Preparing for the Known, or Hoping for the Unknown

One of the hallmarks of Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ will come again.  When the Lord ascended into heaven, His apostles were told, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).  Ever since then, God’s people have been waiting for His return.  The word of God promises His return and gives assurances that “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7).  This belief is a great source of comfort and encouragement for all Christians (1Thess. 4:13-18).

While Christians are confident that Christ will come again, none of us know when He will come.  Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36).  God has determined that it is not for us to know when the Lord will return, just as He did not disclose beforehand the time of the great flood, the time of Christ’s coming to earth, or the time that He would send the Holy Spirit.  Jesus told His apostles, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7).

Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to live each day in anticipation of the Lord’s return.  Never should a day pass for a Christian without considering the Lord’s coming.  Although there are many distractions in this world, the thought of the Lord’s second coming should never be far from our minds.  The fact that He could come at any moment should capture our attention, for His coming is as certain as the Lord Himself, and every one of us will witness it.  It should be the most anticipated day in the history of the world.

Jesus instructed His disciples to be ready for His return by teaching two parables in Luke 12.  The first of these parables is about the expectant slaves (vv. 35-40).  The Lord taught that just as the master would reward his slaves for being alert for him when he came from the wedding feast, so also will Jesus reward His servants who are ready for Him when He returns from heaven.  In verse 39, Jesus used the example of a thief who is able to break into a house because the head of the house did not know when the thief would come.  The application of this example is that the Lord’s servants will be caught off guard if they are not prepared for Him at all times.  The moral of the Lord’s teaching is stated in verse 40 – “You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”

The second parable is about faithful and unfaithful stewards (vv. 41-48).  The faithful steward is the one who oversees his master’s estate faithfully at all times without regard to when the master will return.  Such a steward will be rewarded.  The unfaithful steward is the one who assumes the master will be a long time in coming and therefore abuses his stewardship, hoping to correct the situation just prior to his master’s return.  However, the master will come when the unfaithful steward is not expecting him, and the unfaithful steward will be severely punished.  The application of this parable is obvious, but there is a special emphasis given to Christians who are not prepared for the Lord’s coming.  Christ said, “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few” (vv. 47-48).

In these parables, we see the wisdom of being prepared, the foolishness of being unprepared, and the truth that the time of our Lord’s return is unknown to any of us.  A Christian has no excuse for failing to be prepared at all times, for the word of God is replete with warnings and promises of the Lord’s return.  Paul wrote, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day” (1Thess. 5:4-5).  The lesson is that we should prepare for what we do know rather than hoping for what we do not know.  In other words, we know that the Lord could come at any time, so we should prepare for Him in anticipation of His imminent coming.  We should not gamble with the day, neglect our service to Christ, indulge our lustful passions, and hope that He does not come while we do these things.  Therefore, let us be prepared, act on that which we know for certain, and have the attitude of Paul, who wrote, “Maranatha,” meaning, “Lord, come!”

Stacey E. Durham


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