Continuing our simple Sunday reflections in the Gospel of Mark, this week 13:32-37 and the end of Jesus’ ‘Olivet Discourse’ and his urgent warnings to the disciples over how to respond to dramatic, destructive and imminent events in Jerusalem.
These closing words strongly echo Jesus’ parabolic teaching elsewhere that have a strong eschatological focus (ten virgins in Matt 25 on the need to stay alert for the unexpected return of the bridegroom.)
But what is ‘that day or hour’?
The thrust of the discourse has been to prepare and warn the disciples for events that they would experience (the coming destruction of the Temple in AD70).
Opinions differ here, but some argue for a contrast in vs 32 here between those imminent events (AD70) and ‘that day’ – the eschatological Day of the Lord to come.
The surprising text here, considering the overwhelming impression of Jesus’ supreme authority throughout our weekly reflection in Mark, is that neither the Son (nor the angels) knows when ‘that day’ will happen, but only the Father.
Rather than being about the Christological question of Jesus’ status in relation to his Father, the real stress here is on the utter unknowability of the Day – so the need to be prepared.
What does it mean to be prepared for that Day?
The Day and Hour Unknown
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”