Mark 13 & 14 (Thursday)
The thirteenth chapter of Mark finds Jesus teaching his disciples on the Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem. Jesus is teaching his disciples about the tribulations that are to come and his second coming. He ends with this admonition in 13:35-37…
“Therefore, be on the alert – for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning – in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”
Jesus begins and ends his command with “be on the alert.” In fact, Jesus says “be on the alert” in verses 33, 34, 35, and 37. For Mark’s audience, this is like shining the spotlight on the words while fading everything else to black. Like we covered earlier this week, the gospel was meant to be heard and hearing the same phrase back to back like this is a sign that it should be held onto.
Now, let’s jump just ahead a bit to Mark 14:32. We’ve been through the Last Supper and Jesus has taken his disciples to Gethsemane. He picks his three favorites (Peter, James, & John) and takes them a bit further than the rest. He says to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.”
You ready for this? Jesus is using the exact same word as he did back in chapter 13. It’s even in the same tense! The word is gregoreo by the way (like gregarious). It’s a command directed directly at his listener. Jesus was asking his disciples to do something much more than just stay awake. He was pointing them back to what they had heard the night before: to be alert because the end is approaching.
In fact, when Jesus returns to find his disciples sleeping the first and second time, he repeats this same command to them, gregoreo! Stay alert! But upon his third visit he says it is enough, the time is now here. In Mark 13, Jesus commands his disciples to be alert so that they may be prepared for the (ultimate) end, but in Mark 14, when the (immediate) end comes, they are asleep at their post and ultimately all leave him and flee (14:50).
This is not just a word by Jesus for his disciples but a word for us today as well. Like the chorus in a Greek play, Mark’s words in 13:37, “What I say to you I say to all…” is a clear calling out to us here today. Be on the alert for the end is coming and we must be prepared. We must be prepared to face our own crucifixion – to die each day as a living sacrifice – as our own immediate ends in service, love, and sacrifice for others. It is the cup we are called to bear as followers of the one who showed us the way.
OK – tomorrow is the big finale! Mark’s last words to the earliest followers of Christ. It’s a shocking, amazing, inspiring vision of Jesus’ ministry.