THE ABSENT HOUSEHOLDER
Mark 13:34-37 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
The majority of this chapter of Mark's gospel is given to foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem. It was predictable and would take place within this generation (Mark 13:30). The Jewish nation was warned; they were to watch for the signs and wonders that would precede this calamity, in order to flee to safety. Looking back, we realize this destruction took place by the might of the Roman armies. This event is contrasted to the second coming of Jesus. Unlike the signs and wonders that warned of the destruction of Jerusalem, the day of judgment will have no warning other than this - take ye heed, watch and pray (Vs. 33a). Mark says in verse 32, but of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
In teaching this very important lesson to His disciples, and to us today, Jesus used the parable found in our subject text. Here we find a man taking a far journey. The man was an owner of property that needed tending. There was also a trusted porter, or householder, in charge of the owner's servants. Each servant was given work to carry out; some as overseers and some as workers, but all responsible for the specific work assigned to them. As owner took leave, the householder warned his servants that they would not know when the owner would return - it may be in the evening, at nighttime, or at the dawning of the day. Whatever the time of his return, he expected them to be carrying out the work assigned to them, rather than being asleep on the job.
Mark identifies the man taking a far journey, as the Son of man, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - the Master Teacher of this parable. Other applications can readily be inferred. The far journey was Jesus' ascension into heaven. His servants represent Christians, which He purchased with his own blood on the cross of Calvary. The unknown time the master of the house cometh is likened to the second coming of Jesus - Judgment Day, in which He will come without warning. The work assigned to each servant represents the works of faith and the labors of love required of each Christian, as found in God's word. The work assigned is unique and must be performed by that person; it cannot be performed by anyone else for you. The assigned tasks are never ending, and the master expected his servants to be performing them when he returned. Severe punishment is assumed to take place for any found not working - those that were idle, or sleeping. God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, expects the same from each Christian. We each have unique talents and sufficient work assigned to use our abilities to their fullest extent. We should never be found asleep but ever working to fill our God-given responsibilities.
Our Savior had many works to be accomplished during His life on earth. These were works assigned by God. Notice Jesus' attitude toward His earthly duties. I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work (John 9:4). This is our example; this is the attitude we are to have about our assigned work; this is what God expects of us. Although by faith we come to God and become His children through baptism into the body of Christ, but it is by works that we remain faithful and obedient. Works are important to the Christian - extremely important. Paul told Titus that there were those that professed to know God, but denied Him through works of evil, and failing at good works (Titus 1:16). He continues this thought by telling Titus, and us today, that we should show ourselves to be a pattern, or an example of good works (2:7), to be zealous of good works (2:14), and to they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works (3:8).
Watch ye therefore, and may the Lord find you working at His return. In Revelations 14:13, this is what John tells us of faithful servants of Christ: Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. God's Word warns usto Work for your Master, Jesus Christ, and Watch for His coming!