Summary: All people should live in readiness for the end (2nd coming or death) by doing what God commands now.
Procrastination. It’s a universal part of the human experience isn’t it? We put off doing the things we’re supposed to be doing because we figure we have time to get to it later. Some people seem like professional procrastinators. Students get assignments at the beginning of the term and then up bragging out the “all nighters” they pulled off in order to get the project or report finished on time. Children who have a certain amount of time to get their chores done will inevitably wait until the final moment, then scurry around frantically to get the jobs done. And when it comes to Christmas shopping, men seem to believe that there is something really “festive” about waiting until the 23rd or 24th to finally start thinking about what to get for those close to them!
For some reason, when we think we have lots of time, it creates in us a feeling of laziness and inattention that can be hard to snap out of when it is time to get busy again.
Jesus lived and walked this earth about 2000 years ago. That’s a long time ago. And when he was on the earth, one of the things he talked about and that those who were closest to him believed in was the fact that he was going to leave them, but then would return again to set up His Kingdom. You find this throughout his teachings in the gospel and in the other books of the New Testament.
But another thing that Jesus taught was that no one really knew when this return was going to take place. And so, for 2000 years now, believers have been in the difficult position of having to live life as if Jesus might return at any moment, and yet with each passing year having the knowledge that it’s been another year and he still hasn’t returned.
Since I was a young boy and my parents read “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey I’ve been hearing people say that Jesus is coming back any day. I’m sure that those of you who are older than me have heard such statements for much longer. History shows that for 2000 years people have looked at what is going on and felt sure that the 2nd coming of Christ was imminent. This can make me, and perhaps others, grow complacent about the reality that he IS coming back, and it really could be soon.
Jesus knew this would be difficult for those he walked the earth with, as well as for those of us who would follow thousands of years later. And he told a couple of stories to help us think through the way we should live our lives in the light of his mysteriously long absence. His point which he makes throughout these stories, is that people need to be living as if they are ready and waiting for His return.
If you have your Bible with you please turn with me Matthew 24. Context: In this entire chapter Jesus has given some of the “signs of the times” when the end would come.
Matthew 24:42-51 (NIV)
42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But 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 be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ’My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus then goes on to tell another story, this time about ten virgins who are like bridesmaids at a wedding. In order to make sense of Jesus’ story, we need to understand a bit about Jewish wedding customs. Traditionally, the groom would leave from his house and travel, after sun-down to the bride’s home, and then he would take the bride back to his house, where the ceremonies and celebrations would continue for a couple of days.