Summary: Watching for the Lord's return doesn't mean looking up to the sky; it means looking around to show God's love to those who need Him.
This is the third and final message in the miniseries from Mark 13 entitled “Jesus’ Extended Forecast.” Jesus wasn’t predicting the weather; He was predicting the future. In this chapter, He gives us some important details about His second coming.
The early church lived in anticipation of the return of the Lord. They had a word they used to greet each other and say farewell that reflected this anticipation. The word was maran atha, which was Aramaic for “Lord, Come!” When Paul signed off his second letter to the Corinthians, his last word was maranatha! We’ve found this word is other early church writings. So when the believers gathered they didn’t always say, “Shalom.” They would greet and part by saying, “Maranatha, Brother or Maranatha, Sister.” “The Lord is coming!”
I heard about a Baptist preacher who was talking about this to his congregation on a Sunday morning. And he said, “Let’s try that. Tonight when you come back to the evening worship, let’s greet each other with the word ‘Maranatha.’ Don’t say, ‘Hi’ or ‘Good evening,’ instead let’s greet each other by saying, ‘Maranatha, brother’ or ‘Maranatha, sister.’”
That evening a couple of older ladies were walking toward the pastor in the parking lot. They were trying to remember the special greeting of the evening, but were struggling to remember the word. One of them remembered just in time. So she walked up to the pastor and smiled and said, “Marijuana, brother!”
That wasn’t it. So instead, we say, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”
In Matthew 13, Jesus reaches the climax of His prophecy when He predicts His return, and then He begins to talk about the conditions present when He returns. So to get a running start let’s begin reading where we finished in the last message in Mark 13:26.
“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Mark 13:28-37. “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.” “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. ‘Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
We’re living in a time of great political and economic uncertainty. What’s going to happen in the stock market? What’s going to happen with the price of oil? Who will be elected the next President? When will the next terrorist attack occur? The American public is afraid. In fact, I read these words in a magazine editorial recently: “It is a gloomy moment in the history of our country. Not in the lifetime of most Americans has there been so much grave and deep apprehension; never has the future seemed more unpredictable as at this time. The domestic economic situation is in chaos. Our dollar is weak throughout the world. The political cauldron seethes and bubbles with uncertainty. It is a solemn moment of our troubles. No man can see the end.” So when do you think those words were written? They appeared in October of 1857 in Harper’s Weekly Magazine.
This was 160 years ago before our nation was divided by a bloody civil war. The writer of the editorial mentioned twice that no one could see the future. Well, we can stand from the perspective of history and look back and agree that was a terrible time in our history, but our nation survived and has grown strong. Our problems today pale in comparison to a time when Americans were getting ready to go to war against fellow Americans. But the feeling of uncertainty is the same. What’s going to happen in the future? Jesus has the advantage of seeing what’s happening now and He knows how it’s all going to turn out in the end. And in spite of the trouble we face, Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)