Summary: Jesus told us to be ready no matter when His return will occur.
Watching and Waiting
Text: Mk. 13:28-37
1. Read Mk. 13:28-37
2. Illustration: After 14 years of studying the Bible, William Miller became convinced that Christ would return in 1843. When Miller announced April 3 as the day, some disciples went to mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven. Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in reunion with their departed loved ones. Philadelphia society ladies clustered together outside town to avoid entering God’s kingdom amid the common herd. When April 4 dawned as usual the Millerites were disillusioned, but they took heart. Their leader had predicted a range of dates for Christ’s return. They still had until March 21, 1844. The devout continued to make ready, but again they were disappointed. A third date--October 22, 1844--was set, but it also passed.
3. William Miller is not alone. Many others have tried to predict when Jesus will return, and many others will continue to try and predict when His return will happen.
4. However, they are missing the point!
Proposition: Jesus told us to be ready no matter when His return will occur.
Transition: Jesus said...
I. We’ll See the Signs (28-31)
A. When You See These Things Happen
1. Jesus compares the signs of His coming to the leaves on a fig tree.
a. In contrast with most of Palestine’s trees, fig trees lose their leaves in winter and bloom later in the spring.
b. Thus whenever the stiff, dry, winter twigs become tender, softened due to the rising sap, and leaves appear, then observers know that winter is past and summer is near.—Bible Knowledge Commentary
c. The disciples, like anyone living in Palestine, knew how to interpret the coming of summer from the buds and leaves of the fig trees.
2. In the same way, when the disciples see the events, they would know that his return is very near.
3. Jesus said that "when you see these things happening, know that it is near--at the doors!"
a. Christ was speaking of cause and effect: every cause has its effect. The signs covered by Christ are second causes.
b. Christ was saying when the signs are seen, expect the result (effect): the coming again of the Son of Man.
4. When believers see...
a. An unusual number of wars and natural disasters, they can know "the beginning of sorrows" has begun.
b. Bitter persecution, they can know that God will tolerate only so much against His people.
c. Iniquity abounding and love waxing cold, they can know that God will judge and stop such apostasy.
5. But please notice that these are only signs!
B. They Are Only Signs
1. Illustration: A priest and a rabbi from local parishes were standing by the side of the road holding up signs. The rabbi’s read, "The End is Near!" The priest, on the other side of the road, held up a sign which read, "Turn before it’s too late!" They planned to hold up their signs to each passing car. "Get a job." The first driver yelled. The second, immediately behind the first, yelled, "Leave us alone you religious freaks"! Shortly, from around the curve, they heard screeching tires and a splash followed by more screeching tires and another splash. The rabbi looked over at his companion and said, "Do you think we should try a different sign"? The other man responded, "Perhaps, ’Bridge Out’ might be better"?
2. What I believe that Jesus is telling us is that signs are a good thing.
a. They tell us when the time is getting close.
b. They tell us what to watch out for.
c. They tell us what to look for.
3. However, I also believe that He is telling us not to get hung up on the signs.
a. We can get so obsessed with the signs that we miss what they point to.
b. We can get so obsessed with the signs that we start looking for signs instead of looking for Jesus!
4. Many unbelievers love to talk about the end times, but they don’t want to hear about Jesus.
a. They will talk about the Bible as long as it is from Daniel or Revelation.
b. They are interested as long as you talk about the rapture or the tribulation, but they don’t want to hear about the judgment.
5. We need to stop putting so much focus on the signs and start focusing on Jesus!
Transition: Jesus also said...
II. We Won’t Know the Time (32-33)
A. No One Knows
1. Jesus main point occurs in verse 32, when he says "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
2. While Jesus had given general "signs" to observe regarding the coming of the end, he clearly explained to the disciples that the exact day or hour was not known by the angels or the Son ( Jesus himself).