In Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question about the end of the age occurs in chapter 13. Three times, Jesus gives instructions as to what we oughta be doing until He splits the skies wide open and “all heaven breaks loose.”
In vs 23, Jesus said, “be on guard.” In vs 33, Jesus again says “be on guard” but adds the phrase, “keep awake.” Finally, in vs. 37, He instructs us to “stay awake.”
Three very similar English phrases translated from three different Greek words.
“Be on guard” – literally “look/watch”. It’s a very common word used for “watching” in the New Testament. In contemporary vernacular, think of the idiom, “keep an eye open….”
“Keep awake” – Used only 7 times, in only 4 verses, in the New Testament, the word literally means, “to be sleepless, attentive, ready.” Paul used this Greek word in Ephesians 6:18 as he finished up describing the “armor of God.”
“Stay awake” – literally: give strict attention to; be cautious; vigilant; active. This is the same word Jesus used in Matthew 26:38 when Jesus, in Gethsemane, is about to be under so much anxiety that He sweats blood. As such, He asks His disciples to “watch with me” (while Jesus prays.) Jesus, knowing the Jewish & Roman guards were even, at that moment, on their way (led by Judas) to arrest him, asked His disciples to be “cautious, vigilant, ready for action.”
Chris is Returning. No power on earth – or in the cosmos – can prevent this event. Three times in the Revelation’s final chapter, John records Jesus, in essence, telling us, “I’m on my way!”
Until that event….
1. Keep an eye open for it – it’s coming.
2. Don’t make the topic of Christ’s return an infrequent or occasional (or non-existent) thought. Be “sleepless” in your focus on His “glorious appearing.”
3. Be vigilant. Just as Judas and the Jewish leaders preyed on Jesus, so Satan preys on our thoughts, attempting to discourage us from the truth of Christ’s return. Be ready to respond with the “sword of the Spirit” (the Word of God.) In short, be vigilant, ready for action.
Speaking to the Thessalonian believers about this very topic, Paul wrote, “Encourage one another with these words.” Be encouraged, my friends.