By Arch Hoercher
Are you ready? If Jesus Christ would return tomorrow, would you be ready? The disciples were having a hard time with this. Jesus told them on several occasions that He was leaving. He was going back to the Father. They were under the impression that Jesus was going to establish His Kingdom on Earth as they had been taught since childhood. This was obviously not going to happen because Jesus was leaving them. He repeatedly instructed them that He would return. In John 14:1-3 (NIV) Jesus told His disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 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.” Jesus, on more than one occasion, promised that He would return as stated in Matthew Chapter 24.
Jesus wanted His believers to be ready for His return. He wanted His followers to understand a very serious and important point: “NO ONE KNOWS about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but ONLY the Father.” Jesus is going to return, but when that happens NO ONE KNOWS. He could return in the next 5 minutes or 5 hours or 5 days or 5 months or 5 years or 500 years or 5000 years. No one knows but the Father, but the truth is that He will be returning. Mark 13:32-37 (NIV) – “But as for that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on your guard and stay alert! For you do not when the appointed time will come. It is like a man going on a journey who left his house, put each servant in charge of his own task, and instructed the doorkeeper to keep watch. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know when the master of the house will return – whether in the evening, at midnight, when the rooster crows, or in the morning. Otherwise, he may arrive without notice and find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Keep watch!” Jesus wants all His followers to “Keep Watch”. Be prepared. Do not be found sleeping.
Jesus told the disciples several parables to illustrate this fact. We will be looking at three of these parables; the wise and foolish servants, the wise and foolish bridesmaids, and the talents. These can be found in Matthew Chapters 24 and 25. Please read these chapters so that you will have a more detailed understanding of what is told. For the sake of time and space, I will be paraphrasing or giving you the “Cambridge Notes” on these parables.
The first parable we will look at is about the wise and foolish servants. The master of the house (Jesus) departed on a trip (the location is unimportant). He leaves his servants in charge of the household and each servant had his assigned task. The wise and faithful servant goes about his tasks with the knowledge that the master might return at any time. The foolish or evil servant “says in his heart, ‘My master will be away a long time’. And he begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.” The Master will return on a day when the foolish servant is least aware. When the Master returns he will find the foolish servant unaware and doing wicked deeds – not performing his assigned duties. This is someone who identifies with the church and pretends to be serving the Master, but has no love for the Master and does not even look forward to His return. The punishment for this servant (who represents the non-believers) will be severe. Titus 2:12-13 (NIV) instructs us – “It (grace) instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The next text we will look at is The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. The parable of the wise and foolish servants tells us that we should be ready for Christ’s return at any moment and cannot believe that He will delay His return. The parable of the Bridesmaids teaches just the opposite. We should still be ready for His return even if He delays His return. During this time in history the bridesmaid has only one task, to escort the groom to the wedding feast with a lighted lamp. All ten bridesmaids went out to escort the groom to the feast. For whatever reason, the groom was delayed (a much longer time than was expected). The wise bridesmaids were prepared for the groom’s delayed return by bringing additional oil in a container for their lamps. The foolish bridesmaids did not bring any extra oil and only had the oil that was in their lamps. The announcement came that the groom was coming. The foolish bridesmaids’ lamps had gone out because they did not have enough oil and they went away to buy more. The wise bridesmaids’ lamps had plenty of oil because they had brought extra. The groom came and only the wise bridesmaids were there to escort the groom to the wedding feast. The wise bridesmaids were prepared to do their job no matter how long the groom was delayed. When the foolish bridesmaids finally showed up to the wedding feast, they were not let in. Jesus was teaching His disciples and us that we must always be ready and prepared for His return. We should live our lives in a way that shows that Jesus could return in the next 5 seconds, even though it could be another 1000 years. Nothing stands in the way of our Lord’s return. We should be ready and prepared for His inevitable return. Romans 13:11 (NIV) – “And do this, understanding the occasion. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed….let us put on the armor of light.”
The last parable of this study is about The Talents. The parable of the wise and foolish servants teaches that we should be ready for Christ’s return at any moment. The parable of the bridesmaids teaches us that we should be prepared for His return even if there is a delay. The parable of the talents teaches us that we should be performing our assigned tasks while waiting for His return. The parable of the talents goes something like this. The Master was going away on a trip. He had no idea when He might return. But during His absence he assigned his servants a portion of his wealth according to each’s ability. Two of the servants worked and doubled the talents they were entrusted with. The third servant was not interested in working and buried his and went out and did as he wished. When the master returned He was pleased with the work of the two faithful servants and they were rewarded. The third servant was punished because of His laziness and wickedness. The third servant again represents an unfaithful non-believer. While the master was away the mouse played.
The point of these three parables is pretty easy to see. They each instruct us that we should be ready and prepared for Christ’s return. We should not be selling all we have and go sit on a mountain top. We should not be living as we wish because we do not believe that Christ will come anytime soon. We should not be shirking and ignoring our duties. We should be working to expand Christ’s kingdom as best we can with the tools that we have been given. We should be prepared and expect Christ’s return at any moment.
Jesus Christ will return. Are you ready?