After resting Monday night in Bethany, Jesus and His disciples returned to Jerusalem. Mark’s gospel records an incident on the way, and several scenes of teaching, including the well-known Olivet Discourse.
Here’s a helpful breakdown of what happened1 on Tuesday:
- Disciples see the withered fig tree as they return to Jerusalem (Matt. 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-21)
- Controversies in the Temple (Matt. 21:23-23:39; Mark 11:27-12:44; Luke 20:1-21:4)
- Olivet Discourse on the return to Bethany (Matt. 24:1-25:46; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36)
I will focus today on Mark 13:32-37 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.  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 stay awake.  Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.  And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (ESV)
What is Jesus teaching through this text?
Jesus and His disciples were up on the Mount of Olives, looking down on the Temple Mount after a day of testing and teaching there. The disciples had been amazed at the structure and buildings of the Temple. Yet when Jesus told them that soon not one stone would be left on another there, they wanted to understandably learn more! That’s what resulted in what is now called the “Olivet Discourse.” Jesus taught them on the Mount of Olives, the site of His future return to the earth, what the end of time would look like. There would be the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (which did happen around AD 70), but there would also be tribulation and cosmic destruction that would precede the coming of Jesus in power and glory. Jesus said His disciples could count on these things happening, for He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31).
But, regarding the time when Jesus will return, no one knows except the Father and now the Son who sits at His right hand glorified. For now, Jesus commands all His disciples to “stay awake.”
How can we apply this text?
- No one has ever or can today predict the timing of our Lord’s return. “Not even the angels in heaven” know, and end times predictions so far made by others have not proven true.
- But this doesn’t mean I shouldn’t focus on the end times! What matters is what aspect of the end times I focus on. It’s not the antichrist, wars, famine, pestilence and plague, death or nature dismantling around us. The focus on the end times is Jesus Himself. For where He is His people will be.
- So, do I live today with expectation and longing for Jesus to return? “To love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength and to love ones neighbor as oneself is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33). Loving Him and seeking Him out with all my being is what pleases my Lord in end times matters, and especially in this time.
Prayer He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:20–21, ESV)
1. Crossway is currently offering free access to their ESV Study Bible. To access the Harmony of the Holy Week Chart, simply sign up for that resource, and even more, from Crossway.