“On Your Mark”
Nobody Knows the Time (Chapter 13 V 1-37)
The Lord returns to the original question (vv28-31), when will these things happen (v4)? The accent is on proximity, it is close, imminent, says Jesus, when you see the Temple sacrilege (v29), and following hard on its heels will come judgment. Just as the coming of summer is imminent with the leafing of the fig tree. So when you see the appalling sacrilege of the Temple, that is the signal, be ready, bags packed, travelling light, no comb, no toothbrush, just get out. The affirmation (v30) refers to the prophetic announcement made regarding Jerusalem (v2), which will be witnessed by the disciple’s contemporaries. All that has been affirmed here by Jesus is reaffirmed (v31), because all that may be said of God, may be said of Jesus, he is the Messiah, the Son God, Son of Man, who knows and declares here that his word has more durability than the heavens and the earth. The latter, the heavens and the earth, in the end, will be cataclysmically destroyed, but not, never Jesus and his words (Psalm 102.25-27; Isaiah 40.6-8; 51.6). So Jesus applies all he has said with a very solemn call to be vigilant (vv32-37). Now he knows, he has told them, given them the signal for the coming judgment on Jerusalem, but now he speaks of the coming of the Son of Man, the end. No one knows when, not even the Son (v32; Acts 1.6-7). It will come so suddenly, so unexpectedly that vigilance and confident faith are required of the Church at all times. The coming of the Son with his holy angels and the consequent judgment are irrevocably set by the Father. Simply the sovereign decision of the Father. He will one day, one moment turn to his Son who is at his right hand and say, “go my Son, finish it”.
So (vv33-36), see to it, that your eyes are open, wide awake and alert, praying unceasingly in true faith (v33). We have been left with responsibility (v34), we have been given gifts and graces, we have been left work to do in the household of Jesus’ Church, and all the time we should be doing it with an eye to the Lord returning. Now there are many people who are so sure they know just exactly when the Lord is going to return, so sure that they cannot think or talk about anything else. Well Jesus says you do not (v35). Are you listening to him, you do not! The dullness and lack of responsive spirituality of our day suggests some are asleep (v36). The warning is given to all Jesus followers not just those of his own day, or the Apostles. To us, Jesus says. “watch and pray” (v37)!
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)