In this passage, Jesus uses 4 different words related to seeing or looking. blepete idhte agrupneite grhgorh Don’t worry, there’s not going to be a quiz on the Greek stuff. blepete comes from blepw, the general purpose NT word for see
But it also carries a connotation of the ability to see, not blind. Like the guy who’s healed who says “I was blind but now I blepw” So instead we’ll call blepete “don’t be blinded” As in, keep your biases in check. Don’t turn a blind eye to sin or need. Don’t let power or powerlessness keep you from seeing God in someone. idhte comes from oraw, which is another general purpose seeing word, But which can carry a connotation of remembering, bearing witness. So let’s make idhte “bear witness,” This implies “don’t be silent” when you see injustice, Speak up for the voiceless, and be prepared to witness against yourself When you are in the wrong. Now agrupneite carries the specific connotation of not sleeping, staying awake. I don’t think Jesus is literally saying to NEVER sleep, I see it here as don’t let other things get in the way of your watchfulness. Don’t get sucked into the minutiae, the back and forth battles Between Red and Blue, Don’t get sucked into your screen, whether frantically updating news headlines Or scrolling forever, down and down your Facebook feed, This sensory numbness, the overload where everything is important, So nothing’s important. Don’t do that. Don’t sleep on God’s activity in the world. Agrupneite! And finally we have grhgorh, And yes this is where the name Gregory comes from. Grhgorh means “watch” in the sense of being circumspect, Being vigilant, paying attention. It’s the command the master gives the slave in verse 34, Translated as “keep awake,” And it’s repeated by Jesus as his final instruction of the passage To his disciples and to us all. It reminds me of an exhortation Herm Weaver gave At an MSMC conference a few years back. He said, “Pay attention to what you pay attention to.” That’s always stuck with me, these days more than ever. So let’s shorten that to help remember, And just say “pay attention.” So here are the instructions Jesus gives for participating in God’s kingdom During uncertain times: Don’t be blinded Bear witness Don’t sleep Pay attention Keep these on your mind this advent season, Like a secret invitation to find where God is moving, To find places to get to work, Even when our tidy narratives break down. To keep looking out for the flow of the Spirit in the midst of disaster, In the midst of waiting, longing for a Savior. But Jesus’ invitation is not to sit back and wait, to go to sleep, To Let it Be, if you will, But to pay attention and be ready for the next chance To get your hands busy in the works of the Spirit. They say faith without works is dead, And hope without work is just a daydream. In troubling times, we turn to God and to the Scripture, To the words of those in times more troubled than our own, We feel with them the pain, the longing, the hope And heed our Lord’s instructions to keep a lookout, To stay awake for when God needs us. We may not know the day or the hour when our wait is over, When our Savior will arrive. But that’s ok with me. We’ve got plenty of work to do before he comes.