v 35. You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak.
We all love certainty, and so down the ages different groups of people have expressed absolute certainty about the date of Jesus’ return to earth. This is one of the areas where Jesus encourages uncertainty. But this is an uncertainty that motivates rather than discourages us. It keeps us on our toes, watching and waiting for the dawn of this eternal new age under the rule of Jesus.
There have been times, certainly in my experience, when there has been a great deal of discussion and debate about the events surrounding the return of Jesus. Much of this has centred round the period of ‘A Thousand Years’ mentioned in Revelation 20, and whether or not Christian Believers will find themselves caught up in a time of Great Tribulation. If you want to read more of that debate you can look up ‘Premillennial’, ‘Postmillennial’ and ‘Great Tribulation’ on Google and Wikipedia. Theories and theological tomes surrounding the interpretation of the Book of Revelation abound!
The main issue, as Jesus talks about these events, is the not the timing of them however, but our preparedness for them on a daily basis. It is of no use to sit around arguing about ‘When’. The real question is ‘Are you ready right now to face what it would mean for Jesus to return to earth today?’ Perhaps I ought to re-phrase that question in fact. ‘Are you living in the presence of Jesus today?’ If you are living as He wants you to, then the prospect of His return right now holds no fear of being ashamed when He does. Being watchful is to live motivated by love and exhibiting grace in relationships.
The first part of this chapter, which we read yesterday, outlines difficult days and a great deal of suffering as we await Jesus’ return. Whatever else we believe about these ‘End Days’ it does seem that the world will not become a better place to live – it may indeed become a far worse place than we can ever imagine. But that can be no excuse for giving up on the life of holiness to which Jesus calls us.
I find it helpful to think in terms of ‘Today is the Day’; I want to live today as if I might have to give account of it when evening comes. Whilst we have no certainty about dates and times, (much as we would like to!) with live with the certainty of an actual day in history that will see Jesus taking His place on the throne for all to see. Jesus was a Man like no other, allowing uncertainty in matters of belief about His return to earth.