32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 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. 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. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” Mark 13:32-27
We don’t know when the end of the world is going to be, but we need to live like Jesus is coming soon. Today needs to be urgent for us for that reason alone. Another reason why today needs to be urgent is because things today are urgent. They are urgent because the crazy things happening today are directly connected to the day when Jesus will return. This was the case in Mark when Jesus was telling His disciples to be on guard, to be alert and to watch. Jesus wasn’t just telling them this because He was coming back tomorrow. He hadn’t even been crucified yet. His second coming wasn’t happening that day. But, yet Jesus was emphatic about the urgency of now. In fact, just in the very next chapter Jesus re-iterate this urgency of now.
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Mark 14:32-41
Notice the emphasis on watching and praying when you’re following Jesus. Your focus and your stamina are critical to your relationship with God. People get so lazy. “I’m just tired. I had a long day of working and I don’t have anything left to stay alert. What in the world do you think Jesus would say about that? He’d say “Are you asleep? Couldn’t you do something for me for one hour?” Why is Jesus telling them to keep watch? Because we fall into temptation when we are not watching and praying. Keeping watch keeps us on our assigned task. Looking out for His return keeps us focused on the urgency of now. Because no one knows when the owner of the house will come back. Jesus is teaching us a critical point that we Christians should think about every day. He is coming back, but we don’t know when. So we need to be on 2 point each and every day. We can’t let days past where we do nothing for God and think it’s alright. Every day we don’t do anything with our assigned task is a day Jesus says “Are you asleep again?”
God has given each of us an assigned task. We have an assignment from God. God has put us in charge of something in His kingdom that He expects us to complete. He has assigned you a task. If you don’t know what your assigned task is, do something that expands His kingdom on the earth. Pick something that you would be passionate about that you could do for God. But the ultimate goal is to discover your assigned task and to do it with your whole self. Stop making excuses for why you’re not doing it. Let me ask a question: Why do we stop being what God created us to be? Why do we choose to be someone else for a while? And what makes us think we have time to be someone else? The time is now to be who you were assigned to be tomorrow. Because the owner of the house is coming back. Now His return may not be in your lifetime, but your assignment is. Look at it this way: there are three limits on our time—His return, our last day, and our own procrastination. The only one I know we definitely have control over is our own procrastination.
This whole biblical scene, this entire incident in time is shrouded in Jesus’ road to the Cross. After Peter, James and John fell asleep three times Jesus was immediately arrested and headed for the Cross. His time on earth was limited. There were things Jesus was going to accomplish within the limits of time. You see, the creator of time chose to limit Himself within time, drop Himself within the contextual concrete walls of time, and within the limited frame of a human being. He didn’t fly around with a cape like an Avenger. He didn’t possess super human strength. He even chose to limit his looks so as not to have the fly girl/fly boy advantage that some of us do. That’s why it’s frankly an affront to make Jesus look good in a picture because He intentionally chose to limit His appearance. Jesus was teaching us about now. He was teaching us that our limits don’t have to frame our now. Your limits don’t have to frame your now. Your limits should reveal your humility not your lack of power. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You can be whoever God created you to be. You can do whatever God assigned you to do, but know that time is always of the essence. You need to get wherever you’re going. Jesus showed us that we can get a lot done in a short period of time. He showed us that we can learn so much in such a small span of time. The disciples were with Jesus for just three years, and after those three years they were able to rapidly grow the church into an incredible movement. At that time they were very young people. I know we typically have this picture in our heads of the disciples being these middle aged people, but the reality is that the disciples were young. Jesus was perhaps the oldest one among them, and He Himself was only around 30 when they first started to follow Him.
Three times Jesus catches them sleeping. The second time Jesus caught them sleeping the disciples didn’t know what to say. The third time He catches them sleeping Jesus says “Enough! The hour has come.” When we are not watching and praying, let me tell you, the Devil is busy. Stuff is poppin’ off. It’s going down. Jesus was about to be betrayed by Judas. Everyday Jesus is being betrayed by people who are following Him. That’s your answer to the question “I’m sick of all these Christians who 3 supported that candidate for President.” Everyday Jesus is being betrayed by people who are following Him. But they’re not following Him because they love Him. They’re following Him because they hate Him. They hate the real Jesus. The only thing they want to do is take advantage of His name. That’s why we have to stay woke because the hour has come. This is a crucial point in the history of the world. There are people who want to take over this country and the world with a message of hate, all the while following Jesus close enough to be called His disciples. They sold out Jesus a long time ago for a larger church. They sold out Jesus a long time ago in order to keep their church culturally homogenous. They sold out Jesus a long time ago in order to keep American and Caribbean slavery intact for over 247 years. They sold out Jesus a long time ago to keep Jim Crow alive over 90 years, and to keep the U.S. mass incarceration complex growing for these last 40 years. They denied Jesus time after time in order to keep their church from splitting between Republican and Democrat. They won’t stand up for the poor, the oppressed, the foreigner, and the immigrant. They won’t stand against the utter abuse of women. They won’t stand up for the disabled, universal healthcare, and all the while we’re asleep. The Son of Man’s message is being delivered into the hands of sinners, of betrayers. And we have the nerve to be talking about voting for the lesser of two evils. Come on man! Stay woke. This is not the lesser of two evils. Yes, we are all sinners. Peter was a sinner, James was a sinner, John was a sinner, and the eight other disciples were sinners. But one was a betrayer. One was a Judas, a Benedict Arnold, a fake, a phony, a snake oil salesman, a charlatan, who always wanted the thirty shekels of silver over any part of Jesus.
Jesus told his disciples “You will all fall away… for it is written: “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” (Mark 14:27) The shepherd has been struck. Jesus has been betrayed all over again. And almost everything that Jesus stands for is being put to trial before Pontus Pilate, before the Supreme Court, but where are the sheep? They are scattered and sleeping. Peter declared “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” (Mark 14:29) And Mark, in what is believed to be by many John Mark’s recording of Peter’s memoirs, does an intriguing thing. Peter actually denies Jesus three times twice before the rooster crows. It’s intriguing because this is Peter’s recounting of what happened. It is Peter emphasizing what he wants you to remember about his own denial of Jesus. Peter wants you to remember that at an important point in his walk with Jesus he couldn’t keep watch. Peter wants you to know that at a vital point in his relationship with Jesus sleeping was more important than praying, so much that he couldn’t even stay woke for one hour when Jesus told him “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” When Jesus was dealing with His soon plight of being hanged from a tree, lynched by a mob, ridiculed throughout His torturous death, Peter slept through it. Jesus didn’t address James or John, though they were right there. Jesus addressed Peter. Don’t worry so much about someone else who is sleeping on their assignment, be concerned about you. Jesus’ first address is to you. Peter fell asleep three times before he denied him those three times. When you keep falling asleep on your assignment, denying Him is next. When you’re not alert and on guard, when you’re 4 not keeping watch, denying His lordship in tough times and choosing to protect yourself instead is the result. Self-preservation becomes more important than discipleship. Taking care of you becomes more important than following Him. The only way for you to take care of yourself is for you to deny Him. “But I’ve got to take care of me.” No you don’t. Let God take care of you. If you let Him, if you give into Him, if you let Him take over, God will take care of you.
“Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you.
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.”