Summary: Jesus tells us to be watchful, to be ready, for his second coming.
Matthew 24:37-44 Are You Preparing or Procrastinating?
Our lives are filled with the unexpected. The events that took place in September were unexpected – very sad events. Our lives are filled with unexpected good things as well – maybe a surprise birthday party, or a surprise bonus from your place of work (that really would be a surprise this year). Last year at this time, what was the big thing on the news – something unexpected? The election controversy! Our lives are filled with unexpected things.
The second coming of Christ will be one of those unexpected things – you won’t see it coming, but it will happen – it’s on the calendar, we just don’t know when. Of all the unexpected things that take place in our world, this one will be the biggest surprise of them all.
Today is the first Sunday of the Advent season in the church year. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” Jesus is coming – his arrival is just around the corner – and that is what we focus on during the Advent season. The Advent season is four Sundays long, which is why we have the four Advent candles – each candle is lit as we progress through the Advent season, until we reach Christmas, when we celebrate Christ’s first arrival as a baby in Bethlehem.
Today, we plan on focus on Christ’s second arrival. Instead of coming as a humble baby, Jesus will come as a powerful, divine king. That’s why the Advent colors of the church year are blue and purple, the colors of royalty, the colors of a king. This morning, I want you to ask yourself: Am I prepared for that day? Or, am I procrastinating? Am I getting ready for that unexpected day when Jesus returns?
Jesus tells us to get ready in Matthew 24. He tells us that most people won’t be ready – he compares the world at Judgment Day to the world at the time of the flood: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 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; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” What was wrong with those people at the time of the flood? They weren’t ready. They had no relationship with God. Their entire lives revolved around earthly things, and nothing else. I’m sure they all knew about Noah, the man building the boat in the desert. But they ignored that. They ignored having any real type of relationship with God. And then the flood came, and took them all away.
Jesus goes on to say, “This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” People will be left behind when Jesus arrives. It is interesting how an entire series of fictional books have been based on these verses – the Left Behind series. The basic idea in those fictional books is that the world will keep on running, but people will disappear. And while that’s interesting to think about, you have to remember that the Left Behind series is fictional, not Biblical. When you take this passage and line it up with all the other passages in the Bible about the end of the world, you get a very different picture of what will happen on Judgment Day.
Imagine that the end of the world would take place at 5:00 this afternoon. What do you normally do at 5:00 on a Sunday afternoon? At that moment, everything will stop. Everything is done. You will hear the trumpet call of God, the voice of the archangel. According to the Bible, all the dead will be physically raised to life. You and all the other believers will be caught up into the sky to be with Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). That’s what these verses are referring to. What about the unbelievers who are left behind? Jesus tells us in John 5 that he will judge them and throw them immediately into hell (John 5:28-29). Then the world as we know it will be destroyed, and some kind of new heaven and earth will be created, a place where believers can worship God free from sin. That’s how God describes the last day in his Word.
Are you preparing for this day? Or, are you procrastinating? A spiritual procrastinator is someone who’s not ready. Someone who says, “Eventually I’ll get my act together spiritually. But not right now. I have too much going on.” Is our world ready for Jesus’ second coming? The media would have you believe that it is. According the media, a mass spiritual revival has taken place in our country, due to the events of September 11. Churches are thronged with new faces! But the reality is, attendance did rise for a little while, but according to most statistics, is now just about back to where it was in August. Most people are still unprepared for the arrival of Christ.