Day 224: Matthew 24:42-44

Watch out, then, because you do not know what day your Lord will come. If the owner of a house knew the time when the thief would come, you can be sure that he would stay awake and not let the thief break into his house. So then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him.

[The disciples want to know when Jesus will return and the New Age will begin.  Jesus replies, “No one knows the day or the hour.”  This is one of several scriptures that further illustrates this statement.  For more on the Second Coming see Day 150.  For more on the Messiah see Day 145.  For more on the End of the Age see Day 128.]

The disciples have asked Jesus how they will know he is ready to return.  Why would they want to know?  On Day 172 Peter asked Jesus this question, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.  What will we have?”  The disciples have left their families and friends and jobs and property.  They have no money and no homes.  While they have seen miracles and heard revolutionary teachings, it has also been a confusing journey.  And now, according to Jesus, their walk with him will be coming to an end in the very near future.

Each of them will have to decide what to do next.  They could try to keep the Jesus movement going, or they could go back to their old lives and pick up where they left off.  Or maybe, if they knew exactly when he was coming back, they could do both.  They could return to their families, restart their careers, and rebuild their lives.  They could get down and do a little partying to make up for lost time. Good food, good drink, physical intimacy, and all the other earthly pleasures the carnal life offers.  Then, when the time of Jesus’ expected return approached, they could repent and jump back on the Jesus bandwagon and he would be none the wiser.

After all, they are probably tired.  They’ve been on the road for a long time.  They have been exposed to a lot of weird stuff.  The religious authorities are all angry with them.  What if they made a mistake following Jesus?  What if it was all for nothing?

On the other hand, what if Jesus was telling the truth?  They wanted to be sure that they would not lose the eternal life that Jesus promised them on Day 172: You can be sure that when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne in the New Age, then you twelve followers of mine will also sit on thrones, to rule the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake, will receive a hundred times more and will be given eternal life.”

They don’t want to blow it and get shut out at the last minute.  Take the case of Moses.  He gave up his possible future as a ruler of Egypt to avenge the death of a Hebrew slave.  He gave up his quiet life in the country to challenge the Pharaoh to free all of the slaves.  He led the freed slaves to freedom, spoke to God one on one like one speaks to a friend, and exhorted the people to obey a complicated set of Laws that God communicated to him.  He gave up 40 years of his life leading the Hebrews through the desert, only to be shut out of the Promised Land at the last minute because he got angry with the people for complaining.  He made a mistake and it messed everything up.  Moses begged God to let him enter the “land of milk and honey” at the end of their long journey, but he had blown it:

“At that time I earnestly prayed, Sovereign Lord, I know that you have shown me only the beginning of the great and wonderful things you are going to do. There is no god in heaven or on earth who can do the mighty things that you have done!  Let me cross the Jordan River, Lord, and see the fertile land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon Mountains.’

“But because of you people the Lord was angry with me and would not listen. Instead, he said, ‘That’s enough! Don’t mention this again!  Go to the peak of Mount Pisgah and look to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west. Look carefully at what you see, because you will never go across the Jordan.  Give Joshua his instructions. Strengthen his determination, because he will lead the people across to occupy the land that you see.’”

Jesus, of course, didn’t believe in taking time off from serving God.  Jesus always stressed that everything we do is important.  On Day 15 he talked about how salt is worthless when it loses its saltiness.  He often criticized the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  He said that every bad thing we do affects everyone around us, so we never get to take a vacation from doing the right thing – which is, of course, determining and obediently following God’s will for each of our individual lives.  He admonished his disciples on Day 60 to carefully focus on entering the narrow gate.

In an attempt to keep them focused, Jesus treats them like children.  They want to know when he will return, and he tells them that he will be like the crafty thief that breaks in on their lives when they least expect it.  He tells them they have to be constantly on their guard because he wants them to live their lives as though each day was their last.  He wants them to approach each day with expectancy and optimism.  He wants them to use every possible opportunity to do good deeds and spread the word about God’s will for humankind.  Because it’s the right thing to do.  And even if they only do it because they are afraid that Jesus will catch them fooling around, that’s OK with him.  If that’s what it takes to keep them in line he will settle for that, because he knows they will thank him later.

What does this scripture say to you?

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