Mark 13

In this chapter Jesus speaks about what will happen before He returns. 
Some of the thoughts offered in Mark 13 require careful thought.  Jesus is speaking of the End of Days, that time when He will return to collect the faithful and usher them into heaven.   There are several hypothesis about the sequence of those events, and each one has some biblical reference used to support it.  However, none of them can be conclusively proven based solely on Scripture, and I think God intended it that way.  He says here “no one knows the day or the hour except my Father” so we aren’t going to be able to pinpoint the time of God’s return.   We can, however, take notice of the events that lead up to it, and live with a heightened awareness.
Jesus warns us in this passage not to be found “sleeping” when the Master arrives.  He isn’t speaking of literal sleep, he’s talking about being spiritually asleep.  Since he is speaking to his disciples, who are faithful followers we can apply these same words to ourselves…since we are faithful followers also.   They don’t apply to the unsaved.  The unsaved aren’t “asleep” they are “lost”, and there is a difference.   Those who are spiritually “asleep” are Christians who have stopped being obedient.  They aren’t making disciples, they aren’t becoming more like Christ themselves, they aren’t studying, praying or serving.  When you are asleep you lack activity…and that’s what Jesus is referring to.   In the closing lines of this passage He illustrates the concept with the story of master who gives his servants tasks before leaving on a long journey.   In the same way, Jesus has given us a task; it is found in Matthew 28, called “the Great Commission”.  Every church is aware of it, and many churches include it in their mission statements.  The Great Commission says “Go and make disciples of all nations… teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”  Although we are all aware of our mission, few actually do what they agree they should be doing.
Instead, we get caught up in other activities like politics or social issues.  Even closer to home, we spend time putting a new coat of paint on the classrooms and planting flowers around the buildings we construct.  Sure, none of these things are bad, but they aren’t the mission.  And if they aren’t done in a way that supports the mission then we are asleep.
Let me explain a little further (even though you probably don’t need me to).   I can advertise, plan for and conduct a wonderful Vacation Bible School and have 100 children attend.  There can be wonderful decorations, fun games, delicious food and lots of prizes and crafts…and when it is over everyone can say “that was the best VBS ever…I just love that Church”   AND, the church could still be fast asleep.  How? You ask.  Simple.     If I don’t use the opportunity to teach the children about heaven and hell, free will and repentance and forgiveness and what it means to live for Jesus, I fail in accomplishing the mission.   If I don’t share with the parents, students and staff alike how much Jesus loves them and wants them to be with him in heaven forever…and show them how to be reunited with Jesus, I am not accomplishing my mission.    It’s possible to do both…and that’s what I encourage our church to do.   Make it fun, make it beautiful, make it something everyone talks about…but make sure you accomplish the mission while you’re doing it.   We don’t want the Master to return and find us asleep.
The same concept is true for buildings, planning worship, painting classrooms or taking care of the property.   It’s the same for social justice and caring for the needy.  You can provide physical food and forget to share the Gospel (in some way…as you go) and be “asleep”.     
Hey, this post is gettting long….and I wanted to toss out a phrase I noticed this morning.  It’s found in verse 24  “after the anguish of those days…”   Jesus clearly says here that the times are so terrible that they are shortened because otherwise no one would survive.  That sounds a lot like the tribulation, doesn’t it?    And then Jesus says “after the anguish of those days” he returns to take us home.   This passage suggests that the rapture will happen after the tribulation.  I have always been taught that it happens before the tribulation…but that’s not what I see here!
How could knowing that you will be here for the tribulation change the way you view your Christian life?   Would it affect the way you are preparing?  Would it change what you are teaching your children and grandchildren about what they should do?   How would it change your thoughts about suffering and persecution and how they are balanced by a God who loves us without limit?
Looking forward to heaven,