Sermon – November 29, 2020 – Advent 1
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David R. Clark ~ Mark 13:32-37 ~ November 29, 2020 ~ Advent 1
32“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35“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. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Dear friends in Christ,
If there is one thing we have learned it’s to watch. To be on time we are taught to check the time, especially your phone or the little clock on your wrist (which is why it’s called a “watch.”) We have been taught to stop when we see that red octagonal sign. No police officer who saw us not stopping would accept, “I didn’t see it.” And who here doesn’t know to look for a fever, loss of smell and taste, a dry cough as an indication of Covid-19.
We are taught to watch as Christians, too. Today is the first Sunday in Advent. Advent means, “the coming,” Jesus’ coming. He, himself, tells us about watching.
- For personal indifference. (verse 33)
Jesus says, 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.
Jesus uses two different words warning us to watch, which mean the opposite of becoming drowsy or sleeping. It’s what a sentry would do. A sentry has to watch to keep the lives of everyone in his camp safe. The penalty in some armies for sleeping while on sentry duty was death because of the crucial nature of watching.
So why would someone be indifferent or apathetic or just not watch? The people at the time of the apostles thought Judgment Day would come during their lifetimes. But it didn’t, and it hasn’t come, yet. And because that is so, some might be tempted to feel that “watching” isn’t all that important.
We all know the signs of not watching. Is the enthusiasm of a new confirmand or a newlywed the same as their enthusiasm a year after their ceremony? One confirmand was so eager that she showed me she had put a small amount of money into her own personal offering envelope a week after confirmation. A year later the elders were calling on her.
Are you keeping watch, or is tomorrow just another day? What if the Lord came tomorrow or today after church? Are you prepared for that? Is there any unfinished spiritual business you need to take care of if that did happen? Faithfulness is a marathon, not a sprint! Watch out for personal indifference.
- Your assigned task. (verse 34)
It’s easier to avoid indifference if we watch our assigned tasks. 34It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
The master of the house who has assigned the tasks is our God. Some tasks God gives to every Christian; tasks like avoiding false teaching and practice, being good stewards of his abundant gifts; and raising our children as Christians.
But God has also given tasks to some that he has not given to others. Not everyone has the job of coordinating ministry, but we all help carry it out. Some are asked to serve on the Church Council or as elders or Sunday School teachers. We all rely on these people.
Jesus did many things while he was on earth that can be a model of this. He preached some pretty good sermons and taught people. He helped people who were sick and dying. These were more general responsibilities. But God only sent Jesus to live perfectly under the law, suffer, die, and rise again. His task was to pay for our sins and assure us of our salvation so that we could put our faith in him and live forever. Watching means each of us faithfully carrying out our assigned tasks.
- For the Lord’s return. (verses 35-37)
The final thing to watch for is the Lord’s return. 35“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. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Maybe this happened to you last Friday: you are in a slow checkout line with an armful of potential purchases. When you get to the front of the line, you find that the cashier is carrying on a texting conversation. What happens when her boss sees this?
Sometimes we treat Jesus coming back like that. It’s like we think other things are more important. And that’s exactly the situation Jesus is warning us about. The watches mentioned by Jesus are the times from midnight to 6:00 a.m. The whole point is we can expect him to come at the time when people are least likely to expect him. So watch! Be awake! Be ready spiritually!
I suppose it would be easier if we had a specific sign, a 2-minute warning that Jesus is coming. The Lord has done that very thing in the past. Remember this one: A virgin will conceive and give birth to a baby boy and will lay him in a manger. Yet even a sign as specific as that was met with apathy. The number of people expecting Jesus when he was born was pretty small, even though it was a sign that the Savior of the world was coming to redeem us. That same Savior is coming back, not as a baby, but in glory and with power. This is our sign. In other words, Watch!
Eight days from now we will mark one of the greatest military disasters in the history of our country, Pearl Harbor. It was a tragedy, certainly because of the great loss of lives and equipment used to defend ourselves, but even more so because we weren’t ready. The Lord is coming, too, don’t let it be a Pearl Harbor for you spiritually. Watch for indifference, watch your assigned task, and then watch for his return. He is coming. Be ready. Amen.