Based on: Mark 13:32-37
Did you ever wonder just how the wise men from the east knew to watch for the savior? How did they know when they saw that special star in the sky that the “King of the Jews” had been born? Some suggest the prophet Daniel, an exile in Babylon, told the wise men of Babylon about the promised Savior more than 500 years before Christ was born.
The Bible doesn’t tell us for certain, but one way or another the wise men were watching for the Savior. Perhaps for generations they passed on the prophecy of the coming savior and night after night anxiously watched the sky for that special star. When it came, they were ready, and they traveled to Bethlehem. They saw the Savior. Now it is our turn. Jesus is coming again. Watch for your Savior. He is coming. Just watch!
He is certainly coming. Just look at the divine track record of promises kept. Already, in the Garden of Eden God told the serpent, “He will crush your head” and in those words was the promise to send a Savior to destroy all of Satan’s work. Not only in the Garden of Eden, but also to Abraham, Moses, King David, Isaiah and to many others God promised to send the Messiah – the Christ.
Over and over again in the Old Testament we hear the message, “he is coming, he is coming.” And what happened? Christ came. God kept his promise and a baby was born in Bethlehem. That baby is Christ – God himself – who came to crush the head of that serpent, destroy the work of Satan, and rescue us from our own miserable condition.
Now he has promised to come again in glory and take us to be with him in heaven. He will certainly keep this promise in the same way he kept the first. Watch for him. He would not have told us to watch unless he was coming back.
The question is, “When?” Don’t you want to know? Wouldn’t it make things easier if he had just told us, “I’ll be back next Tuesday at 3:15. Watch for me.”? He didn’t tell us. Instead, he says the angels in heaven don’t know when that day will be. (Of course, Satan and the evil angels don’t know either – not that they are looking forward to that day.)
What else did Jesus say? Even the “Son” doesn’t know when that day is. Does that puzzle you? The Son of God, Jesus Christ himself, does not know when the end of the world will be. Jesus even said, “I and the Father are one.” How can he say that he does not know when that day is, yet the Father does?
Here is the answer. While Jesus walked on this earth, while he was winning our salvation for us, he did not always use his power, glory, and, yes, even the knowledge he had as God. He used them only when it was necessary to carry out our salvation. He could say honestly that “the Son,” that is, Christ himself, does not know when the last day will be.
The point is that when it comes to taking our sins away, Jesus didn’t need to know when the day of judgment would be. In order to be saved we don’t need to know either. Following Christ’s example we recognize that our heavenly Father has the authority to set that day and we leave it in his hands. We trust that our heavenly Father has told us everything we need to know.
Besides, what if I did know? Wouldn’t that be dangerous! If I was certain Christ wouldn’t return for a hundred years or a thousand years, would I procrastinate and give up watching? Perhaps you can relate to the person who has a task to do but the deadline is far in the future. He puts it off as long as possible but then all of a sudden realizes he doesn’t have enough time to finish. We know the Lord could return at any moment and so we watch continually. We are always waiting for our Savior to come.
Whenever he comes we can be sure it will be at just the right time. Remember what Paul said about Christ’s first coming: “When the time had fully come God sent His Son.” It was the perfect time for Christ to come. Hearts, burdened with the weight of sin, were ready to hear the Gospel. The relative peace and safety in the Roman Empire along with good roads and a common language allowed this good news to spread quickly. It was the perfect time for Christ to come. When Christ comes again in glory it will again be the perfect time for him to come – neither too soon nor too late. He is coming. Watch for him.
Our watching is not in vain. Christ certainly will return, and our heavenly Father will make that happen at just the right time. We really don’t need to know when. We just watch.
We watch for our Savior. He told us to expect him. He is coming. Don’t fall asleep! Do not let the things of this world distract you from something as important as watching for our Savior. Our own sinful flesh wants to be distracted. It wants to focus on the trivial things of this world.
As we focus on this time of year we realize there is plenty to do. There are preparations to be made, parties to go to, decorations to put up and shopping to be done. How much will these things distract us from hearing about our Savior’s birth and about the salvation he won for us? How much will these things distract us from focusing on his glorious second coming?
So how do we watch and keep from falling asleep? We focus on our Savior and “stay awake and alert” by reading God’s Word and using the Sacraments – baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These things remind us over and over again that we are sinners deserving hell, but that God sent his Son to live the perfect life we should live and to die the death we deserve. They also remind us that one day he will come again to take us to be with him in heaven.
The Holy Spirit uses this message in God’s Word and in the sacraments to create and strengthen our faith in God’s promises. It is the splash of water on the face, the spiritual caffeine that keeps us awake and watching – focused on the Savior’s return.
Just watch. Christ has done the work for us! When we realize, “I have not kept a single one of God’s commands,” we need not despair because Christ obeyed them for us. We don’t have to worry about the hell we deserve because Christ suffered it for us. He suffered even for the many times we are distracted from watching for him.
He has paid the price to get us into heaven, and he said he will come back and take us there. Just watch. It is a joy. Christ is coming to bring us a wonderful gift – the gift of heaven. With anticipation and joy we watch for our Savior to come with this gift. It is like a child who knows her father is coming home with a gift for her. Over and over again she goes to the window to see if perhaps her father has pulled in the driveway. She is watching! Anticipation and excitement fill her mind.
Do you remember how Simeon was filled with anticipation? He was there when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple. Simeon was told that he would not die before he saw the Christ child with his own eyes. Anticipation must have filled his mind as he thought day after day, “Is this the day I will see my Savior?” He was watching, and we also watch. With anticipation we think day after day, “Is this the day I will see my Savior? Is this the day he will return?”
God promised the Old Testament believers that Christ would come as their Savior. They were not disappointed. The wise men watched the skies for the star that would indicate Christ’s first coming. We also watch the skies, but not for a star. We watch the skies for Christ himself to come in glory to take us to be with him, and we will not be disappointed! Watch for your Savior. He is coming. Just watch!