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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

No One Knows When He Will Return

Yet, people just can't stop speculating.

Luke 12:35-40 (ESV)

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

It’s interesting that Jesus talks about His return when He hasn’t even left yet. He has mentioned that He’s leaving, but His disciples didn’t understand it. Jesus will hammer the point, over and over, that we must not assume to know when He’s coming back. Still, we’ve had no end of theories of when it will be.

Here Jesus uses two parables to illustrate how important this is, first about servants standing watch waiting for their master, then another about a master being unprepared for a thief. The contrast between the two illustrations couldn’t be more stark.

In the first, a servant will be rewarded gloriously if he doesn’t fall asleep while on duty in the wee small hours of the morning. In the second, the master would not have suffered a loss if he had known had known at what hour the thief was coming.

This combination is quite clever. By using two opposite illustrations, Jesus prevents other issues from distracting us from His point. We don’t need to figure out whether we’re analogous to masters or servants; both are used. We can’t fret over whether this is about rewards or punishments; both are illustrated here.

It’s a sermon with only one point.

Be ready.

And here we are, 2000 years later and we still get an occasional prediction of when the second coming will be. Given the Lord’s clear instruction that we aren’t going to know, it’s doubly surprising that the crazies who make these predictions claim to make them based on the Bible.

But what does it mean to be ready? How is that different from just being a serious Christian?

It isn’t really. Jesus is emphasizing the importance of the tasks before us. Speculating on the time of Christ’s return is a “spectator” activity, like betting on the outcome of a football game you’re not involved in. If you’re actually involved in the game, you don’t have time for idle speculation on the outcome.

Jesus is saying, “Keep your head in the game,” and don’t lose focus.

The ref could call time at any moment.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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