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Matthew 24:36-51 is a very appropriate passage for Advent.  The idea of Advent is that we are preparing for Christ to come again as we prepare to celebrate His first coming.  And this passage shows people going about their daily lives and then Jesus will come on a day and at an hour they do not know and they do not expect.  Thus the question, “Are you sleeping?” is another way of saying, “Are you ready for Jesus to come again?”  You can tell if you are sleeping generally by looking at the first time that Christ came.  The people of Bethlehem were sleeping because they were not ready for the birth of their king but instead he was laid in a manger.  Herod in Jerusalem was sleeping because he had all of the children two and under in the region of Bethlehem killed.  Generally speaking, sleeping is not showing hospitality to the message of the gospel and its messengers.  More specifically, from our passage you can see that sleeping is characterized as (1) abusing your power through abuse (also the point with Herod), (2) continuing in lifestyles that are incompatible with faith in Jesus, and (3) stealing from others and especially from those under your care.  Thus if you are abusing your power in physical, sexual, emotional, or other ways or if you are living a lifestyle where you are “sung to sleep by philosophies that save the trees and kill the children” (Casting Crowns, While You Were Sleeping), or if you are slothful or stealing, then you are not ready for Jesus to come like a thief in the night.  And if this tells you what it looks like to be asleep, then it should be easy to think about how one would evidence being awake.

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