make sure our preparations have been made!
In today’s text Jesus continued to talk with four of His disciples, warning them of the signs of His return.
Jesus opened with the parable of the fig tree. The fig tree is symbolic of the nation of Israel, and the disciples would have known this from Old Testament writings. (See Jeremiah 24:5-10; Hosea 9:10.) Because fig trees are deciduous, the growth of new leaves and blossoms indicate that summer is coming soon. Jesus was letting His disciples know that the indicators He had given them would be signs that the fulfillment of His prophecies was imminent.
The prophecies in the first part of this chapter were parallel, applying to the destruction of Jerusalem and also the end times, and this parable has a double meaning as well. The destruction of Jerusalem did transpire within the lifetime of the disciples’ generation. However, the end-times application of the parable relates to the nation of Israel. Because of disobedience, the Jewish people were scattered throughout the world, but in 1948, Israel was declared a nation for the first time since the Babylonian Captivity in 597 B.C. The symbolic fig tree had started to bud as an indicator of the nearness of Biblically-predicted events.
In verse 32, Jesus stated that no one knew the hour of His return. He illustrated this by the example of a landowner who had taken a long journey (verses 34-36). During this time period, travel was on foot, on an animal, or by ship so many journeys took months. Notifying the household of the exact time a person would return was difficult. In order not to be caught off guard, household servants were diligent to take care of their master’s goods in preparation for his return. The night hours were the most difficult time to be alert. Between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., Roman guards had four watches — evening, midnight, cockcrowing, and morning. Similarly, Jesus’ disciples needed to be alert and ready for His return at all times.
The point of this chapter was not to fully understand each detail of the Second Coming, but rather to be prepared for the Lord’s return. Three times in the last five verses of this chapter, Jesus said to “watch.” The final time He said, “What I say unto you I say unto all.” This warning was for all who would listen.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VI. The presentation and rejection of the Son of God
F. The instruction of the Son of God
4. The exhortations to watchfulness (13:28-37)
a. The lesson of the fig tree (13:28-32)
b. The lesson of the housekeeper (13:33-37)
Jesus has promised that He will return again. Our responsibility is to prepare for His coming and to share the Good News with others so that they may do the same.