Mark 13:33 - Living as though Jesus were Coming Today!
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Mark 13:33 (KJV)
Take ye heed. This present tense imperative calls for constant
alertness. The same is true of the verb watch, which means to keep oneself
awake. [Wycliffe Bible Commentary]
Waiting For Christmas can keep some children excited and on
their best behavior for weeks. But what if Christmas never came? To
many of us the Second Coming may seem like a Christmas that never
comes. [Quiet Time SB]
Ignorance of the exact time of his return is no excuse for not
being ready when he comes. [Jamieson, Fausset, And Brown Commentary]
The time is kept a secret, that you may be engaged to stand
always upon your guard.... watch for his coming, that it may not at any
time be a surprise to you, and pray for that grace which is necessary
to qualify you for it, for ye know not when the time is; and
which may come any day." (Matthew Henry's Commentary)
We ought to be always upon our watch, in expectation of his
return. [Matthew Henry Commentary]
We need not be concerned about when Christ returns, but about
how to live until then. [Victor Bible Reader's Companion]
We are not being instructed here to stand by the window and wait
for Christ's return; rather we are being told to live a certain kind
of life - a conscious, alert, involved life. [Life Recovery
The important thing is not watching the calendar but building
our character. We must be alert ("watch") and be found doing His
work when He comes. [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]
Jesus' final words are the ones we should study most carefully.
He tells us to be constantly alert to serve Him while we are
waiting, for He may return at any time and yearns to find us ready to
greet Him. [Victor Bible Reader's Companion]
The simple fact is that we do not know the moment that God's
"when" will be transformed into "now." God's when may be today,
tomorrow, or lie in the distant future long after we have completed our
sojourns here on earth. But these options make no difference to us at
all. What is important is that as we wait expectantly, we "watch,"
using every gift and opportunity to serve the Lord. [Victor Bible
There are three watchwords in the Christian life, which must be
heeded if we would not have Satan steal a march upon us; namely, Watch,
pray, work. Prayer and watching thereunto are necessary for
advancement in the divine life. Never was there a time in your history more
important than the present. Your only safety is to live like a watchman.
Watch and pray always. Oh, what a preventive against yielding to
temptation and falling into the snares of the world! 2T283
In consideration of the shortness of time we as a people should
watch and pray, and in no case allow ourselves to be diverted from the
solemn work of preparation for the great event before us. Because the
time is apparently extended, many have become careless and
indifferent in regard to their words and actions. They do not realize their
danger and do not see and understand the mercy of our God in
lengthening their probation, that they may have time to form characters for
the future, immortal life. Every moment is of the highest value.
Time is granted them, not to be employed in studying their own ease
and becoming dwellers on the earth, but to be used in the work of
overcoming every defect in their own characters and in helping others, by
example and personal effort, to see the beauty of holiness. God has a
people upon the earth who in faith and holy hope are tracing down the
roll of fast-fulfilling prophecy and are seeking to purify their
souls by obeying the truth, that they may not be found without the
wedding garment when Christ shall appear. 4T306,7
Jesus did not reveal when the end would come, but this should
motivate us to remain alert and watchful from now until the end. And as
we are unsure of the future of our world, we also are uncertain
concerning the timing and difficulties we will face in recovery. In
reality, we are never completely recovered; we are always in recovery. We
will experience total victory only after Jesus has returned to make
us into new people. Preparation for his return must be made one day
at a time. We cannot calculate the day of his return and plan to
change just before the final event. Our daily preparation and action
are an important key to our spiritual health and our recovery. [Life
Months of planning go into a wedding, the birth of a baby, a
career change, a speaking engagement, the purchase of a home. Do you
place the same importance on preparing for Christ's return, the most
important event in your life? Its results will last for eternity. You dare
not postpone your preparations because you do not know when his
return will occur. The way to prepare is to study God's Word and live
by its instructions each day. Only then will you be ready. [Life
We must so live that it does not matter when he comes. It gives
us the great task of making every day fit for him to see and being
at any moment ready to meet him face to face. [Barclay Commentary]
Jesus makes it clear that no one knows the time of his return
and calls all his followers to stay faithful while awaiting this
glorious event. [New Bible Companion]
We must live in a constant state of readiness. [College Press
Jesus wants His followers to evaluate turbulent times of change
(v. 33) not just from the perspective of history but even more from
the perspective of His kingdom. As believers, we are citizens of
eternity. Therefore, our confidence needs to be rooted in something far
more important than our positions and achievements here and now. It's
not that the here and now has no importance. But as we live our
lives, God wants us to be loyal workers for His kingdom, serving the
people He sends our way.
Is your significance tied too closely to achievements - building
buildings, reaching business goals, acquiring material possessions,
climbing career ladders? There's nothing inherently wrong with these. But
if you lost them, would your confidence completely crumble? If your
sense of worth depends on them, what happens when you reach the top of
the ladder, only to discover that the ladder is leaning against the
The problem is that our world has a system of values that is
upside down from the way God determines value. It lacks any sense of
what Scripture describes as "calling," or what Christians later
termed "vocation" - a perspective that God has called and equipped
people to serve Him through their work in the world. Instead, our
culture encourages us to climb a work/identity ladder that is ultimately
self-serving, and often self-destructive.
Climbing that ladder can be very misleading. The higher one
goes, the more one's identity, value, and security tend to depend on
the nature of one's work. But what happens if we lose our position,
titles, or high-level compensation? Perhaps this explains why severe
emotional problems - drug and alcohol abuse, abuse of spouse and children,
divorce, even suicide - often accompany job loss. If our significance
relies on our job, then it dies with our job.
God calls us to a far more stable basis for significance. He
wants us to establish our identity in the fact that we are His
children, created by Him to carry out good works as responsible people in
His kingdom (Eph. 2:10). This is our calling or vocation from God.
According to Scripture, our calling:
 is irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
 is from God; He wants to let us share in Christ's glory
(2 Thess. 2:14).
 is a function of how God has designed us (Eph. 2:10).
 is an assurance that God will give us everything we
need to serve Him, including the strength to remain faithful to Him
(1 Cor. 1:7-9).
 is what we should be proclaiming as our true identity
(1 Pet. 2:5, 9).
 carries us through suffering (1 Pet. 2:19-21).
 is rooted in peace, no matter what the circumstances in
which we find ourselves (1 Cor. 7:15-24).
 is focused on eternal achievements, not merely temporal
ones (Phil. 3:13-4:1).
Above all else, believers are called to character development,
service to others, and loyalty to God. These can be accomplished
wherever we live or work, whatever our occupational status or position in
society. If we pursue these, we can enjoy great satisfaction and
significance. No matter what happens on the job, we can join Paul in saying,
"We know that all things work together for good to those who love
God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom.8:28).
[Word In Life SB]