Matthew 24:36-44 is part of the Olivet discourse or Olivet prophecy. It is also called the little apocalypse because it is reminiscent of the book of Revelation. Apocalyptic writings are a symbolic genre, a point that literal interpretations often overlook. One of the mandates in the passage is to watch. What could that mean? A night watchman was a common task in cities, farms and villages. However, the task of a watchman was vigilance and that is the sense of the wording here. Similar wording is also used a little later in Matthew 26:41 where we are encouraged to watch and pray that we do not give into temptation. In the context of the prophecy, Jesus encouraged disciples to be ready at all times, because he is coming at an hour when we do not think he will.