Mark 13:32-37 32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. 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 stay awake. 35 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— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
In the shadow of the cross, just before His crucifixion, Jesus teaches His disciples about the future. Jesus Christ came to this world in the flesh the first time, over 2,000 years ago, to provide for our salvation. Jesus died upon a cross to pay the penalty of our sin and to save all who are willing to repent and believe in Him. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we can find forgiveness for our sins and the power to overcome sin. But one day in the future Jesus Christ will return to judge all the nations who have rejected Him. Those who deny Him will fear Him when He comes but for those of us who love Him, we will rejoice that our salvation will be revealed in full! One day in the future all sin and evil and the curse of the fall will be removed and Jesus Christ will reveal His perfect eternal kingdom in new heavens and a new earth!
As Jesus speaks of His second coming here in Mark 13:32-37, He repeats Himself multiple times: “Stay awake!” He is emphasizing the need to be ready and prepared for His coming. The truth is that apart from being born again by the Spirit of God the sinner is asleep in his or her sin. When a person enters into this world as a baby they are physically alive but spiritually dead. They can understand the world around them through their five senses but they cannot understand God. Because of the sin nature inherited from their first parents, Adam and Eve, they cannot have fellowship with God and they are unaware of the actual condition of their heart. The sinner is asleep in their sin. As Richard Baxter wrote in 1673, “The sinner has eyes and sees not, and ears but hears not, and a heart that understands not, nor feels anything.”
Not only is the sinner actually asleep but the great enemy of God, the devil, will do all that he can to keep the sinner asleep. He will do all that he can to bring the sinner into a deep sleep- a sleep so deep that even if the sinner reads the Word of God or hears the Gospel message they will never lay it to heart. Richard Baxter also writes, “The devil is awake and is rocking your cradle! None of your enemies are asleep and yet will you sleep, in the thickest of your foes? While he can keep you asleep, the devil can do almost what he likes with you.”
Not only does the sinner sleep under the care and control of the devil but they also remain under the judgment of God unaware of what awaits them. Richard Baxter says, “You sleep in irons, in the captivity of the devil, among the walking judgments of God, in a life that is still expecting an end, in a boat that is swiftly carried to eternity, just at the entrance of another world; and that world will be hell, if grace does not awake you: you are going to see the face of God, to see the world of angels or devils, and to be accompanied with one of them forever; and is this a place or case to sleep in? Is your bed so soft? Your dwelling place so safe? God stands over you, man, and do you sleep? Christ is coming and death is coming, and judgment is coming, and do you sleep?”
For those who are moved by the Holy Spirit, they have been awakened from their sleep and Christ has shone upon them (Eph. 5:14). They have come to experience the grace of God and are anxiously awaiting the second coming of Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior! They will be among those who are waiting ready for their Lord whom they love with all of their heart! They will persevere to the end and will not be surprised at His coming! They will stay awake!
The deception is that there are also those who will appear to have been awakened to the Gospel and who will appear to be awake (at least for a season). They may even be on fire for God but for one reason or another they fall back asleep. It may be the cares of this world or persecution or a lack of true understanding of the Gospel. It may be a false repentance or simply a desire to “try Christianity” or an attempt to imitate what they see in a person they admire. But the reality is that such a person will not remain awake when the Lord returns. They have been or will be lulled back to sleep by the devil and do not know the love of Jesus Christ. They may still believe they are awake and yet they are asleep. Such is the warning that Jesus gives. Such was the case with one of the twelve disciples. Judas Iscariot seemed to be awake but he fell back asleep and was used by the devil to betray Jesus.
But one day in the future all will be awakened including the sinner and the false convert. Richard Baxter goes on to say, “If you will not soon awake, death and vengeance will awake you. You will wake when you see the other world, and see the things which you would not believe, and come before your dreadful Judge! ‘Your destruction is not asleep.’ (2 Peter 2:3) There are no sleepy souls in heaven or hell, all are awake there: and the day that has awakened so many shall awaken you. Watch, then if you love your soul, unless the Lord comes suddenly and finds you sleeping.”
Today is Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many years ago the God-man Jesus Christ died the most cruel death imaginable to man as He was crucified and then buried in a tomb. On the cross He died for you and for me. On the cross He declared, “It is finished.” Then, on the Lord’s Day He awoke from the dead. He walked out of that tomb and He lives forevermore! Have you yet been awakened by Jesus Christ or are you yet asleep? Did you wake up this morning rejoicing in what Jesus Christ has done for you or does this event in history mean nothing to you? Seek Him while He may be found. Turn to Him before it is too late. Beware of the devil who is doing all that He can to prevent you from coming to know the love of Jesus Christ. And believe in the power of Jesus Christ to keep you awake. He is able to bring you to the end ready for His return! He is able to keep you for Himself when all you may have known before is failure and despair! You can be made free from the bondage of the devil! Jesus Christ alone has the power to save you and to save me! He overcame the grave! Even now He desires nothing more than for you to know His enduring love! Awake! Stay awake!
Pastor Murray Hack