“Be on guard, keep awake… Therefore stay awake… And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:33-37 ESV).
In Mark 13:32-37, Jesus is talking about his return, and how no one knows the day or the hour in which it will happen. Three times in those six verses Jesus tells his disciples to stay awake. I’m going to go out on an interpretive limb and hazard a guess that staying awake is the important takeaway from the paragraph (even though we tend to gravitate toward verse 32, about how no one knows the day or the hour). Anytime a command is repeated in triplicate, especially within the same paragraph, you can count on it being important.
Why would Jesus repeat these words three times? Didn’t his disciples get it the first time, or even the second? Well… do we? How easy is it to fall asleep at the wheel and let life cruise on autopilot for a while? As a parent, I can personally attest to the strong temptation to get caught up in the boys’ extracurricular activities and hit cruise on their spiritual development. When was the last time we did a devotional or read a Scripture and prayed together? Hmmmm… I guess we’ve been lulled to sleep by practices, games, lessons, and more.
As a husband, I can say the same thing about marriage. Am I intentionally investing in my marriage through prayer, Scripture together, date nights, and the like? Or have I fallen asleep at that wheel, too, distracted by the pace of life while my marriage slowly but surely fades? What about my spiritual family, the church? Or sharing Jesus with my neighbors? Am I rea-zzzzzz…
In our country, there are so many movies, shows, concerts, podcasts, activities, events, games, gatherings, and hobbies—not to mention our precious careers—that we can easily put our relationship with the Lord into sleep mode as well. I think Jesus said, “Stay awake,” three times because he knew how effortlessly we can be soothed to a stupor by the Satanic sleep track that has two songs on repeat: Don’t Worry, Be Busy and You Do You.
After dealing with three months of severe insomnia in my household (for which no medication has consistently helped—and we’ve tried them all), I pray daily for physical sleep. But I sometimes wonder if Christians need a dose of spiritual insomnia to wake us up from our spiritual slumber. While the enemy wreaks havoc on our kids, our marriages, our churches, and our nation, we sleep peacefully on, comfortable and sated and blissfully unaware. My kids have no concept of a personal relationship with Jesus, but they do have that little league trophy that will end up in a landfill in a few years. So worth it!
Pardon the sarcasm. I’ll let Jesus end this post. His words matter a lot more than mine! “And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”