Summary: We are to practice active waiting in the present, in light of the uncertainties of the future.
Title: Active Waiting (Ref. Israel waited for the Messiah; Mary waited for Jesus’ birth; We wait to celebrate his birth and in anticipation of his Second Coming)
Text: Matthew 24:36-44
Thesis: We are to practice active waiting in the present, in light of the uncertainties of the future.
Sleep or the lack there of is a big deal. They say hypersomnia, i.e., sleeping too much is a hallmark sign of depression. Of course we may cherish a nice nap or a long night of sleep because we are simply exhausted. On the other hand there are those of us who are exhausted because we cannot get a good night of sleep. We call that insomnia. So we have can-sleepers and cannot-sleepers.
I rather like to sleep so I’m not sure if I suffer from laziness or a need to escape the realities of life or if I am genuinely tired or if I just like lolling around on our big ole pillow-top, king-size bed. However, I am reluctant to spend too much time in bed in that one major caveat in spending a lot of time in bed is the solemn reminder that most people die in bed… better to be up and about and active.
There are numerous biblical references to staying awake or keeping watch with regard to the coming of Christ, I don’t think being either an insomniac or a hypersomniac is the issue. Quite frankly an insomniac can be as unprepared as a hypersomniac can be fully prepared for Christ’s return.
In a few weeks we will celebrate the 1st Advent of Christ. People will be wide-awake for Christmas but miss the Christ of Christmas. And at the 2nd Advent of Christ there will be those who are wide-awake when Christ comes and miss out while there will be Christians who are asleep who will not miss out.
There are numerous reasons why people may blow it so Jesus speaks to some of those issues in our text today.
One of the problems with being aware and prepared for the Second Coming of Christ is the uncertainty of it all.
I. Waiting in a world of uncertainty
“No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Matthew 24:36
The ambiguity regarding the actual time of Christ’s return can cause insomnia, so to speak, for some and hypersomnia for others. Knowing that Christ may come at any moment can throw some people into hyper vigilance while the uncertainty of it all can lull others to sleep.
We understand what it means to be uncertain about things. Will the teacher throw a Pop quiz today? Will my baby come on the due date of will the baby arrive early or late? When will I be deployed and will it be a nice gig in Germany or will it be Afghanistan? When will the pathology report come back? Are there going to be lay-offs and will I be the one being laid-off and when will lay-offs occur?
The point of verse 36 is to inform us that there are uncertainties in life and particularly so when it comes to end time events and the coming of Christ. And since we do not know the day or the hour of an impending event or the return of Christ, it is important that we remain attentive. The rest of the passage makes us aware of some of the ways we may be inclined to let our guard down, so to speak.
So we begin by facing the reality of the tension between knowing for sure and not knowing at all.
One of the dangers in not knowing is to lapse into distractedness.
II. Waiting in a world distractions
“When the Son of Man returns it will be like it was in Noah’s day… when the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered the boat.” Matthew 24:37-39
This week I heard on the news that the State of New Jersey is intent on passing new laws with regard to things that distract drivers. The law against texting while driving is already in place but the intent is to expand that law to include snacking or eating, smoking, putting on make-up and so on.
Being distracted while driving may not have significant consequences but sometimes someone dies because a driver is distracted.
In sports we often hear color commentators refer to someone taking their eyes off the ball. The receiver loses his concentration when he anticipates being hit by a linebacker or a receiver ceases to focus on the ball and turns his attention to the run. In my brief foray into the world of golf I soon learned that if you hope to drive the ball off the tee you have to keep your eye on the ball if you expect to hit the ball.