Summary: Words chiseled in stone are for remembering. Jesus said I’m coming back - Stay Awake! This message underlines why.
33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:33 - 37 (NRSVA)
Some things happen which cause words to be chiseled in stone. On April 20, 1896 at 6:30 in the evening in the small Austrian village of Braunau Am Inn, just across the border from German Bavaria, Klara gave birth to a son. She was married to Alois. Alois was a widower and Klara was quite pregnant at the time; he was twice her age, as well as technically her uncle. At age 39 Alois was running for public office and on the advice of his uncle Johann Hiedler, was going to change his name from Schicklgruber (the name of his unwed mother) to Alois Hiedler. When he wrote it at the magistrate’s office he wrote “Hitler” instead of Hiedler. That Easter Sunday evening, the mother of this newborn, named her baby boy “Adolph”.
Adolph Hitler has been called the worst madman monster of the 20th century, responsible for the persecution, torture and execution of more people than almost anyone in history.
Today the three story house in which he was born that Easter evening is not marked in any way by his name. There is simply a marker in front which declares the voice of Hitler’s victims…For peace, freedom and democracy, never again fascism, millions of dead admonish. The phrase “never again fascism” is chiseled in stone…something that must never be forgotten, a reminder that we must always refuse and rebuke the kind of hate for which Hitler stood.
The words of Jesus in our passage are chiseled in stone even more dramatically; He said: I’m coming back – so keep awake! It is a warning! September 11, 2001 is a date chiseled in stone; 911 has become part of our culture – you don’t have to explain the terrorist attack and the resultant deaths of thousands. You don’t have to explain how it led to the war in which we’re now embroiled. This past week terrorists struck again at Mumbai (Bombay), India. The thread that ties 911 and Mumbai together is more than that both were terrorist attacks; in both instances there were warnings – signs that the event was imminent. Jesus also gave fair warning that he is coming back. But it’s more than a warning; it is also a comfort for the believer in Jesus Christ that our Master is not gone forever…He is going to return!
This morning I want to talk with you about the two choices we have concerning the chiseled words of Jesus; we can believe He’s coming back, and therefore we ought to live like it…or we can ignore it!
Believe it or Not!
We live in an age of skepticism, unbelief and apathy. A poll taker asked a woman on the street, Ma’am, would you agree with the statement that the most common problems of our time are ignorance and apathy? She answered as she brushed past him, I don’t know, and I don’t care!
If you are in that number (which is increasing exponentially) who deny Christ, either in word, or worse, with their lives – my only advice could possibly be to ask you to be honest – investigate what Scripture has to say about Jesus and be thorough about it. Don’t settle for some of the empty-headed pop-sophistication that pronounces the Gospel as unfounded without even reading the book. Do you really want to settle your eternity on the basis of unexamined and uninformed opinion? Rather, investigate the claims of the Bible about who Jesus is – then make your own decision.
I knew briefly a great scholar from the Baptist ranks named Hershel H. Hobbs. Dr. Hobbs preached a revival at our home church several years before he died. I got to study with him in a small group for a week. We met at 6:30 each morning and studied for 2 hours. In those ten hours Dr. Hobbs took us through the book of Galatians at a depth that required spiritual pressure suits. His only notes were pinned inside his skull. I once asked him during that week, considering all the choices available, what caused him to be a Christian; his remark: It was a case of negligence; somebody accidentally left a Bible open, and I read it. I also asked him what he would be if he wasn’t a Baptist – He said, ashamed!