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The second coming of Jesus to the earth is a central teaching of the New Testament. The particular details of his coming are often debated. One of my seminary professors wrote a book on Revelation. He told the class, “I read over 30 books for my research and they all had different opinions.”
There are two things that we can know about Jesus’ coming. We are 2000 years closer to his return than when he spoke with his disciples on the Mount of Olives.
We may not know all of the details, but we know we are to be prepared. In fact, being prepared was Jesus’ major message to his followers.
Jesus is Coming
The central message of Matthew 24.28-35 tell us that Jesus will return to earth. I am not going to comment on these verses in my article, because I feel my speculation as to their meaning will not add to your understanding.
There are three things that we definitely need to know and practice as we consider Jesus’ return.
(1) The Time of Jesus’ Coming is Unknown
Jesus said, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24.36).
Since even Jesus doesn’t know the time of his return to earth, we should not spend time speculating on when he will come. What is most important is that we live continually in a lifestyle that is acceptable to God.
We have been reading the Gospel of Matthew since early June 2020. The purpose of our study is to learn from Jesus how to live a life like his. If our daily goal and practice is to live a Jesus-kind-of-life, we will be in the best spiritual condition to welcome the return of our Savior.
(2) Jesus’ Coming Will Catch People Unaware.
Jesus said, “For as the days of Noah were, 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 Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left” (Matthew 24.37-41).
During the normal activities of life, the return of Jesus will occur. The entire world will be affected by his return and everything we have given our attention to will dissipate in the face of this cataclysmic event.
Verses 40 and 41 have been used in the concept of the “rapture” of Christians. This is a very popular interpretation that is particularly accepted in America. Whether this is the accurate view of these verses or not is debated among Bible students.
If you read these verses in the context of what Jesus said in this passage, to be “taken” is not necessarily a good thing. When the flood came in Noah’s day, the people who were “taken” died.
I think the best way to understand Jesus’ words is to see that his return will be swift, unexpected and affect the whole earth. The best way to prepare for his coming is to daily live a Jesus-kind-of-life.
(3) People Must Always Be Ready
Jesus said, “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner 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 unexpected hour” (Matthew 24.42-44).
People understand the need to be vigilant against thieves. We put alarms in our vehicles and houses. We watch over our on-line banking and credit card information by protecting ourselves against identity theft.
Jesus’ return to earth will come as unexpectedly as a burglar or identity thief. He instructs to keep awake and to be ready.
How to Keep Spiritually Awake
The parables that follow this instruction in chapters 24 and 25 will give further reasons why it is crucial that we stay awake and ready for Jesus’ return. If we live the Jesus-kind-of-life on a daily basis, we will definitely be ready to meet Jesus.
What are some things we can do to live a life like Jesus?
(1) Keep reading the Gospels. The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) describe for how Jesus lived his life and what he taught about life. We can’t live like Jesus, if we don’t know how he lived and the principles behind his lifestyle.
(2) Read the Bible to connect with God. The Bible is a tool that helps us get in contact with God. Please read the passage slowly, deliberately and prayerfully. Use the Bible more to connect with God than to get more information. This practice will accelerate your life becoming more like Jesus.
(3) Act in faith on what God reveals to you in your prayer and Bible reading time. You can count on God giving you assignments that stretch you and take you out of your comfort zone. As you join God in his activity, you will get to know him better. You will also find yourself becoming more like Jesus in the process.
There are many other things we can do to keep awake and to stay ready. However, I think these three suggestion are a good way to cooperate with Jesus in the transformation of our lives.
Dear Jesus, it is so easy to sleep through life and to not take living a Jesus-kind-of-life seriously. Please help us know how to respond to you, so that we are always ready for your coming.