Text: Luke 12:35-44; 17:22-32
1) These were what pretenders said: Through the years, quite a few people have predicted the return of Jesus or the end of the world at a specific time. In 2011, an American radio preacher stirred up the interest of the mainstream media with his prediction that Jesus would return on May 21. Earlier this year, some people predicted that the world would come to an end on December 21, 2012 because of the Mayan apocalypse.
2) This was what Jesus had said: Anyone who knows the Bible well knew that those advance warning or prediction weren¡¯t accurate because Jesus himself said His return would be ¡°at an hour you do not expect.¡± (Luke 12:40) He also said, ¡°No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father.¡± (Matt 24:36) Historically, people tried to tie catastrophic disasters such as the super storms in the past or huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan 2 years ago to the end-day of the world and the return of Jesus Christ. Again and again, all had been proven as fake and joking. Yet people will continue to predict and some will continue to believe.
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE RETURN OF JESUS:
1) Because this world is not forever: ¡°Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.¡± (Matt 24:35) These are words from the mouth of Jesus. In comparing the everlasting nature of his words, he used something everyone believes to be everlasting, the heaven and the earth, but they are no match with the words of our Lord. When Jesus included both heaven and earth in this sentence, it leaves no guessing if it is only the earth will not last, but neither will the heaven. Nothing will last.
2) Jesus promised he would return: ¡°And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me.¡± (John 14:3)Again, these are words of Jesus¡¯ mouth, his own words and promise to his disciples 2,000 years ago and to us today. If you can¡¯t believe promises of others because of their failure in the past, you can put your faith in Jesus and his promise because he has never failed anyone anything. When he said he would return, he will return. You can trust his promise.
3) Because there is a judgment day: ¡°All the nation (people) will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right: Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. Then he will say to those on his left: Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his messengers.¡± (Matt 25:32-34, 41) No one likes to see a judgment day, particularly the evil and the wicked. But there will be one at the end time when Jesus will return to judge the world.
4) Because of a New World order: ¡°Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.¡± (Rev. 21:1-2) We have heard for many years some people are looking for a New World order in earth through some political organization like the United Nations. They hope that this New World order will bring peace and prosperity for all people. Some tried to create this by promoting education; others by technology or military. But all have brought the world into more chaos. God has prepared a New World order when Jesus comes back at the end time to replace the Old World and all the defects with it. By then, the Lamb of God, the Christ, will be the King of all kings and Lord of all lords forever. When the new comes, the old much go.
WHAT MOST PEOPLE DO ON THIS? (Luke 17:22-32)
1) There will be lots of speculations: ¡°Men will tell you: ¡°There He is!¡± or ¡°Here He is!¡± Do not go running after them.¡± (17:23) This is exactly what we have seen and heard throughout history: Many false prophets, preachers or pretenders will tell the world when the Lord will come and where. Many people, including some truly dedicated but ignorant Christians will be lured into doing some ridiculous things. Some of these false preachers did this because they were fear mongers, for the sake of scaring people. Others did this to promote themselves as cult leaders for unseemly purposes. Still others who speculated because they did not truly believe the words of Christ. All of them are leading people away from God.
2) Some don¡¯t care about the end-time: ¡°Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark, then the flood came and destroyed them all.¡± (17:26-27) Most people, including some Christians, do not care or take the end-time seriously. All they care is enjoy life to the best of their ability. Jesus used ¡°eating, drinking and marrying¡± to describe ¡°the joy of life¡± in this world. These people don¡¯t care if there is an end-time. If it comes then it comes. I enjoy life while I can before that day.
3) Others believe this world is forever: ¡°It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating, drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.¡± (17:28) On top of eating and drinking, these people had more plans: make more money by doing business: building, buying and selling properties, house or business to make more money. To these people, life is more than to enjoy, but also to plan, to accumulate, to store up for the years to come. To them: This is the place they will stay forever. But Jesus continued to say: ¡°But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.¡± (29) No. This world isn¡¯t going to last forever no matter where you live or how much you planned. To us Christians, there is an eternal home with Jesus in heaven. That home is forever.
4) They will lose everything they have: ¡°On that day, no one who is on his roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember lot¡¯s wife?¡± (17:30-32) Have you seen the pictures of those who lost everything they have in the flood of Super-storm Sandy and the huge fire that destroyed over 100 homes in hours during the storm in October this year? Or the earthquake in Szichuan, China or Japan a few years back. Many lost everything they worked all life; some even lost their very life. When lot¡¯s wife left her home in Sodom she left everything there. Jesus wants us to remember all these as warning signs.
WHAT THE LORD WANTS US TO DO? (Luke 12:35-44)
1) Always be ready for his coming: ¡°Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.¡± (12:35-36) Jesus used a familiar phenomenon to illustrate the importance of being ready for the Lord¡¯s return. Get dressed and have the lamps burning are steps all servants suppose to do to meet the master when he comes home. In this parable, Jesus asks that we as his servants are to prepare for his return just as servants at his time ready for their masters. Being ready is the key to face that big day. No one may face his master unprepared when he comes home. Do we have that sense of duty to Jesus?
2) This is good for the servants: ¡°Blessed are those servants whom the Lord comes shall find watching.¡± (12:37KJV) Some people feel that being ready to welcome the Lord is too much for them. They feel it is bothersome, inconvenient or even sacrificial to do so. Most of these people would rather care their business in life instead of focusing on waiting for the Lord to come back. But Jesus promised the faithful who are waiting and watching blessing in his house. He further illustrated the reward of being faithful in the parable of the talents in Matt 25:21, ¡°Well done, good and faithful servant! I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master¡¯s happiness.¡± Being ready to welcome the Lord is never a losing business. Instead it is a much rewarding business than unprepared and get punished.
3) Time is not a problem to the faithful: ¡±And if he shall come in the second watch or come in the third watch and find them so (faithful), blessed are those servants.¡± (12:38 KJV) Time is not a problem to the faithful: It doesn¡¯t matter when the Lord may come if you are ever ready for him. When I was a seminary student in Hong Kong, living in campus dorms. The dean of students will do unexpected inspection in our dorm rooms. This is part of the training of self-discipline all seminary students need to learn. Some students felt very scared because they don¡¯t have the discipline to keep things in places. Those who always kept their room tidy and clean never have to worry or be stressful.
4) A command all need to obey: ¡°You also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect him.¡± (12:40) When Jesus used ¡°must be¡± to start his sentence, he didn¡¯t leave us any choice or options but to obey without any question or negotiation. If we are not taking steps to get ready, we are in direct collision with the order of the Lord. If you are aiming to be in heaven with the Lord, you don¡¯t want to disobey his order. Do you? So follow his order and be ready to see him.
1) Don¡¯t get misled by lies: Trust what the Lord said than what false prophet say about the end-days or his return. No one would know except God himself. All we need to do is getting ready, be watchful and prepared to meet him when he comes or we go to see him. No one may guarantee our life in this temporary dwelling. Do not focus all your life about things in this world. Soon we will move over to be with the Lord. No need to build any sandcastle.
2) We all have to meet him: All people in this world, believers or not, will have to meet the Lord when he comes back or if you go first. So, why not get ready before that day? Jesus has prepared a place for all of us in heaven, just waiting for you to accept him as your Lord and Savior by faith. Confess your sins to him and ask for his forgiveness. Then invite him into your hearts and be Lord of your life. Someday when you need to see him, you won¡¯t be rejected or left in the darkness.