In our adult Sunday School class we’ve been studying eschatology, which is the doctrine of the last things. We’ve looked at what the Bible teaches concerning the return of Christ, considering the various signs that indicate his return and the events surrounding his Second Coming. It would be a vast understatement to say that Bible-believing Christians have differed on their understanding of these matters. Indeed, there is an almost dizzying array of viewpoints regarding the specifics of Christ’s return and the beginning of the eternal state.
But among all Christians who take the Scripture as the inspired Word of God, there is perfect unanimity on at least this one truth: the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again to earth to judge all mankind and inaugurate the new heavens and new earth. Because of the reality of Christ’s return, the most pressing question facing us is not, “Do you have a right understanding of eschatology?”, but rather, “Are you ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ?” In Luke 12:35-48, Jesus gives us two commands that we may be ready for that Day: stay awake, and stay faithful.
Comparing his return to that of a master coming home to his house and servants, Jesus says in v. 37: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” When I worked as a security guard during seminary and had to fill an overnight shift, my most basic responsibility was just to stay awake (thankfullly I had access to the office coffee maker!). Likewise, our most fundamental duty as Christians waiting for the return of Christ is simply to be spiritual awake. That is, our hope must be set upon Jesus. By faith we must look to him in whom our life is hidden, and look forward to that Day when we will enter into the fulllness of life and joy in Christ. “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also wil appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).
Lest we be lulled to sleep through unbelief and the pleasures and comforts of this world, Jesus gives us two reasons why we must stay awake. First, the day of his coming is certain. It’s not a matter of “if” he comes, but “when” he comes (v.37). Second, the day of his coming is unknown: “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (v.40). So far every prediction of the date of Jesus’ return has been proved wrong. But the certainty of his coming again is not thereby diminished. In fact, each day that passes means we are one day closer to Christ’s return. Are you ready? Is your hope set on Christ? Stay awake, that you may be blessed at his coming.
Also stay faithful. That is, by God’s grace devote yourself to serving Christ in whatever way he has called you serve, out of obedience to his will. Though Jesus was speaking specifically to leaders in the Church, his words apply to all believers: “Blessed is that servant whom the master will find so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:43). The Lord has entrusted to each of us a stewardship of gifts, time, and resources. Are you devoting yourself and what you have to serving Christ and serving others for the sake of Christ? When he returns (or when you go to him in death), may you hear these gracious words from the mouth of our Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).
Jesus’ teaching here reminds us that in one sense, eschatology is not a complicated matter. The heart issue is simply our readiness for his return. As someone put it, “Live as though Christ died yesterday, arose this morning, and is coming again tomorrow.”
Soli Deo Gloria!