“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33).
The longest speech in Mark’s gospel (chapter 13) is the one dealing with the end of the temple and the end of the world. While the command “Be on guard!” occurs in the same context in both Matthew and Luke, Mark focuses on it, mentioning it five times in Jesus’ speech.
The speech itself is notoriously difficult. Was Jesus talking just about the end of the temple, or was he talking about the end of the world (or both)? Matthew and Mark each offer clues. At one point, Jesus says: “This generation will not pass away before all these things take place” (vs. 30). Some scholars suggest Jesus was not talking about his own generation, but the generation that would see the signs. But that makes Jesus seem a bit foolish. Obviously the generation that would see the signs wouldn’t pass until they had seen them. The easier answer is that, everything in Mark 13:1-31 addresses the end of the temple. Verses 32-37 address the end of the world.
But the timing of neither cataclysmic event was really the point. The point was that both are coming, and you should “be on guard.!” For the disciples, and perhaps some of Mark’s early readers, the end of the temple would seem like the end of the world. Whether it genuinely was or not was irrelevant. The imperative for the disciples was to be watchful with their lives.
There will be (and perhaps, for you, already have been) times when you will think your world is coming to an end. But there is something always more important than what is happening. Are you ready to meet the Lord? It’s a lifestyle really, to live every day in prepared anticipation of his coming.