The Bible is emphatic that we should “watch.” When understood in its proper context it really is a Godly command. We are to be watching. But we know that Christianity is not a spectator sport! As Christians, of course we want to do what God mandates that we do. What is that….?
Definition: Stay Awake!
Matthew 26:37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.
Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
Γρηγορεύω grēgoreuō gray-gor-yoo’-o
From G1453; to keep awake, that is, watch (literally or figuratively)
Substitute this when we read the word “watch”
Matthew 26:39 He went a little farther [even though He was going away they were still to watch or be awake with Him] and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.“ [a point right before His crucifixion, so you can imagine the fervency and that Jesus was well and truly awake]
Matthew 26:40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation…”
When Jesus Christ says this we see the spiritual application and the figurative use of watching:
This is not talking physically that we need to stay awake or else we will enter into temptation, but rather to be awake spiritually
2) metaphorically give strict attention to, be cautious, active, (Strong’s: vigilant)
2a) to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one
Primarily it refers our spiritual condition. One in which we are to be spiritually awake and aware. The focus of the watch is introspectively: lest you enter into temptation
This is why we are to be watchful or better awake. And this is why Jesus Christ makes it a command
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray this is an imperative. There is no equivocation. It is not a suggestion; He does not say watch if you want to. The way that it said here gives up no choice but to watch….and pray
These two go together
Notice this symbiotic relationship in:
Colossians 4:2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;
(KJV) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
(CEV) Never give up praying. And when you pray, keep alert and be thankful.
When we pray we stay awake spiritually and when we watch, we pray. The two go hand in hand creating a successful formula for us to be doing what we are supposed to be doing.
They did not watch and subsequently what happened?
Matthew 26:56 “But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.
Matthew 26:69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
Matthew 26:70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”
Matthew 26:71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Matthew 26:72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”
Matthew 26:73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
Matthew 26:74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed.
Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
They denied Christ
Matthew 26:34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
Matthew 26:35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.
Even though Peter’s intentions were the best he was incapable at this point of fulfilling his own words because Matthew 26:41 …The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
But He preceded that with: Watch and pray
This is why Peter failed, because he did not do this as Jesus Christ instructed.
He did not watch OR pray and what were the consequences of that? He / they fell short…just as we will
Christ set the example in this:
watch with Me. It was what Christ was doing at that time
Notice Jesus Christ’s example at this time in the parallel account in:
Luke 22:39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.
Luke 22:40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Luke 22:41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed,
Luke 22:42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
Luke 22:43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
Now notice the intensity:
Luke 22:44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.
Luke 22:46 Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise [stand; you can’t fall asleep like this] and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
[for context] Luke 22:47 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him.
Christ knew what was coming, which is why He prayed more earnestly. Do we know what is coming? If we do shouldn’t we be awake spiritually?
What is it that we are to be watching? In this sense:
We are to be awake to our shortcomings in how we measure up against the Word of God
1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation [The opposite, falling into sin]
1 Thessalonians 5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. [we know this is going to happen]
1 Thessalonians 5:4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
1 Thessalonians 5:5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. [So as those who are Christians and know better:]
1 Thessalonians 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. [not drunk, but alert. Being sober is often mentioned in connection with being awake. Not only are we to be awake, we are to be alert and prayerful]
1 Thessalonians 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
Faith and belief in God and His word. Love towards Him and our fellow man. Keeping in mind the incredible plan of God that lies ahead.
While we do this though we also need to:
Watch out for OTHERS
Watch for those that can influence us wrongly
Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
Acts 20:30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
The connotation is that we still need to be awake to doing what is right
And of course we need to:
Watch for Satan
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilantG1127; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
When are we to be watching?
Silly question? It should be obvious…especially with as many times as the Bible expounds on the subject
Mark 13:32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Mark 13:33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. [contrary to what some believe]
Mark 13:34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.
Mark 13:35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—
Mark 13:36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. [which is not according to His command to be awake, which is reiterated in the next verse]
Mark 13:37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” [emphatic, there is no variance here]
What can and WILL happen if we don’t watch
Matthew 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Matthew 25:2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Matthew 25:3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,
Matthew 25:4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
Matthew 25:5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
Matthew 25:6 “And at midnight [in the middle of the night; not a specific time, but more a time that we do not expect] a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
Matthew 25:7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
Matthew 25:8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ [they were not prepared, they had not been watching as they should have and now it was too late]
Matthew 25:9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’
Matthew 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
Matthew 25:11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
Matthew 25:12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ [He did not see growth of the holy spirit within them. He did not see the character that should have been built and now it was too late to get the holy righteous character necessary] [So Christ’s final admonition here is:]
Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. In other words, do this now! Be spiritual awake RIGHT NOW because when He returns, at His second coming, it will be too late.
Now we are getting into the aspect that we most closely associate with watching and that is the return of Jesus Christ.
What to Look for in the Future
Luke 21:23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.
Luke 21:24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Luke 21:25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;
Luke 21:26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Luke 21:27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Luke 21:28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Luke 21:29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.
Luke 21:30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.
Luke 21:31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
Luke 21:32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.
Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
God tells us what is going to happen for many reasons such as prophecy is a proof of God and the veracity of the Bible; it is a witness to everyone what will happen if they do not obey; it shows the events that are to happen before Jesus Christ returns and it shows their order.
And based on these things we know that salvation is near, so what are we to be doing knowing all of this?
Luke 21:34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.
We are to be doing what we are supposed to be doing: being spiritually awake and sober looking to heaven above
Not doing what we are not supposed to be doing: drunkeness, sleeping, caught up in the affairs of this world
Luke 21:35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Luke 21:36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
We do not pray always that we can escape these things, the fact that we watch and [ray as we have been commanded may allow us to escape all these things
And if we do watch and pray as we have been commanded we stand before the Son of Man
We have to ask ourselves whether watching these things come to pass or working on perfecting ourselves prepares us better for the return of Christ.
The end-time events will happen, will your repentance? Which one do you think is more important?
It is not because we were so clever in knowing the events that were coming that we get to stand with Jesus Christ at His coming. It is because we were doing what we were supposed to in our lives.
With this perspective, let’s read the end-time account in Matthew 24
Matthew 24:3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. [this happens when we are not grounded in the word of God]
Matthew 24:5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
Matthew 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
[these things have been happening since the time of Christ]
Matthew 24:11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
Matthew 24:12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many [church brethren] will grow cold.
Matthew 24:13 But he who endures [stays faithful] to the end shall be saved.
Now there is an aspect of seeing these events and then acting according to scripture because of them
Matthew 24:15 “Therefore when you see the ‘ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), [if you are watching and see these things then: (what do you do?)]
Matthew 24:16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Matthew 24:17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.
Matthew 24:18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
Matthew 24:19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
Matthew 24:20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
[it is a condition to avoiding the great tribulation]
Matthew 24:21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Matthew 24:23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.
Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:25 See, I have told you beforehand.
Matthew 24:26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. [We have to be educated in the Word of God to know what we are watching for and whether this is it or not: and He follows with the answer: ]
Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Then after telling of all these things that are to come to pass in the end-time, He says:
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore, for you do not know [this is why we watch] what hour your Lord is coming.
What we have here is a correlation between end-time events and their ability to motivate us.
Jesus Christ is saying here, Watch therefore do what you are supposed to be doing because all of these things are going to happen and you need to be in the right state, that is right before God.
All that being said even though I have said all these things you don’t know the hour or the specific time
Matthew 24:43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Matthew 24:44 Therefore [conclusion to the matter] you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. [Are you expecting Him now? No/yes?]
Matthew 24:45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
Matthew 24:46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.
Matthew 24:47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.
Matthew 24:48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’
Matthew 24:49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,
Matthew 24:50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,
Matthew 24:51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So if anything then, this timeline that God gave to us of the order of end-time events should be instilling a sense of urgency in us that we should be awake and vigilant, repenting and changing our ways now, not after He gets here, because that will be too late
Let’s turn to a final set of scriptures
Revelation 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.
Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
Revelation 3:4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “HE WHO HAS THE KEY OF DAVID, HE WHO OPENS AND NO ONE SHUTS, AND SHUTS AND NO ONE OPENS”:
Revelation 3:8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. [as Peter did three times when He did not WATCH or PRAY]
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
1 John 2:22 denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
Revelation 3:17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— [misplaced priorities]
Revelation 3:18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
Romans 13:11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Romans 13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
How close is it for you? We are given our three score and ten so that means that for every one of us it’s but a sliver a time away in the grand scheme of things. And for those that are already dead, in is in the next instant. How far away are we from seeing Christ’s return then? Will He come for you in the next watch? If so, will you be found so doing?