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Wake Up!

Mark   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:31
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Good morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. It is our privilege and blessing that you would join us today. Please open your Bibles with me back to Mark 13, Mark 13. We are actually going to finish this amazing chapter today. And you’re going to hear me say something that you haven’t heard me say much over the last couple of weeks - these sayings and this parable are about something specific.
Over the last few weeks as we have navigated our way through this prophetic teaching of Jesus, we have taken - well I have taken the position - that Jesus has been speaking about both the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and the coming days of tribulation that will herald the end of the age. But here in this morning’s passage Christ is clearly speaking solely of the moment of His glorious return that all of us are anxiously anticipating.
And after this week I’m certainly looking forward to it. I hate having to preface comments like this - but this is not a political statement. America was not a Godly nation last week and it is not a more Godly nation this week. And we may have a slightly less despicable leader this week but with the policies that are being enacted with lightning speed we are a more despicable nation. With executive orders already signed or planned with respect to gender, sexual orientation and abortion and more to follow no one can say that we are not a despicable nation. Now I’ve probably gotten myself into trouble with some of you - let me tell you what I’m not saying clearly so we can all understand. Trump was not the savior. Biden is not the savior. Jesus is the savior. And we need to get away from being dis-unified over humans and being unified in our service to our true King and Savior Jesus Christ.
That’s one of the points of this text - we have a King, we have a Master who has charged us with serving Him. How are we doing? This morning should be a time of reflection as we look at this text and as we ask ourselves - am I asleep on the watch? Am I asleep in my duties that I’ve been charged with by my King? Read with me Mark 13:32-37 and let’s see what Jesus has to say to us today.
Mark 13:32–37 CSB
“Now concerning that day or hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son—but only the Father. “Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming. “It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his servants, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know when the master of the house is coming—whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. Otherwise, when he comes suddenly he might find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!”
When it comes to expository preaching R.C. Sproul said there is only one way to interpret a text and there may be 10,000 ways to apply the text. We’re going to look at what the text means first (interpretation) and then the bulk of the sermon is how should that meaning impact our lives today. When we get to that part we’ll be looking at the role of a servant and how that impacts our roles as Christians in society at this moment in history. We’ll be examining the three statements that Jesus makes regarding a servant in this text - those being that a servant has authority, a servant has a task and a servant is committed. That will be our outline as we look at this parable that Jesus tells to wrap up His answer to His disciples as to when these things would happen.
But before we get to that outline we have to deal with and explain the proverbial “elephant in the text” that is contained in verse 32. Read with me again.
Mark 13:32 CSB
“Now concerning that day or hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son—but only the Father.
Does that strike you as odd? That neither the angels - not really that odd - nor the Son. Wait, the Son of God - the One we tout as being God Himself - does not know the day or the hour of His own second coming? This verse has been a challenge for conservative believers and the desire to uphold Christ as being the divine Son of God. It has also been used as a rallying point for liberal who seek to disprove the deity of Christ as they say that He cannot possibly be omniscient (a requirement of God and a core attribute of His nature) if He admits to not knowing the timing of His return. So He must be just another human.
But notice here that it is the very absurdity of the statement and its presence in the text that points to the validity of the statement. For the early church the challenge was to convince the world that Jesus was divine. To include this statement would have been an embarrassment to a fledgling religion. In fact it is the absurdity of the statement that makes it so believable from a completely absurd system. If you sat down to write a religious book and had a thousand years to do so - the Bible is not what you would come up with. It reveals too many failures. It reveals too many warts. It’s message from the human standpoint isn’t very uplifting - now hear me a moment on that - that we are completely incapable of accomplishing salvation on our own is not an uplifting message. It is only from the divine standpoint - it is only when we realize that the Bible is not really about us except as ancillary players on a grand stage dominated by One - that the Bible’s grandeur and majesty becomes clear.
The absurdity grows even deeper as this is the only place in all of Mark that Jesus explicitly refers to Himself as the Son. And as He does so He also admits that the Son of God is limited in some way - it makes no actual sense.
So what’s the point? Why does He say this? The point of the verse is really not about Christ at all but rather about two things - the perfect knowledge of the Father and as an introduction to the conclusion of what Jesus has been saying to His disciples all along that they need to be watchful. The Father’s perfect knowledge of the future is taught in Isaiah 46:10
Isaiah 46:10 CSB
I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: my plan will take place, and I will do all my will.
as well as Zechariah 14:7
Zechariah 14:7 CSB
It will be a unique day known only to the Lord, without day or night, but there will be light at evening.
Notice also that this verse from Zechariah says that it will be a unique day known only to the Lord.
Ultimately though I believe that Christ, at this moment, did not know the day. As part of His kenosis - which is a theological word for Jesus willingly surrendering or setting aside His divine attributes and coming as a human - Jesus set aside for the time certain of His attributes and a part of that seems to be the omniscience of God. Were there times when Jesus knew things that there was no human explanation for Him to know - yes. At the close of John 2 the apostle writes “While He was in Jerusalem during the Passover Festival, many believed in His name when they saw the signs He was doing. Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man.”
He also states in John 5:30 that He can do nothing on His own but rather submits to the will of the Father “I can do nothing on my own. I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Earlier in Mark we saw how Jesus was submissive to the Spirit’s guidance as He was driven into the desert by the Spirit following His baptism. So at this moment, Jesus is simply giving an example of His submission to the Father’s guidance and determination of the coming day. I also don’t think that it means that He doesn’t now know - look quickly at Acts 1:7 and notice the change in language.
Acts 1:7 CSB
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.
Gone is the humble statement that no one knows, not even the angels or the Son. Instead the focus is on the disciples knowing the future - I think the case can be made that Christ, having the constraints of His kenosis removed after the resurrection, now knows fully all the divine thoughts and plans of His Father.
Jesus now reiterates the admonition that He has delivered throughout this discourse - Watch. First His admonition was a warning against being beguiled by false teachers. Then His warning was to be on guard and aware of the days when they would be hauled before tribunals for the name of Christ. The third time comes at the end of His teaching on the days yet to come, the days of tribulation that would herald the coming of the Son of Man coming on the clouds. Now again Jesus tells His disciples to be on watch. To be alert. Because they didn’t know when the time would come.
Christ closes His teaching with a parable to instruct His disciples on the actions they should take and through this instruction delivers to us in the modern church our marching orders as His servants. Look back with me at the parable
Mark 13:34–36 CSB
“It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his servants, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know when the master of the house is coming—whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. Otherwise, when he comes suddenly he might find you sleeping.
We find three principles in this parable for us - a servant has authority, a servant has a task and a servant is committed.

A Servant Has Authority

Do you recognize who you are? In many ways the church has forgotten exactly who we are. Many are reeling under the constant onslaught of the news cycle, the liberal agenda that is moving the world full tilt toward the days of Noah, the isolation that is the result of a virus that seems to continue to defy every attempt at beating it and the lingering affects of a virulent, violent election season. And I’ll admit that in some ways I’m one of them. We live in a nation that just a few days ago celebrates the 48th anniversary of one of the most wicked judgements ever handed down by a court. We live in a world where the ability to have an abortion is celebrated - the videos of the celebrations that took place in Brazil recently by the women who are now free to kill their own unborn children are sickening.
Talking with Zac, the pastor of the Rock on Friday, he quoted … that if God does not do something with America for our sins over the last 48 years then He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. Sixty million - can you even fathom how large that number is? Sixty million killed in a holocaust in the last 48 years and it is celebrated.
There is great excitement over the appointment of Rachel Levine as the assistant secretary of health. One of President Biden’s first executive orders was the Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. Included in that order is this declaration “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, locker room or school”. This policy would continue to foist upon our children not only the notion that they have the ability to choose what gender they are but also would allow boys to compete on girl’s sports teams. And let me tell you - I don’t care whose name is on the paper, I don’t care what political party they claim…this is evil. And it is a blatant rebellion against God and the order that He has set in place.
And many Christians sit by idly and watch. Or we huddle in our little circles thinking if we just circle the wagons tight enough that we’ll be okay. We put our hope in something other than God and decide that that entity - whatever that entity is - will save them. We come to church, we sit nicely in our pews or seats, we sing our songs and then we go home and keep our heads down hoping that nothing will come our way. We have forgotten just exactly who we are.
We are the heirs to the greatest legacy ever. We walk in the footsteps of Jones, Moody, Spurgeon, Latimer, Ridley, Luther, Calvin, Hus, Tertullian, Athanasius, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, David, Abraham and millions of others. Katherine Von Bora, wife of Martin Luther, Susanna Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, Ann Judson, Susanna Wesley and so many other matriarchs of the faithful. But it’s more than just these human believers, these paragons and pillars of the faith. We are ambassadors for the very Son of God.
He said “All authority has been given to me in Heaven and on earth.” And the authority that He has, He has transferred to us. We can stand just like the prophets and say “Thus says the Lord” - and yet often we offer platitudes and equivocations. Our source of authority is Christ. Our quotable authority is the Bible.
The only way that change is going to take place is through the application of the authority of God on this world. The true Christ - not the one who is going to help you with your problems or be your guidance counselor to help you figure out what you should do with your life. But the crucified and bloodied Savior hung on a tree so that the one enemy that can not be beaten - the power of sin in your life - would be vanquished and that you might be right with God. Speaking this week at the National Founders Conference Voddie Baucham said this “People love Jesus as long as we’re not too clear about who He is.”
I can tell you this friends, beloved, the lukewarm church age is over. The day when church was just something you did, something you attended is gone. Steve Lawson recently said “Cultural Christianity is dying. Either you are a Christian or not. No faking it anymore.”
Have you forgotten who you are? Have you forgotten how much authority you have as a believer? Paul writes in Colossians 2:10
Colossians 2:10 CSB
and you have been filled by him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
You have been filled by Christ and you carry with you His authority - the master of the house has gone away but He has not left His house untended and weak. He has left it in our hands - and He has given each of us a task to do.

A Servant Has a Task

Jesus tells His disciples that the master of the house not only gave His servants authority but that He set each of them a task. There are some who look at this as if all of us are meant to be doorkeepers - that part of the command to be watchful is that we are to be watching at the door for the day that the Savior returns. But here is the issue I take with that - servants is plural and doorkeeper is singular. Now some will say that is thin - and I would agree. But lets look at a more timely example - when the President is delivering a State of the Union Address and the chamber of Congress is full, are all of the congressmen standing at the door waiting to open it? No. There is one guy there with one job - to be ready and announce when the President is about to come through the door. It is the same with us. We are not all doorkeepers - we have tasks that need to be completed. And to not complete them is not only disrespectful to the One who gave them to us but it is also open rebellion against Him.
Puritan John Owen said this “ God has work to do in this world, and to desert it because of its difficulties and entanglements is to cast off his authority. Universal holiness is required of us, that we may do the will of God in our generation. It is not enough that we be just, that we be righteous, and walk with God in holiness, but we must also serve our generation as David did before he fell asleep. God has a work to do, and not to help him is to oppose him.”
I said this last week but it bears repeating - the death toll of this pandemic is above 300,000 now in the United States and the incoming administration is forecasting more than 500,000 deaths before the end of February. Now we can spend time arguing over whether or not every single one of those is actually a COVID related death - but who cares. 300,000 plus souls died - and how many of them died without Christ. How many of them right this moment are being tormented in Hell because Christians were too timid to witness to them. Now I’ll stipulate again - I know that God is sovereign over salvation but He uses our witness to effect it. Do you all know how to recognize one of the elect because I don’t.
The thing is that in some ways we’ve got our priorities all out of focus. When Bekah was going to nursing school she had a study partner who was a very accomplished pro surfer. The whole reason she was in nursing school was that the schedule of a nurse would allow her more time to surf. She structured her whole life around the sport. What if we actually structured our whole life around what impact we could make for the Kingdom? Now I’m not saying that you should all quit your jobs and go to nursing school. I’m also not saying that you should cut hours or any other extreme measure (although if your main priority is how much money you can make and how big your bank account is or how high you can climb the corporate ladder then you may need another conversation) that would cause financial or dietary distress because you can’t pay your bills or all you can afford to feed your family is top ramen.
But think about it - how much of an impact could be made for the Kingdom if we simply committed to witnessing to one person a week. I asked this last week - and don’t raise your hands - but how many of you have shared your faith with anyone in the last week? The last month? The last year? Ever? And I’m not talking about talking about your faith with another believer over a cup of coffee…I’m talking an intentional evangelistic conversation. Not comfortable in front of a person? There is an app for that. There are lots of apps for blind conversations with thousands of bored people (one is actually called bored chat) looking to chat. Granted there are some safety precautions - but you can get into a Gospel conversation even on that.
What about your social media - how many posts about politics have you posted and how many have you posted about Christ? And the harder question is what do those political posts say about you and your Christianity when you do post about Christ? Are you helping your witness or harming it?
What about here at the church? How are you serving the body of believers, the family that God has made you a part of? Or are you content to come, sit in the seats and go home? What ministry are you supporting outside of Sunday mornings? What ministry might God be prompting you to start? I’m one person and while I’d like to do it all I can’t. What is there that the Lord has equipped you for and is opening up the opportunity for you to get involved in?
We have all been given a task - and I’ll admit that sometimes, rare times, that task might be sitting on the sidelines to get refreshed. But some have been sitting on the sidelines for a long time and it’s time to get back in the game. The Savior who called you and redeemed you will test your commitment.

A Servant Is Committed

When I was in the Navy there was no crime greater than sleeping on watch. I remember on my third ship we had a young man who was tasked with an armed watch roving the ship while we were in port. He carried an M-4 automatic rifle and he was supposed to roam the ship making sure there were no fires, flooding or anything else negative happening. One night while he was on watch - it was one of the later watches - he walked down into the galley and mess deck area (where we would eat) and sat down in a booth. He was found there completely asleep the next morning with a loaded rifle there next to him.
Casting Crowns released a Christmas album a few years ago with a rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem. The last chorus says “America [let me fix that for them - church] what will we miss while we are sleeping. Will Jesus come again and leave us slumbering where we lay. Church, will we go down in history as servants with no room for its King, [I have to fix this again - as servants who were unprepared for their King’s arrival] will we be sleeping, will we be sleeping.
Jesus warns His disciples to be wary during every watch of the night. He says that they would not know when the master of the house is coming - whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. These are the four three-hour watches of the night that the Roman system had in place rather than the 3 four hour watches of the Jewish religion. Mark is writing to the church in Rome and so he uses the Roman watches as the example. But notice that all of these are late night watches - when I was in the Navy these were always the hardest watches to stand. You would be up and busy all day and then as night falls you would have to grab a few hours of sleep and then try and stay awake and alert through the watch you were assigned. And it was always hardest just before the break of dawn - the night truly was darker and the time just seemed to drag on.
It has been 2000 years since Christ ascended off that hilltop outside of Jerusalem and I can’t help but wonder how many of us have been lulled to sleep by the seeming dragging on of history. How we’ve become complacent in our duties as His servants because the hour is late and we aren’t as vigilant as we should be.
Take note of Christ’s final words to His disciples though - what I say to you, I say to everyone - even you believers in 2021 - Be alert.

Conclusion

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