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Turn Off Your Device(s) and… WATCH!

June 16, 2021·Dan Hicks

Mark 13:35-37

“Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face, there to sing forever of His saving grace.
On the streets of glory let me lift my voice, cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice.”

As a boy growing up, it was my favorite hymn, found on page 58 in The Foursquare Hymnal. I recall how my imagination created for me such an expectation of Jesus’ coming again. It is one which remains with me (perhaps more so) today than even 60 years ago.

In these closing verses of Mark 13 (this week’s Pause Bible reading), Jesus is talking about the intervening time between His first and second comings. He says no one knows when it will be that He comes back again. But He provides a picture of what it would be like, this “intervening time.” It’s like a man who goes on a journey and leaves his servants with work to do, expecting they will. And then he sets a doorkeeper to keep watch.

The question that begs an answer is: “What is the doorkeeper to watch for?”

The typical way this passage is interpreted is that the doorkeeper is to watch for the master’s return. I don’t disagree with that, but I think there’s something else we should consider.

After a lifetime of watching and waiting for Jesus to come back, I’ve become persuaded that Jesus is talking about something else here. Yes, we should be expecting, even watching for Jesus to come back. The end of Revelation reminds us, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”  However, as you read this entire chapter of Mark in context, you discover early that Jesus is concerned about His followers being deceived (Mark 13:5, 6, 22).

I think the servant in the story is to watch, so no one will deceive him and through that deception gain access to the house and ruin all that belongs to the master. In Mark 13, Jesus tells us that during the “intervening time” there are temptations, cultural pressures that will assault us to make us think that everything we have known about Jesus’ coming again is a lie. The intent is obvious… to make us give up, to stop living as Christ followers, to throw in the towel when it comes to our faith, and ultimately to stop believing the truth of God, i.e., the (ABC) persuasion in culture: Anything But Christ, Anything But Church, Anything But Christian. It’s this kind of thing I believe the Lord Jesus is warning against.

So, He instructs us to keep awake, to watch. Do not believe the voices that insist the world will go on forever, as it is presently. Do not believe the voices that tell you there’s no God, so just go ahead and live as you want to. And don’t believe the great deception of our day, which suggests that if God exists, He will never judge us.

In my title to this devotional, I suggest we “turn off our devices.” Certainly, there is a literal application for many of us, but for all of us, the point is, be alert to the distractions and deceptions in life. So, Jesus ends His message with a single word, “WATCH!”

I remain committed to watching for the deceptions, and by the way, “Oh, I want to see Him!”

Pastor Dan Hicks

The Church on the Way