Gospel reading: Mark 13:33-37
33 Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come.34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch therefore -- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning -- 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Watch." Old Testament reading: Isaiah 63:16-17,19b; 64:1-8 63:16 For you are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. 17 O LORD, why do you make us err from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. 19 We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name. (Isaiah 63: 16-17,19) 64:1 O that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence -- 2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil -- to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! 3 When you did terrible things which we looked not for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. 5 You meet him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one that calls upon your name, that bestirs himself to take hold of you; for you have hid your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquities. 8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:1-8).
Jesus' parable about the long-expected return of the Master to his household brings this point home. Wealthy landowners often left their estates in the hands of their trusty servants and stewards. This gave them freedom to travel, trade, and expand their business ventures. They expected loyalty and hard work from their servants and rewarded them accordingly.
Dutiful servants would eargerly anticipate their master's return by keeping the house and estate in good order. Jesus doesn't tell us in his parable whether the servants were ready to receive the unexpected return of their master. Were these servants excited or anxious about their master's return? The watchful servants, no doubt, looked forward to the future because they knew their master would be pleased and would reward them for their vigilance and hard work.
Disaster and reprisal, however, awaited those who were unprepared because of carelessness or laziness. When we expect some very important event to happen, we wait for it with excited anticipation.
The Lord Jesus expects us to watch in great anticipation for the most important event of all – his return in glory at the end of time! The prophets foretold the coming of the Lord when he shall judge between the nations and decide for many peoples (Isaiah 2:5). The Advent season reminds us that we are living in the end times.
The end times begins with the first coming of Christ (his Incarnation which we celebrate at Christmas) and culminates in his final return on the Day of Judgment. Jesus spoke of his return in glory at the end of time as a for certain fact. Jesus' audience understood the title, Son of Man, as referring to the Messianic prophecy of the Annointed King who comes to establish an everlasting kingdom over the earth (see Daniel 7:13).
While the second coming is for certain, the time is unknown. The Lord's judgment comes swiftly and often unexpectedly. Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives.
It will surely come in God's good time! Do you earnestly pray for God's kingdom to come – here and now! The prophet Isaiah tells us that God will surely reward those who wait for his visitation: "From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him" (Isaiah 64:4).
Our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, entrusts us with his gifts and grace and he expects to be ready for action and prepared for the future.
Our call is not only believe, but to watch with expectant faith; not only to love, but to wait with eager longing; not only to obey, but to prepare with joyful anticipation! What are we to watch, wait, and prepare for?
The greatest event to come – the return of our Master and Lord Jesus Christ when he comes again in glory to meet us at the end of the age. The kind of watching our Lord has in mind is not a passive "wait and see what happens" approach to life. The Lord urges us to vigilance and to active prayer that his "kingdom may come" and his "will be done on earth as it is in heaven".
We are not only to watch for Christ, but to watch with Christ. The Lord wants us to have our hearts and minds fixed on him and his word. He wants us to be ready for his action and grace in our lives and in our world. Those who "wait" for the Lord will not be disappointed.
He will surely come with his grace and saving help. Do you watch for the Lord's action in your life with expectant faith and with joyful hope?
The season of Advent is a time for rousing our minds and hearts for the Lord's coming. As his servants we watch for his will – continually seeking him; we watch for his word and his power – that he may act now to save and to deliver; and we watch for his visitation – he will surely come again! Servants of the Lord rouse yourselves! Be vigilant, be alert, be "watchmen" for the Lord pointing the way for his coming.
Are you ready to meet the Lord?