In Mark 13:35-36, Jesus is telling his disciples about the warning signs for the end times. He tells them, “Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert (NASB)!’” I find it interesting that Jesus mentions “when the rooster crows” and “come suddenly and find you asleep.” Both phrases are also related to incidents that later occurred with the disciples right before Jesus was crucified.
In Mark 14:32-42, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples. He knows what is about to happen and he told them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” As before, he tells them to be alert, yet three times he found them asleep. The third time he told them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Even though Jesus repeatedly told them to be ready, to be alert, his disciples are caught unprepared for the events that are about to unfold.
Jesus specifically calls out Peter when he finds the disciples sleeping the first time: “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” I think this is related to the statement Peter made earlier about his desire to follow Jesus no matter what. “I will lay down my life for You (John 13:37),” Peter told Jesus. To which Jesus responded, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times (13:38).” Later, after Jesus is arrested and taken away, three time he denied knowing Jesus (John 18:25-27).
It is one thing to know Jesus, to walk with him, to hear his teaching. But it is another thing to live out our faith in Jesus, particularly when we feel the pressure that tests our faith. Jesus’ warning to his disciples and their failure to heed his warning to be prepared is also a warning to us. We need to follow Jesus’ words to “be on alert;” to be ready to stand firm in our faith when we are tested; to be awake and aware of what is to come. We don’t want to be caught asleep and unprepared or hear the rooster crow to reveal our denial.
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. – Romans 13:11 (NASB)
© 2020 CGThelen