Chapter 5

A Closing Story (VV. 34–37)

Jesus gives a final parable on being prepared for His return, then gives one final charge to pay attention. Interestingly, this time He doesn’t use blepete but rather a different word to convey the same idea.

“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. 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—in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” (mark 13:34–37; emphasis added)

Twice Jesus warns, “Be on the alert!” Both times it is the word agrypneite, challenging the hearer to be constantly awake. As the servant carries on his or her duties with the anticipation of the Master’s return, we too embrace the opportunities presented to us with a sense of awareness—not a sense of dread. No wonder Paul could tell his young protégé, Timothy:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 timothy 4:6–8)

Having lived each day in faithful response to the love of Christ, Paul had no need to fear death and every reason to celebrate Christ’s return. It is in that spirit that Jesus challenged His four good friends to live in the face of an uncertain future.

Lots To Consider

If you’re a fan of John Grisham novels, then it’s likely that you also enjoy the movies made from those novels. That enjoyment, however, is often frustrated because so much of the story has to be condensed or altered in order to compress it into the two-hour movie window. Sometimes it works well, other times not so much. For perspective, James Michener’s epic story of the American west, Centennial, was made into a 27-hour TV mini-series—and it still didn’t cover all the story!

The point? Some things are just too big for the space allowed for it, and that is certainly the case with the text of Mark 13. It’s an awful lot to process in a short study, but the big idea is clear—we need to pay attention. We need to be on guard (blepete), so that we live our days to reflect His life and heart. So that we can help others learn to pay attention as well.

As such, we need to pay attention to:

  • The times in which we live
  • The challenges and warnings of Scripture
  • The possibility of suffering for His name
  • The reality of His promised return

We need to pay attention so that, in these troubled and troubling times, we can point people to Him for hope and help.