November 28, 2010
Matthew 24:36-44

Jesus just comes right out and says it: You don’t know, and you’re not going to know. When it comes to the day of the second coming, there isn’t an end-of-times equation that can calculate the year, month or day when it will happen.

“I don’t even know, and I’m the Son of God,” He told them. “What makes you think you are going to know when it is?” You almost can sense the sarcasm in Jesus’ voice. For 2,000 years, people have been predicting the day Jesus would return, and for 2,000 years people have gotten it wrong.

We Need to Be Ready
Jesus provided His audience with an example from the Old Testament. Noah proclaimed a message much like Jesus, in that something important is coming for which we need to be ready. Yet the people ignored the warnings and even mocked Noah for his preparedness. It was business as usual for most people. Friends were getting together at restaurants for a nice meal; families were planning elaborate wedding ceremonies; businessmen were opening their doors for another day of trading.

It’s important to know Jesus was not implying that worldly tasks are unimportant. This isn’t a biblical call for everyone to quit their jobs and hit the street corners with posters and huge leather Bibles, preaching a turn-or-burn message. Jesus simply says to keep your priorities in order. For most people, worldly living takes the place of living a godly life. The call of personal holiness had been replaced by the call of the almighty gold coin. Because the people became so consumed with daily tasks, the idea of a potential second coming in the future became irrelevant.

Then Jesus began to set up the solution. He started out by saying that time is of the essence. There will not be an opportunity to be saved once the events of the end times are put into motion. There will be two people working beside each other and suddenly one will be gone. There will be no announcement, no one on a loud speaker saying, “The store closes in 10 minutes; this is your last chance for salvation.” There is no mass text message or annoying forwarded emails that will go out to remind everyone of the countdown. Jesus simply said, “Be ready.”

There are four times in Scripture when the second coming of Jesus is compared to a thief coming in the night. Jesus wasn’t saying He is coming at night. He isn’t implying that you’ll be asleep and He’s going to kick in the door and grab you and your flat-screen TV before He leaves. He isn’t comparing Himself to a lawbreaker or felon. He simply means people won’t know when He is coming, so we have to take certain steps to prepare. Be ready at all times by living a sanctified life. Be ready at all times because you never know when He’ll be back. Be ready at all times, because if you’re not ready when He comes, it will be too late.

When I was little, the day after Thanksgiving meant one thing to me: the countdown to Christmas. I had heard the stories growing up that Santa was watching to make sure I was being good. So with Dec. 25 right around the corner, I wanted to make a last-minute push at perfection. For the month of December, I ate my vegetables, cleaned my room, did whatever my parents told me, and tried to be extra nice to family and friends. I knew something was coming, a payday of sorts. I thought that as long as I made a strong effort at being good, I may be able to land a few extra presents when the jolly elf made his stop.

However, being a follower of Christ isn’t like believing in Santa. True discipleship means faithful stewardship of time, energy and resources, not simply guessing when to be good and when you can let down your guard. Jesus is looking for true followers, ones who constantly are preparing for His return. It’s time to stop guessing and start living a life sold out for Him.

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