“At that time, after the anguish of those days,
the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world-from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
28 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door. 30 I tell you the truth, this generation[e] will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!
34 “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35 You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return-in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. 36 Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”
For those of us who associate the season of Advent exclusively with Christmas, this might seem to be a very strange verse to start Advent. As I preach tomorrow, I will explain the dual preparation of Advent. Yes, we are preparing our hearts for the upcoming season of Christmas. But in addition to that, we are making sure that our hearts are ready for the coming (or Advent) of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. These are the warnings that are given here in Mark. As we were riding home this afternoon, we were listening to a Twila Paris CD. One of the songs on that CD is “Watch and Pray.” Jesus told us we must stay alert for the Lord’s return, we have no idea when it will be. Some may try to predict it, but that is not the essence here. Jesus is warning us to have our hearts right, not to be checking out all the signs. The question is, “Is your heart prepared for the Lord’s coming?”