The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting. We encourage you to please contact us if you would like to know more about us.

Click here: Mark 13:32-37, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 13:32-37, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

Mark 13:32-37, Faithful, Watchful & Fruitful for the Coming Saviour:
• By now, our study in Mark 13 should have done the justice of informing you what took place in Jerusalem in 70 AD. And by that time, the early Christian church was undoubtedly well-informed and well-prepared for the “end times.”
• But they needed to be faithful in preaching the gospel up to that point! They needed to be watchful, as Christ told all they needed to know concerning the coming judgement. Additionally, they needed to be fruitful in their commitment to the Lord.

• And here’s the reality, they paid attention to these words! They persevered to the end. Now, although we live in a different era, we know that there is a time when “the end” will come for us. It may be in death or at Christ’s return.
• So coming to the end of Mark 13, looking at Christ’s third and final answer to the disciples questions, we’ll be looking at the universal application for Christ’s coming – and that is to be faithful, watchful, and fruitful!

• So let’s read to together. Now, if we are unclear or unsure about the previous section, we can definitely be sure that these verses are talking about the Second coming of Christ! The Greek in Matthew 24:37 uses the specific reference word, Parousia!
• In addition we can be clear on, and agree that no one knows when this coming will take place! Jesus even uses this parable to describe the secrecy of His coming. Listen, His arrival won’t be a secret, it will be loud, it will be visible, and it will be glorious!

• However, the moment of His arrival will be a surprise. See, the parable is talking about the master of a house who goes on a trip. Now he leaves his servants in charge, which would be a great honour and a big deal by the way.
• It is your shot to prove your abilities and hopefully have more responsibilities. Now the doorkeeper has to stay on the alert to let the master in when he returns. Poor guy has to be ready 24/7. In fact, everyone has to be ready, those who prepare his room, his meals, etc.

• That’s the analogy for the coming of Christ. Therefore, the single preparation for the End is faithfulness, watchfulness and fruitfulness in the present – in the here and now! So let’s look at these three forms of encouragement and readiness:

  1. Be Faithful:
    • Text – 13:32-37
    • Explanation – each servant would have to be faithful in their task as they have been left with a specific responsibility. And if each one is faithful in their role, the master’s house will be in order! No one would be caught off guard or be unaware.

• Illustration – See, John records the words of Christ to the Church in Smyrna who was about to encounter persecution, saying; “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10).
• And so as we anticipate the Lord’s return, whether we experience persecution or not, faithfulness to the Lord and His standards is a prime necessity for us as believers. In Psalm 37:3, David admonishes his hearers to, “Trust in the Lord and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity!” It means to be faithful truthfully!
• Application – Perhaps an example of this Psalm is seen in Matthew’s parable of the talents, which is an additional word on the second coming. Turn to Matthew 25:14-30, “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.
• To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. . . . After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five.

• ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
• Come and share your master’s happiness!’ . . . Then the man who had received the one talent came. . . . ‘So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.’ . . . His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!’”

• Conclusion – To the faithful, Jesus said “Well done, good and faithful servant!” However, the man who had the one talent was rebuked by God, “You wicked, lazy servant!” because he did nothing with what he had but buried it. God made a distinction between the faithful servant and the wicked servant.
• So what does it mean to be faithful? The Lord is coming, and not once did He say wait around & doing nothing till I come in glory. Instead, He told the disciples to preach the Gospel and to be on guard.

• Bridge – So being faithful is like the man with the 5 talents, who did the work expected of him. To present the Gospel, and as faithful children of God, to always pray and work diligently to bear fruit that pleases God.
• When the church in Thessalonica thought the Lord returned, and thinking that missed Him, they were lazy… Paul said to them, “keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

• “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.
• For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thess 3:6-12)

  1. Be Watchful:
    • Text – 13:35
    • Explanation – 5 times our text records Jesus telling them to be alert. Which makes sense as the master of the house won’t be texting his servants telling them of his arrival, they had to be ready at any moment. Paul also wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). What does “watch” mean?
    • And how important is it that we “watch”? Consider this: The biblical command to watch is several times coupled with the command to pray. Is prayer important? Yes! And so is the command to watch!
    • When the New Testament commands us to “watch,” it is usually the translation of one of two Greek words, which have similar meanings—to “stay awake” and to “be sleepless.” They are usually meant in the metaphorical and spiritual sense—to be vigilant and on guard, fully awake, aware, alert and intently focused.

• Illustration – In Matthew 26:37-40, the meaning of “watch” is primarily physical. Jesus was rebuking the disciples for not remaining awake during the hour preceding of His arrest. But what Jesus next said to Peter in Matthew 26:41 had a deeper, spiritual meaning: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'”
• It is spiritual watching coupled with prayer that gives one the strength to endure temptations and difficult situations. How fitting is that? Watching, in this spiritual sense of watching and praying, is being aware of the snares of the world.

• Application – And by extension, Jesus is warning us to be on the lookout for anything that will hinder our relationship with God, whether it is a specific trial, whether it is through the temptation of false teaching, whatever it may be – we are to abide in Christ.
• 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” So we are to watch by being aware of the snares of sin and of the Devil’s schemes; we are to pray because it is God who has the power and He has made prayer the means by which we communicate with Him and receive His strength.

• Conclusion – and so we pray fervently, knowing that Jesus is coming. And we watch as we eagerly await His return and to be prepared when He comes, or when we meet Him through our own death.
• Furthermore, we are told to be always praying, and always giving thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We are to pray for endurance and to be free from distractions (Hebrews 12:1-2). We pray because to do so is a gift from God and how we remain connected to Him.

• Bridge – Paul also wrote: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11). In other words, the closer we draw to the second coming of Christ, the more urgent it is that we are awake! Which brings us to the final encouragement…

  1. Be Fruitful:
    • Text – 13:37
    • Explanation – Now I’m sure the servants were getting drowsy, I often get drowsy behind my study, and the reason for this is; my mind is busy but my body isn’t moving. So with a high intake of information, but with no physical action – one gets sleepy. So what should I do take refresh in order to get going again?
    • I get up, do something physical, and get back to the study once I feel awake! But I don’t just do anything, I do something fruitful. See, I could go pull out weeds or do something of no real importance, but that wouldn’t be fruitful. We’re busy with renovations, and so if I want to be fruitful in my study, but am sleepy, I remain fruitful by working on our home.

• Illustration – this is just an example of what I do in an attempt to remain fruitful in my study. But in our Christian life, there is more I am doing to serve the Lord and His people. And being fruitful for the coming Kingdom, means to be busy with taking the Gospel out, discipling and counselling believers, pursuing holiness myself, and obeying God’s Word.
• Christianity is not a ‘sit-on-your-behind’ religion! In fact, Scripture uses the word ‘fruit’ as a metaphor to describe the outward demonstration of one’s inward character. This includes our behaviour, attitude, words, and even thoughts.

• But fruit can either be good or bad. Our bad fruit is a natural result of being born in sin (Ephesians 2:3). Therefore, the first and most important thing towards understanding what it means to being fruitful as we wait for Christ to return, is to pursue the fruit of the Spirit, because Paul says the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God.
• However, Paul writes that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

• Application – So if you are born of God, and belong to Jesus Christ, you produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Why is that important and what does it have to do with our anticipation of Christ’s coming? Well, being fruitful is not something that is done by willpower, but only by the power of God and His Holy Spirit working in and through us in Christ.
• Again, this points back to our ongoing relationship with God. It calls us to be mindful of this relationship. And not only does it trigger our thoughts and our minds, it reminds us of God’s grace as we cannot do anything apart from His strength.
• But don’t think that you can trick God by doing good works, while your heart is far from Him. The Pharisees did that and Jesus called them white-washed tombs because although they appear good on the outside, inside they were rotten (Matthew 23:27–28).

• To be fruitful, is to be motivated by a love for Jesus, with the aim of glorifying God. Being a fruitful Christian works from the inside out. Not the outside in. In 2 Peter 1:5-8, he writes; “…make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

• Conclusion – I hope you see that it is not our actions, but qualities, that have the priority. God first transforms our inner being, which then results in our bearing good fruit outwardly. If we are made alive on the inside first, our outward ‘good deeds’ are hypocrisy.
• So how did Jesus encourage the disciples to be fruitful? They were called to share the good news of salvation and make disciples (Matthew 28:18–20). To seek to do all things for God’s glory (Colossians 3:17). To confess their sins to God and pray for His continual work in them (1 John 1:9). And to strive to know God and to do that which pleases Him, knowing that we can bear no true fruit apart from Him (John 15:1–12).
• Bridge – Therefore, being a fruitful Christian is not accomplished by checking off a “to do” list, it means to follow Christ. To love what He loves. To do what He commands from a loving motive and with a joyful spirit. It is by God’s grace, and being in Christ, that are fruitful.

• So in summary, Christ is coming and our single preparation for the End is faithfulness, watchfulness and fruitfulness in the present! To be purposeful in our service of God & His people, and to be sure that His return is our final salvation!