Summary: Are you ready for Jesus to come or to give you your last heartbeat? Either way, you will meet Jesus and give an account. All Biblical quotes are from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.

What would you do different if you knew Jesus was coming for you today. Think about it. Whether Jesus physically returns as we have read about, that he will come for His people, the church, or Jesus grants you your last breath, your last heartbeat? If you knew that was going to happen this afternoon,

what would you do different?

The story is told of Martin Luther that one day, while he was hoeing his garden, a friend came to visit and asked what he would do if he knew Christ was returning that very day. Luther is supposed to have answered, “I’d just keep on hoeing my garden.” I’ve heard this story told by preachers several times to illustrate the point that, if we are constantly in the center of God’s will, whatever we are doing is exactly appropriate for us to keep on doing, even if we knew the timing of the end of the world. [1]

I suppose that if I knew my life would be over this afternoon, I would spend the time in my relationships, with my wife, my family and my church family and especially with God. But this is the difference between short and long range planning. The point is, there should not be anything in our lives that we would be ashamed. But here is our problem and the problem of many, when we assume that the end of life on this earth is much delayed and a long way off, we put off, getting our house in order, getting right with the Lord, doing those things we know we ought to be doing. We are basically procrastinators.

We tire of hearing over and over that we are living in the last days, we are the last generation before the end, before Jesus returns. I have been hearing it my entire life and I’m 66 years old. We have grown callous to the warning calls. But Jesus’ message he gave to His disciples from the Mount of Olives still ring true and is relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. That message is to be ready.

Matthew 24:42–51

As we study through Jesus’ Olivet Discourse we are coming to a series of parables Jesus uses to illustrate His message. The theme for the next three parables is summed up in verse 42:

Matthew 24:42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

The first two parables we will cover today and third parable we will look at next week. Each has parable has its unique teaching, but all three follow the central theme: Jesus’s coming will be unannounced, unexpected, and the time and hour is unknown.

The first parable of the thief in the night is the fact that time of the coming of Christ is completely unknown and totally unexpected.

The next parable of the unfaithful servant stresses the coming of the Lord is sooner than expected.

And the parable in which we will deal with next week, the parable of the 10 bridesmaids deals with Jesus return that is later than expected.

Jesus covers all the bases. Sooner or later and it will be sudden and unexpected His coming for us. We are told we not to worry about when, though we can know when the time is drawing short, but we are called to watch and be ever ready.

The expression in verse 42 of “your Lord” is significant. It is the only place in the Matthew’s gospels where this is used. It draws attention to the fact that Jesus is our Lord, he is our master, and we are accountable to Him. He will call us to account when He returns.

Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

We need to be very careful here. When we call Jesus “my Lord” do we really mean it. Come that day, that day when Jesus does come, everyone, including the Christian, must give an account. Jesus asks the question:

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

But when Jesus comes, what will He find us doing? His will or our own will?

Jesus also says in verse 42: “be on the alert.” We are to live expectantly as if Jesus would call us at any moment. Don’t bet your eternity that he will delay his coming. Jesus gives an example, a short parable about His unexpected and unannounced return:

Matthew 24:43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

The question here is not if the thief will come, but when. The guard must be set and be always on the ready. Things often do not go according to plan. Circumstances change, but the call to be ready never changes. When will the thief come? The thief will come when he is least expected. So will the coming of Jesus.

Matthew 24:44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

For that matter, so will the end of our lives. It will come when we expected it the least. Again I must emphasize that whether Jesus physically comes or we take our last breath, either way, we will meet Jesus.

The call is twofold. First, the call is for those who are delaying putting their trust in Jesus for salvation. It is not a matter of belief. James tells us in James 2:19 that the demons believe and shudder.

I had a young man tell me once that there were things he wanted to do before he put his trust in Jesus. It was not a matter of mere belief. He knew what he needed to do. How tragic is that when you consider that your next heartbeat is not guaranteed. Not only that, nowhere in Scripture does it say the invitation from God to accept Jesus is open ended. The Word tells us:

John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

If God is calling you to Jesus, the time to accept His free gift of salvation is right then and there. The Word tells us “Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2b).

If God stops inviting, discontinues drawing one to Christ, there will be no inclination of the one who delayed to ever go back. In reality, there are precious few deathbed conversions.

I have been called to the deathbed of several whose eternal fate was very much in question. One man told me to go away, he wanted nothing to do with God. He died the next day. Another man was in and out of consciousness and there was no guarantee he heard anything I had to say, much less respond to gospel which I had spoken to him. He died shortly there after as well. There is coming a time for all people when it will be too late to come to Jesus.

Second, the warning Jesus makes is for the Christian. We have spoken in the past about the judgment for believers:

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

We will get rewards for what we have done good, and we will forfeit rewards for things left undone, or negative things we have done, as saved believers. What will Jesus find us doing when he come, or calls us home? Will He find us faithfully doing His will?

Matthew 24:45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?

Who? Who indeed. Am I that faithful servant? Are you? The faithful servant was not to stand and watch for the master, but to carry out the will of the master.

Matthew 24:46–47 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

Are we, will we be found to be that faithful servant? There are rewards for those who are found faithful. A servant who can be found trustworthy in a few things can be trusted in more.

Matthew 24:48–49 But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;

This slave is not the believer that turns bad, or caught in a sin and losses his or her salvation. We do not believe that the truly saved will ever lose salvation, we do believe in a loss of rewards.

This is a slave that had no regard for the master. All are called, but few will respond. This is the one who says Jesus will delay His coming and I have plenty of time to get my house in order, to make peace with my creator, to come and truly trust in Jesus. To say I will do as Jesus desires later.

This slave fully knew what he needed to do. what his master wanted done, yet failed to do it. Purhaps this slave thought that his master would never return, so why not do as he wanted.

To procrastinate, to say there is always tomorrow is a most dangerous notion. Tomorrow might never come.

Matthew 24:50–51 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Such will the coming of Jesus be like. Sooner than we expect. How will He find us and what will we be found doing. For the unsaved, it will be too late. Cut in pieces was an ancient phrase to mean horrific punishment. To be assigned with the hypocrites was negative thing. Hypocrites are brought up relatedly in Matthew. These are those who pretend to be something else. There are those who pretend to be Christians, but are not. It is clear their punishment will be severe.

The phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is found often in Jesus’s teaching. It means there will great remorse. It reflects the great agony and suffering experienced by the lost and condemned.

In Luke parallel passage, the ending is slightly different.

Luke 12:47–48a And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.

These verses are arguably among the clearest text in scripture that support degrees of punishment in hell. And here it is clear. The greater punishment goes to the one who knows the will of God and chooses not to do it. The one whom God draws to Jesus and yet refuses or thinks in his heart that he can always wait to later will only store up God’s wrath come that day of judgment.

Romans 2:5–6 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:

Are you ready for Jesus?

[1] Craig Blomberg, Preaching the Parables: From Responsible Interpretation to Powerful Proclamation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 192.