"Keep watch." God wants our attention in this most important matter. Be alert! "Because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." Over the last Sundays of the year (Sundays of November) this is a central theme in worship. We are reminded that of all days to be ready for, the day of our Lord's return is most important. Therefore in Matt. 24 Jesus says, "Keep watch." And yet many do not watch. And so when that day comes, how tragic it will be when some will say, "I guess I wasn't ready." Like the student staring at her failing test grade . . . or the ball player slouching off to the bench after another strike out . . . or the deerhunter who missed out when a trophy buck passed in view. "I guess I just wasn't ready."
"Watch." The Greek word for watch means to chase sleep away. No one can be alert and asleep at the same time. We commonly use the word asleep to indicate unpreparedness. Jesus told a parable about ten virgins: Five were wise, ready and watching for the celebration. But the other five were asleep, unprepared. The idea of not being ready can indicate procrastination. Part and parcel of being human, we put things off as long as we can. Maybe you've heard the story of the mountaineer's wife who rarely left home. One day a preacher stopped by. While sermonizing the mountain man the preacher queried, "Brother, are you ready for the Judgment Day?" To this the mountain man replied, "Well when's it coming?" "The Day of the Lord cometh soon, maybe tomorrow, maybe today" replied the preacher. "Well for goodness sakes, don't tell my misses. She'd want to go both days!" Just like the mountain man in the story, human nature likes to postpone things . . . Why be concerned today for what can be put off to tomorrow? Maybe in the future I'll give more serious attention to what God says in His Word. The Apostle Paul once wrote, "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor. Now is the day of salvation."
Jesus said, "Keep watch." But how do we do that? A college once hosted a symposium on religion that featured speakers with a theologically diverse background. The topic question was: What is the greatest spiritual need your religion fills in life? Most of the speakers agreed that the main purpose of religion was to help individuals become better people in life. But one guest speaker shocked the others, "My greatest need is for peace with God; I need relief from the guilt and tyranny of my sin." So how are we to keep watch? Focus on Jesus and what He has done for our salvation.
Keeping watch for Jesus means recognizing that although sin separates us from God, Jesus reconciles us by His death and resurrection. And for this reason we watch and want to be ready to meet Him, and ready to live and reign with Him in heaven forever.
"But concerning that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come." Mark 13.32-33
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