Every year, thousands of people wait up to greet a new year by watching a giant ball drop in New York City on the stroke of midnight. And some on the West coast then go to bed at 9:00 pm and get a good night sleep.
Jesus used the analogy of waiting up and watching for something or someone to tell us how we should watch for His return. He had not even died yet, but He was as sure of His resurrection as He was of His death. And He would return as King. It would have been surreal for His disciples to think back in later years on Jesus’ instructions for awaiting His arrival, recorded in Mark 13:32-37:
32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 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. 35 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— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
He is expected at any time, but the exact hour is not sure. It is like a plane flight that might be delayed. Will you be ready to greet Him? Obviously we do not need to treat every day like New Year’s and stay up to all hours of the day. But anticipation should characterize each day as we continue the work that He has given us to complete. And He will return.
God, thank You for celebrations that remind us how exciting it is to wait for something. And thank You that You have given us things to do while we wait for Jesus to return. Every generation has watched and waited, and You are delaying for the perfect hour. Please help me to be diligent with the tasks of the day, but never forget that this is not the end. You are coming back, and that will be a party to remember! Thank You! Amen.