“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: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
I like the KJV version here better than how the ESV ends this chapter with merely “Stay awake.” Watchfulness is much more than just propping the eyelids open. Watchfulness means being alert, aware of your surroundings, looking, perceiving, processing information. The term is used in the military, and it means whoever is “on watch” is to be observing, on guard, ready to defend, equipped for battle. Do you remember the account of the selection of Gideon’s mighty men?
“Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”
Why were those 300 chosen? Simply this. They were watchful. They did not put their heads down to the water. They kept their eyes forward and brought the water up to their mouths, so their eyes could scan their surroundings.
What do we watch for?
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Pet 5:8
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 11:25-28