Mark 13:32-37  No One Knows When

This is the final installment (Part 6) of our sub-series (the Olivet Discourse) within a series (Discipleship in Mark – Follow Me). So let’s launch right into it!

“But about that day or hour” (the coming of the Son of Man – v. 32, NIV) is used in contradistinction to “Truly… this generation will not pass away (destruction of the Temple, v. 30). No one, not angels, nor even the Son (cf. Mark 10:40), but only the Fathers, knows when this event will happen. In case you didn’t quite get that: “you do not know when the time will come” (v. 33, emphasis mine).

“This should strike caution into the most daring modern exponent of prophecy.” – R. Alan Cole (TNTC)

In our first two verses here we learn that you can’t predict it and you can’t prepare for it (Garland, NIVAC).  The only way to prepare for it is to “Be on guard, be alert” (v. 33) – constant vigilance! Jesus Himself best models this kind of faithfulness, as we will soon see in our gospel story (and the disciples model unfaithfulness in Jesus’ hour of trial – see Geddert, BCBC).

The parable of the doorkeeper (v. 33-37) tells all of us (“I say to all – v. 37), not just church leaders, that we must remain fully engaged in our particular service to which Christ has called us. We must remain ready for the threat of an intruder as well as an unexpected “early” return of the Master (v. 36). Sin, loss of love, worldliness, forsaking our allegiance to Christ, and faithlessness are all among the traps we might fall into if we fail to keep vigilance. Once again (for the third time) we  are told “you do not know when the master of the house will come” (v. 35)!

“The whole tenor of this parable suggests a long absence” – Cole (TNTC)

While the timing of the parousia is unknown, the fact of His return is a certainty (Lane, NICNT)!

“Everyone in every generation is called to discernment and discipleship in every watch of the night.” – Tim Geddert (BCBC, p. 320, Kindle Edition)

[See Geddert and Lane on Mark’s use of the four watches of the Roman Night and the parallel failures of the disciples during Jesus upcoming ultimate time(s) of crisis in our story.]

How can we as followers of Jesus remain faithful as people of Christ’s kingdom today? What are some of the “distractions” that can get us off track, pulling our focus off our sacred task(s) if we do not remain vigilant? What forces in our current culture lull us to “sleep” numbing our hearts, mind and spirit when we desperately need to “keep awake”? What sins or other interruptions (like, e.g. entertainment, social media, etc.) disturb our efforts to “Be on guard”?

Perhaps you may want to gather with a few friends this week, read this passage together and discuss these questions.

No matter what our context, we are called to faithfulness, and Jesus is our example. Discipleship is a tough road so keep your eyes on the King!

“Follow Me” – Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 1:17)