28 November 2010Matthew 24:36-44
"Therefore you must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." (v. 44)
Children playing hid and seek - the seeker counts loudly so that
the hiders can hear. Then they cry out, "Coming - ready or not!"
This couldn't be more different to Jesus' words about his second
coming. We will only know that he is coming, when he has arrived.
There will be no warnings!
This passage is part of Jesus' apocalyptic discourse which takes place in the last few days before his crucifixion. Fittingly it comes at the being of Advent -the season in the Church's year when it prepares itself both to celebrate the coming of Jesus being born in an Bethlehem stable, and to await the second coming of Jesus.
In these verses Jesus makes it clear that no one will know when he will return - not even the Son of God himself. Speculation about when it will be is therefore pointless and could even be said to be blasphemous. It is not up to us to second guess God.
But it will be sudden - that much is clear. Jesus backs this up with a number of examples - people in the field, women grinding corn. In the face of this we can only prepare ourselves for that time and be watchful, unlike the contemporaries of Noah who were taken unawares by the flood, and the houseowner surprised by the thief.
Imagine yourself to be one of the people in the field or one of the women grinding corn. As you discover that Jesus has returned, what might you want to say to the other person? This might be the thing that prevents you from being separated from them.
If you knew that Jesus was coming back next week or even tomorrow - is there anything you would want to do or say? What is stopping you from doing it now?
Does the whole idea of the second coming excite or frighten you? Why?