It’s a cold, windy, dark morning and starting to really feel like fall. Are you ready? This question begs a discussion about being ready for Jesus’ return. Here we go!
In Matthew, Jesus gives us three lessons about being ready for his return. Actually, this is a continual message that starts from the very beginning – at the Fall – when God discloses a savior who is to come. In Matthew 24-25, he gets really specific. We are all reminded of the verse about not knowing the day or hour, what with all those who predict the exact time for end of the world. But the rest of the discourse is what we should really be paying attention to. Let’s look at the first lesson:
Matthew 24:36-44 “But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Jesus makes it perfectly clear that his return will catch everyone by surprise. His warning is also perfectly clear – be ready! We are to be prepared as though he may suddenly appear before our eyes. We know what that will look like:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immorality.
One could say that chances are we will be among those dead in Christ when he comes. I disagree. This very next second is as likely as any that he will return. We would be foolish to think otherwise. Indeed, Jesus himself warns us to expect him at any moment.
Now, with regard to the rest of the lesson from Matthew, as well as the parables of the ten virgins and of the talents, we clearly see the implications for those who are in and those who are not in Christ. Let’s continue with the first lesson:
Matthew 24:45-51 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom is master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It seems to me that Jesus is making a distinction between believers and non-believers in all three lessons. But, isn’t it possible for believers to be sleeping while on watch? I think so. In fact, I know so. Certainly, there are days when I am more prepared for Jesus’ return than others. Some days, I am totally asleep at my post, relishing in my sin. I doubt if I am alone. I do think Jesus covers this in the parable of the talents. You are all familiar with this:
Matthew 25:28-30 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
What’s the takeaway in all this? Well, I think we all would be wise to stop right now as make an assessment of whether we are about the business of God or of our own. We all know that answer simply by asking the Holy Spirit. What if you indeed are asleep at your post? Not to worry. Wake up fully and attend to the Lord’s work. Don’t know what that is? Find out. Ask God to forgive you (1 John 1:9) and carry on. I guarantee that your mission will include sharing the gospel. So, count your blessings and look around you. Wake up other servants and look for people to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Do as Jesus did.
Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Father, roust your church, starting with me. We need to be fully awake and alert. Don’t let us slumber. Kick our beds. Toss water on us. Whatever it takes, Lord, just wake your church. We have much to do and very little time. Let us not waste any time but rather do your will – always. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers