I grew up in a small town in southwest Arkansas on a 40-acre farm that once belonged to my grandfather and then my father. My father was a hard worker. He did oilfield work most of my young life, and this required him to be gone for days—often weeks—at a time. We always looked forward to his return.
We lived about a half mile down a dirt road that led to our property. This dirt road was bordered on each side by pine trees and was rather curvy. The combination of the trees and curves prohibited us from seeing who was coming until they were almost there. When someone came down the road, we could hear the crunch of the gravel and see the dust from the road long before the car came around the last curve and onto the property. My brother and I would look at each other when we heard the crunching gravel and saw the dust. The signs always preceded the arrival. We always secretly wondered if it was Dad coming back suddenly. We expected his return. Could this be him?
In Luke 21:25-36, Jesus was teaching His disciples and the gathered crowd about things that will happen at the end of the age before His coming.
Signs and Surety
Surety means “the state of being sure or certain of something.” I injured my foot about two years ago playing volleyball. I jumped to hit the ball; when I came down, my foot and ankle rolled, and I fell. This wasn’t the first time one of my ankles had given out on me, but this time it felt different. It began to hurt in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I called my wife and remember telling her, “I think I broke my foot. I am going to the urgent care to get it checked.”
I drove myself to the urgent care, where I was seen rather quickly. After the X-ray, the doctor came in, and we viewed the picture together. It was evident that I had a break in my fifth metatarsal on my left foot. While I’d suspected I had broken my foot, the X-ray confirmed my suspicion; it surely was broken. I had surety about my injury.
These signs seem to have a quality to them that will be undeniable; there is surety in these signs. Signs that affect creation, cause anguish in the nations, strike fear in all mankind because we will know something is different; something unprecedented is happening.
That which is signified is the second coming of Christ! This is definitely a hopeful occurrence!
The signs that precede it will not be joyful. They will be full of anxiety and mourning, but those who have placed their trust in Christ will be encouraged to see Him come. He will return as He left, upon the clouds and with power and great glory. Perhaps when the signs begin, we as brothers and sisters will look at one another and say, “Someone is coming, it must be Him!”
For the Christian, the second coming is a hopeful, expectant event. Hope for us is not a verb but a noun. Our hope is the Person of Jesus Christ. What about now? Jesus told us to look up because our redemption draws near. Redemption means “to be released from a captive condition.” The work Christ has begun in us spiritually, physically and emotionally ultimately will be completed when He returns. Until then, we wait and watch.
Signs and Proximity
Jesus used a lesson from creation to understand the proximity or closeness of the kingdom of God. Just like the budding of the trees signifies the nearness of summer, so the aforementioned signs signify the nearness of the kingdom of God. Everything Jesus said in these few verses is meant to accentuate the immanence and suddenness of God’s plan. Do we see these signs present today? In part, yes. Christ can come at any moment. How should we conduct ourselves?
Signs and Readiness
Jesus’ command here is to “take heed to yourselves.” The word for take heed means “to be in a state of alert.” When we are alert, we are aware of what is happening all around us. He doesn’t want us to be weighed down by the sins and cares of this world and have His return come upon us unexpectedly. This is already the fate of those who are not His. Jesus’ word of caution is, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.”
We need to be ready for His return because it is sure and immanent. We need to share the gospel so others can share in the hope we have for Christ’s return. We need to wait and watch. There will come a day when we all look at one another and say, “Someone’s coming, it must be Him!” What a joyous day that will be!