I don't really remember what I thought at the time, but now, I think it's a great 'command.'
Be alert - because other people drive like morons.
Be alert - because distractions are everywhere.
Be alert - because the unpredictable can happen.
Be alert - because people get killed driving all the time.
Not long after I got my license, a friend and I were in the car, slowing down as we approached a green light because there was a line of cars waiting to turn left. I noticed in my rearview mirror, the car behind me was fast approaching, and not slowing down. She was coming too fast. I quickly checked the right side mirror as I swerved into the next lane to avoid her crashing into my rear. She hit me anyway (although not straight on) and my car hit the car in the next lane. It ended up that she went flying into the front left side mirror and it fell off. That was the only damage done. I remember thinking she was only a few feet from the part of the door near my head. Alert prevented, well, who knows what.
Five times in Mark 13, Jesus commands his followers to "be on guard" or "stay awake." We're going to focus on 3 of those times.
Beginning with Jesus speaking in verse 22:
"For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
As I read this, I wondered why the warning? when else would a warning like this be given? Of course, I thought of my dad calling out, "Be alert!" as I left the house. But the other situation that came to mind is war. Be on guard. Man your post. Don't fall asleep at night. Sleep with your boots on, ready for action. Because the enemy isn't going to ring the doorbell and ask if you're ready to fight.
Although we find the phrases 4 times in this short section, it is given with only 3 different reasons.
#1 - Be on guard because I have told you all things beforehand; don't be led astray.
#2 - Be on guard and stay awake for you don't know when the time will come.
#3 - Stay awake lest he return and find you asleep!
Let's examine & meditate upon each of those carefully... tomorrow. [Can you handle the suspense? ;)]