The Voice of Mark: Pay Attention

Ken Eriks

Read: Mark 13:24-31

When you see these things taking place, you know that he is near. (v. 29)

One preparation for Christmas that will happen in many homes is baking and decorating Christmas cookies. The recipe tells you the oven temperature and exactly how long to bake the cookies. But you have to do more than read and follow the directions. You have to pay attention or they may come out of the oven burnt.

Advent is about paying attention, which pertains to Jesus’ first coming as well as to his second. Watch the fig tree, says Mark. When its branches become tender and put forth new sprouts, summer is near. Likewise, when Jesus first arrived, Magi followed his star to Bethlehem. Even more so when our Lord’s coming “in the clouds with great power and glory” is near, we’ll know the time is ripe, unless we aren’t paying attention.

In Advent, the Scriptures invite us to pay attention and see God near at hand. The Magi from “the east” followed an unusual star some 800 or 900 miles, perhaps from Persia (modern-day Iran; Matt. 2:1-12). After hearing the words of the prophet Micah, which speak of a ruler coming from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), these wise men were invited to draw near to the Child who had been born king of the Jews. Years later, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). God came near; he will come near again when Christ returns. —Ken Eriks

Prayer: Lord, help us to pay attention to your words. Amen.