Summary: Jesus emphasizes, not the time of His coming, but whether when He comes He will find us watching and ready.
When our ship was in dry dock, I was assigned a watch in the barracks one night. I don’t remember what the problem was, I usually did not have this problem, but that night I was very sleepy. Since it was my own barracks I was roaming, I slipped into my room and lay down ... just for a moment. About a half hour after my watch was to be over, I heard a banging on my door. and the watch supervisor came in to find me sprawled out on my bed.
I was too frightened even to apologize. The standard punishment for this sort of low level lapse of duty was 10 days in the brig, accompanied by a fine and three days bread and water. I did not get into trouble, but he was not happy. I think it was too much effort to write me up.
This was a peace time, a quiet night on a base beneath several layers of guard. A very non-risk situation. The watch here was perfunctory. The punishment in higher risk situations is much more serious. Jesus gives us the ultimate.
A general framework for two things:
• The end of Jerusalem
• And the end of the world, including His own second coming
The end of Jerusalem happened just as He said, in the days of that generation, AD 70 when the Romans marched against it and destroyed it, disbanding the citizens.
Our passage begins with Jesus’ bold words about the end of the world. He says that His words are more enduring than the Universe itself. It is the natural next question to ask, when this will happen.
I remember a book coming out at the end of the 1970s that declared that Jesus was coming back in 1984. Of course, because of George Orwell’s book, many people had dire predictions for that year, and yet, it came and went like most other years.
I find it odd that so many people want to pinpoint the date of Jesus’ second coming. It is odd, because Jesus refused to answer the question of the exact timing since He himself did not know. What kind of arrogance does it take to try to speak of something that Jesus confessed ignorance on? Certainly, the process of God becoming man created some unique situations for Him, but even as a man, God knows more than any human can aspire to.
When will Jesus come again?
We don’t know
Jesus cautions us to expect Him at any time. In order to do this He uses a parable - a story that comes alongside His point. With that point goes several facts:
You are in charge
Jesus has left His "house" in the care of His servants, that is, His disciples.
Let me acknowledge right away, that God is in control. Jesus works through His people and in that way as well as in ways we cannot explain, He leads the Church. However, in another way, one that is much more explainable, He has left His disciples with the responsibility of conducting His business on Earth.
Everyone has a personal task
When Jesus went away, He did not leave everyone in charge of everything. He had a logical division of labor. There are different kinds of jobs to be done and people of differing abilities to do them.
Paul tells us that this takes the shape of gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. This is the original idea of "giftedness." We say a person is "gifted" when they have a particular valuable ability in some specific area.
All believers are gifted. Jesus left everyone with an assigned task. The way we know what we have been assigned to do is to figure out what He has made us good at.
• Are you good at helping others in a practical and very physical way?
• Probably he has gifted you to serve.
• Are you good at providing funds to see His work move forward?
• Probably he has gifted you with giving.
• Are you good at teaching the Bible?
• Probably he has gifted you with teaching.
• Are you good at sharing your faith?
• Then you are a gifted evangelist.
There are about 25 or 30 categories of gifts that the Holy Spirit gives people. These are ways to help you understand where you fit into the Church, both in this specific Church and in the Body of Christ at large. Figure out what you are good at, and find a job that fits.
And stay alert
As always, repetition is a key to importance in the Bible. Look how many times Jesus cautions us to be alert:
• Be on guard!
• Be alert!
• keep watch