But see that you are on your guard! I have told you all this beforehand.
with a relaxed gaze
for deliberate harm
for trickster coyote
irony and laughter
assurance of abundance
“Watch out” has a future cast about it. This is not simply an old saw, “take care of today and tomorrow will take care of itself.” It is asking us to attend to consequences as much as we do causes. Without attending to consequences we don’t know how to take care of today.
And around we go, again.
Ahead of time, Jesus has told of his suffering, death, and rising. Ahead of time, each of us can anticipate suffering, death, and rising. No matter what partnerships we have made, how many resources we have available to ourselves, how attentive we are to today and tomorrow, or what goals and intentions we still hold to, there is no escaping suffering, death. Rising continues to be a trust issue.
While most of the focus of this form of “Watch Out!” is oriented toward what is yet to come, it also acts as transition point between the tribulations that are human caused and those that would affect our understanding of creation and lead to a change of heart. What we have been dealing with are matters of survival in the body and in the community. Yet to come are those shakings of a framework not limited to personal and communal breathing.
To review Jesus’ response to a request for signs and times of an end, between “Watch out you don’t fall for lies” (verse 5) and “Watch out!” (this verse)—every question about signs and times is a false question that only gives rise to saying more than can be known. Standard understandings of the frailty and fallibility of all things are always in order. Don’t presume, in any easy moment, that all unexpected consequences have been vanquished. This little inclusio began with a warning against deception and ends with a statement that claims of false leaders (Christs and Prophets) are and will be present.
The test of this and every signless wilderness will be a persistence to go deeper into it and finally know its shallowness.