Watch Out! Here He Comes
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. Mark 13:33-34
When a pregnant woman feels labor pains, she knows the baby is ready to be born. The pains become more severe and closer together until the baby arrives. Jesus Christ used giving birth as an illustration of signs for His Second Coming (Mark 13:8).
From the time of His First Coming and continuing throughout history, Christ’s disciples were told watch out for false messiahs, wars, earthquakes, and famines. Christians would face persecution, beatings, trials, and betrayals. These things, however, did not signal Jesus’ immediate return.
But as the time for His Second appearance draws closer, these things will intensify and occur closer together. “Those days” will be characterized by worldwide hatred and persecution of Christians, as well as worldwide spread of the gospel (9-13). There will be distress “unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again” (19). Then “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (24-25).
We are to watch out for false messiahs who will perform signs and wonders (21-23). How can we tell they’re false? Jesus told us that when He comes, the whole world will be watching. He’s coming in the clouds with power and glory. And angels will gather the elect from the heavens and earth—those who have died already and those who are still living (26-27).
When Jesus warned us to stay awake, He didn’t mean we couldn’t go to bed at night. We must keep spiritually alert and stand firm until the end, even if we have to suffer for His name’s sake. While we wait, He has given us assigned tasks (34-36).
Like the pregnant woman, we should pay attention to the closeness of the signs. Are we awake and watchful, serving in our assigned task? Are we part of the generation that is seeing the specific signs indicative of the end of the age?
Compare Mark 13 with Matthew 24 and Luke 21:5-26. What additional details do you see in the other gospels? What can interfere with our watchfulness?
Who is the generation that won’t pass away mentioned in Mark 13:30? We know this didn’t refer to the disciples, because Christ didn’t come back within their generation and time didn’t end. What are the signs specific to the end? What do you think His reference to the fig tree signifies?
Mark 13 is difficult to understand because Jesus weaves together precise warnings to His twelve disciples with things that will not happen for thousands of years. Key words serve as “signposts.” When He mentions Judea, He’s warning the Twelve. Can you find verses that apply to the rest of us? Look for words like “all,” “the end,” “those days,” or “then.”
By Nancy J. Baker