Summary: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…so you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” Matt. 24:42, 44.
Theme: Stay Awake
Text: Is. 2:1-5; Rom. 13:11-14; Matt. 24:37-44
Today is ‘Senior Citizens Day’ and here at Covenant everyone above seventy is a senior citizen. We congratulate you all on reaching this important milestone and join you to thank the Lord for His many blessings. Today is also the 1st Sunday of Advent reminding us that very soon we will be celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? The birth of Christ was a fulfilled promise and this should also remind us that His promise to return would also be fulfilled. During the Second World War a Protestant theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for criticising Hitler. Even in prison he continued to urge fellow believers to resist Nazi oppression although this led to severe punishments. A group of Christians, believing that Hitler was the Antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer, “Why do you expose yourself to all this suffering? Jesus will return any day, and all your work and suffering would have been for nothing.” Bonhoeffer replied, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I will rest from my labour. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it is finished.” Bonhoefer knew and understood the Scriptures that it was not his duty to determine when the Lord would return. He understood that it was his duty to stay awake and be ready for the Lord’s return.
Christ has promised He will return and we can be certain that He will. We can be certain because many of the things that He said and promised have already been fulfilled. His death and resurrection, His ascension to heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit happened just the way He said they would. The fulfilment of these events confirms that all that He said that had not yet been fulfilled would also be fulfilled. Christ has also promised that on that day every believer would be with Him. The Scriptures confirm that He has prepared a place for them in heaven and His words to us are “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). When Christ returns will He find us awake and waiting? Or will He find us asleep?
Why are people more concerned about the time of Christ’s return than about the certainty of it? It is for the same reason why workers want to know when the boss is returning? It is also for the same reason why children left at home alone want to know when their parents are returning? When we know when someone is coming back, then we also know for how long we can do what we want to do. When we are careful about the time we can still get ready and no one would know what we had done. Like in the days of Noah people today are doing what they want to do and ridicule the warning about Christ’s return. Just as in Noah’s day the people laughed at him when he warned of the coming judgment, so today people are not taking the Christian message of salvation and the Second Coming of Christ seriously. And just as the flood brought sudden judgment to the world, so the return of Christ will do the same and unbelievers will once again face death and judgment. And just as the ark saved Noah, even so Jesus Christ will become the “ark of safety” for those who have put their trust in Him. Are you ready for the return of the Lord? If Jesus came back today would you rejoice or would you be sad? Would you be happy with your life or would you be embarrassed and ashamed of your life?
How do we prepare for Christ’s return so as not to be embarrassed or ashamed? How can we be sure that we are ready? The only way to prepare and be ready for Christ’s return is to become a Christian and to live the Christian life. And the only way to become a Christian is to trust Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. We can only trust Him when we believe that it was because of our sinfulness that He had to shed His blood and that His shed blood has cleansed us from sin and imputed to us God’s own righteousness, a righteousness that had never known sin. Our salvation and the nearness of the Lord’s return should motivate us to a life of high moral conduct. We must put on the Lord Jesus Christ. This means we must submit to His Lordship, accept His moral standards, live in constant fellowship with Him and depend on His strength. We are to make no provision for the flesh, doing nothing to foster its sensual desires and appetites. How can we say we trust Christ completely and not live the Christian life? How can we say we love Christ and yet do not read His words? Or how can we say we believe His words and yet not obey Him? The Christian life is a life that pleases God; it is a life that is fruitful. What does Jesus see when He looks at our lives? Will He be pleased with us?