Summary: Message explores the readiness for Christ's coming called for in the Olivet Discourse. Three parables give insight on specific aspects of being prepared. The Judgment of the Sheep and Goats is also examined closely.
Biblical Readiness for the Rapture:
In this message we continue to learn from the Olivet Discourse lesson about the coming of the Lord and how we are to respond to it. Last week we concluded with the point of Jesus’s message in Matthew 24: maintaining an ongoing readiness for his return. Matthew 24:42-44 says, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”i We can study biblical prophecy from the beginning of the Bible to the end. But if we fail to make the application that Jesus calls for in the remainder of this discourse, it is all in vain. Are you living in continued readiness for his coming? Would his return today catch you unprepared or would it be exactly what you’re living for?
The word “therefore” in verse 42 is a signal that this is Jesus’s application of the teaching. This is the response required: “Watch therefore.” The word translated “watch” is gregoreo. In the Greek it is placed at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis. If this is what we must do, it is important to understand what the word means. The fact that it is in the present imperative tense indicates “constant vigil.”ii We will see in the next few verses the importance of consistency—the importance of continuing in the faith. The fundamental meaning of the word is to stay awake.iii Paul’s use of the word in 1 Thessalonians 5:6 is enlightening:
“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch [gregoreo] and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:2-9).
The contrast Paul is making is between the godly and the ungodly. Wicked people live in a kind of stupor—unaware of the reality around them, like a person that’s asleep. The deceitfulness of sin is making them insensitive to the times and seasons. They are saying, “Peace and safety” when “sudden destruction” is right around the corner. In contrast God’s people are to know the times and seasons and live in a way that keeps them prepared for what’s ahead.iv The moral nature of this call to alertness is evident in the description Paul gives in verse 8: “putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” The exhortation in Revelation 16:15 reinforces this concept. “Behold, [Jesus says] I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches
[gregoreo], and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” It’s not sitting on a mountain looking at the sky. It’s being clothed in righteousness and living a life of purity.
This call to stay spiritually alert dominates the rest of this chapter and all of chapter 25. We will make a quick survey of those verses since they are a part of the Olivet Discourse. In the remainder of Matthew 24 Jesus give the Parable of the Unfaithful Servant warning us to stay faithful and prepared for his coming. Then in chapter 25 he gives two more parables and a description of the judgment that follows his second coming. All of this material revolves around the call to be ready for his return at all times. Each parable highlights a specific aspect of the way we are to watch for his coming.
I. PARABLE OF THE UNFAITHFUL SERVANT at the end of Matthew 24.
In Matthew 24:45-51 Jesus illustrates his exhortation to be vigilant and ready with this story about a servant who failed to do that. Here we get a clear picture of the danger of not continuing in well doing.v Jesus introduces the parable with a question.