Things Known and Unknown
Mighty God, You are adept at bringing cosmos out of chaos, sight with mud and spittle, life from death; all to Your glory.
Read MATTHEW 24:36-44
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In what ways might the apparent delay in Jesus’ return have dulled your senses?
An old Chinese proverb says, “To prophesy is extremely difficult, especially with regard to the future”–but there is no shortage of people trying to do just this. The Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world for December 21, 2012. A late radio personality announced “judgment day” on his home page as May 21, 2011. The website even had the nerve to state, “The Bible guarantees it.” Such predictions do us no service, for they provoke a cynical response: this is the world of religious fanaticism, the world of the weird and wacky.
Today’s passage injects both realism and urgency. It underlines that we have no idea when that final day of judgment will come–the text is insistent about that (36,42,44; 25:13)–but Jesus declares that it will happen, so we must be prepared. The story of Noah reminds us that it was while people carried out their normal activities, business as usual, that judgment arrived unexpectedly (38,39). As we carry out our work or look after our family (40,41), the day will suddenly arrive. To make the point, the Biblical writers often used the provocative image of a homeowner and a thief (Joel 2:9; 1 Thess. 5:2,4; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15). Of course, thieves rarely announce their arrival in advance, but if they did, the homeowner would take every precaution and would watch carefully.
There is no way of knowing when the Son of Man will come (why so many attempted predictions?), so the only sensible course of action is constant readiness. Delay, of course, can dull our senses, but Jesus’ words of warning in today’s passage should heighten our expectation and call us to keep watch (42,44). Be prepared!
Think for a while about the areas of your life which betray the fact that you are not truly ready for Christ’s return. What are they and what can you do about them?
Lord God, You are father, friend and helper. Thank You that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).