Jesus's Words

The Parable of the Alert Servants

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Mark 13:32-37

Synopsis of Parable:

Man goes on a journey, leaving home. Tells slaves to work and the doorkeeper to stay awake.

Parable Given in Response to:

Regarding the question Jesus's four of Jesus's apostles asked him about the signs of the demolishment of the temple and some buildings.(Mark 13:4.) Jesus gave this parable in front of the treasury.(Mark 12:41.)

Symbolism Chart

Symbol Meaning Verse Found
↓Man and
Master of the House
Jesus Mark 13:34, 35
↓Far Journey Jesus's Trip Back to Heaven Mark 13:34
↓House Earth Mark 13:34
↓Porter Followers of God Mark 13:34

The Parable of the Alert Servants

As presented in the King James Version of Mark 13:32-37

Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34 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.
35 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:
36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols

The Man and Master of the House are Jesus Back to Top ↑

The man is the master of the house. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey who left his house. Mark 13:34 And since the Son of man is Jesus, both the man taking a far journey and the master of the house is Jesus.

There is no reason to doubt this interpretation. Jesus stated this interpretation clearly.

The Far Journey is Jesus's Trip Back to Heaven Back to Top ↑

The far journey is a trip to heaven.

A journey needs a destination, and heaven is a perfect location for a journey. Even before Jesus's death, he told his disciples the reason he was going ahead of them. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:2-3 And so, after his resurrection, Jesus went up and left the disciples behind.(Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51.) Jesus's earlier saying fits perfectly with what he says in this parable. He is taking a far journey, and he will return.(Matthew 24:30.)

The House is Earth Back to Top ↑

For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants...for ye know not when the master of the house cometh. Mark 13:34-35 Jesus was on Earth, now he has left on a journey and is far from Earth. Furthermore, Jesus said, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matthew 28:18 Jesus has the authority to give to his servants and the porter to do what it is they need to do.

There is no other interpretation besides "Earth" that would make logical sense for this symbol.

The Porter is the Follower of God Back to Top ↑

...and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore... Mark 13:34, 35 Here, Jesus directly called his audience the porter, by telling both the porter and them to watch for his return. We just need to determine who the audience was, and we can figure out who the porter is.

Jesus spoke this parable at the temple treasury,(Mark 12:41.) where he called over his disciples(Mark 12:43.) to tell them of a widow's donation. As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples proclaimed astonishment about the buildings,(Mark 13:1.) but Jesus was not amused, saying that all the stones of the buildings would be thrown down.(Mark 13:2.)

Directly after this that Peter, James, John, and Andrew seek Jesus out on the Mount of Olives, and ask him Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?Mark 13:3, 4 After a lengthy discord, Jesus begins to talk about the Parable of the Alert Servants.

So, the audience is Simon, James, John, and Andrew. Therefore, the interpretation of the porter must either be those four, or include those four apostles. Given that the parable is talking about the second coming of Jesus(Mark 13:2, 4, 26, 32.) and that Jesus once described how Simon would die,(John 21:18, 19.) we know that Jesus did not think these four apostles would live on earth forever. That means that the porter cannot only be those four, since they would have waited in vain: Jesus did not come again during their lifetimes. That means that the porters are still alive today, and therefore they are a group of people.

Thus, the porters are the followers of Jesus. Even today, we desperately seek for the conditions that Jesus describes would occur before his coming. Constantly, we are analyzing every new technology, illness, war, and earthquake to determine if they match other signs of Jesus. Lastly, we share this knowledge with everyone in the world, freely. This interpretation makes sense with Jesus's last sentence of the parable, And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. Mark 13:37 He clarified that his command to watch was to them all.

In Conclusion Back to Top ↑

This parable is an extension on the lesson that Jesus was already teaching: that his followers should be watching for signs of his second coming, and not to grow lax about it.

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