“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark,
39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken, and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house to be broken into.
44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
I remember watching a popular Australian television “Tonight Show” one evening. Someone, somewhere, had predicted that the world would come to an end that very day and had attracted enough publicity to cause the program in question to send a well-known comedian into Melbourne’s streets quizzing random citizens on their preparations for this catastrophe.
Talk of the end of the world or the return of Jesus to planet earth is often treated as a joke, the special concern of weirdos and charlatans. But Jesus himself said that he would come back and take all who follow him to be with him forever. Since Jesus proved his claim to be the Son of God by rising from the dead, his promises need to be taken seriously. His return, “the second coming”, is as certain as the first Christmas, and the first Easter!
Equally certain is the fact that no-one but God knows when it will be. The predictions of self-styled prophets are futile and dangerous: futile, because Jesus used the image of a burglar (hardly likely to pre-announce a visit to your premises!) to picture the unknowable-ness of the timing; dangerous, because they provide ammunition for those who treat the idea with disdain.
What is a sensible response? We must be ready. Jesus could come back at any time, even in the middle of a comedian’s vox-pop interview!
Are you ready?
Steve Messer is a pastor, teacher and musician. He leads Steve Messer’s Strange Country electric-acoustic band.