Are we ‘PRAYERFULLY WATCHING’ for the RETURN of JESUS CHRIST? “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning-- lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:33-37)
The above parable from Jesus regarding the absent master of the house is unique to the Gospel of Mark. The master of the house gives specific responsibilities to his servants along with the adequate authority to carry out their tasks. This has a striking resemblance to the Great Commission that Jesus gave to all His disciples before He went away to a ‘far country’ (‘heaven’), which is as follows: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
In the above parable, the master of the house had commanded the doorkeeper who was guarding his house to watch out for any intruder from breaking in while he was away. On his part, he could return anytime, even in the night during any of the four watches: the first watch - evening (6 to 9 p.m.), the second watch - midnight (9 p.m. to midnight), the third watch - rooster crowing (midnight to 3 a.m.), and the fourth watch - dawn (3 to 6 a.m.). The doorkeeper may be compared to anyone in spiritual leadership who are responsible for teaching, guiding and mentoring other people.
The key of this parable is the fact that since it is unknown when the master returns to the house, the doorkeeper must stay awake and be alert at all times. The servants have received their instructions and are to faithfully perform them until their master returns. So, all the servants must be vigilant, and the house doorkeeper must be watchful and waiting for the house master’s return at all times (Luke 19:11–27). The servants may be compared to all the believers and followers of Christ who have been mandated with fulfilling ‘The Great Commission’.
Thus, Jesus has likened Himself to the master of the house who is traveling, and has assured His people (us) that He will soon return. So He left this word for all His people - “watch and pray” - which extend even to this present hour! This parable reveals the need for constant alertness through prayerful watching from our lives at all times. In light of the certainty of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should be doing our tasks responsibly and be ready at all times for the rapture of the church that may happen at any moment.
The imminence of Christ’s return should stimulate a new realization of the temporal nature of this life. Enough signs have been fulfilled that Christ could come today. We must always be ready, and our task is to watch prayerfully. Watching for the return of Jesus Christ does not mean that we should idly speculate about the time of His coming. Neither does it give us the license to neglect our earthly responsibilities, but we should “be alert and keep praying!” We should be found faithful when He comes, and He could come even today!
As believers, we are citizens of eternity, and so our confidence should be rooted in something far more important than our positions and achievements here and now. As we live our lives, God wants us to be loyal workers for His kingdom until He returns. God wants us to carry out good works as responsible people in His kingdom (Eph. 2:10). According to Scripture, our calling should be focused on eternal achievements, not merely temporal ones (Phil. 3:13–4:1). Let us serve others while being loyal to the great task that Jesus has given us before He left this earth. Above all else, let us prayerfully watch for the return of our Lord and Master Jesus every day!