As I was sitting at the kitchen table at about 8:30 in the morning reading my daily chapters of the Bible, I noticed something in the book of Matthew. In chapters 24 and 25, Jesus tells three different parables to His disciples on the Mount of Olives. In all three He stresses the same lesson: Be ready for Christ’s coming. Let’s take a look at these three parables and figure out how they apply to our lives.
He begins by telling the disciples to pay attention to the example of Noah. Everyone was living their lives without a care in the world until the day Noah entered into the ark. Even Jesus doesn’t know when the day of return will be, let alone us here on Earth.
“42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” – Matthew 24:42-44
In the next lesson, He warns the disciples to stay alert and ready for His return:
“42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. – Matthew 32:42-44
In His final parable, He commands the disciples to be prepared for His coming at all times, so that they aren’t caught unaware by His sudden return.
“1“ Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.b 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” – Matthew 25:1-12
All of these are stern warnings to be prepared for the Lord’s coming. We don’t know when He’s coming back, so we can’t get distracted by earthly things when we don’t even know how long we’ll be here. Jesus’ command flies in the face of the common rationalization that “I’ll have plenty of time. I’ll have some fun now and when I’m an adult I’ll get my life together.” Jesus tells us that we need to be ready.
How do we do that though? We spend our entire earthly lives here….on Earth. It’s so easy to get distracted and forget what we’re working towards. It may be nice to be comfortable, safe, and successful here, but does it really matter? It’s important to have a heavenly perspective of our lives. We’re only here for a little bit.
I love Francis Chan’s analogy for this. Imagine there’s this infinite rope, and the very tip of it is red. Just the first couple inches. The red represents our lives here on Earth. The rest of the rope represents eternity. It just goes on forever and ever and ever. Why do we spend so much time focusing on the red part? What about all the rest of the rope? I think that really helps put it in perspective. Certainly, an eternity of perfection is worth any amount of discomfort we face here on Earth.
I’ve heard it said that if anything is ever said twice in succession in the Bible that you’d better listen to it. I find it a little funny that Jesus tells the same group of people the same thing three times in a row. He must’ve really been trying to hammer this lesson into their heads! I suppose that means we’d better pay attention as well. God’s coming, and He’s coming sooner than you expect. Let’s serve Him well. We only have so much time to tell others about Him. Use it wisely.