The Readiness is All

Matthew 24:42-51

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. “Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.

Jesus is continuing to explain to his disciples the following: “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Now, as for what takes place in the end-times, the pre-tribulational premise is that “this degeneration will not pass away until all these things take place.” But what if the opposite were true? What if “this regeneration will not pass away until all these things take place?” I am playing loose with the words of Jesus nevertheless, if you would bear with me, I would like to explore what one or two of the disciples present at this discourse, as it pertains to this discourse, wrote​ about it before we consider the context.

The end of 2 Peter:

“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen”

As an aside and a stupid remark from me, it’s only been 1 and 7/8ths of a day since the Lord made this promise. But the converse is also true, it’s been 725,255,162 years since Jesus made this promise, if 1000 years is like a day and a day like a thousand years. Now, I know what you are thinking, this text is proof that Jesus has not yet returned. True, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t come and removed lampstands or judged those who have failed to follow the Law. Nevertheless, this passage is not about lampstands and certainly not about a rapture, but it is about the “why” of waiting. I love the way in which Peter writes, “regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation.” Notice also, Peter charges his audience to, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” One very good way to do that is by thoroughly reading his eternal words, mining for gold, you can do it, the CAGED method can help. We also notice the following: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” I hope by a brief consideration of the context, while we see destruction, that we will also notice that “regeneration” surpasses “degeneration.” God is patient in his promise, he always has been. There remains a day in which Jesus will physically return to fulfill the final prophecy but until then, his patience means salvation, not degradation.

I heard a joke concerning this from a mega-church pastor. A little boy was talking to God once and God encouraged him to ask questions. The little boy thought for a minute and asked God how much a million dollars was to him. God responded, “a million dollars is like a penny to me.” The boy then asked, “how long is a million years to you?” God answered, “a million years is like one second to me.” Then God encouraged the boy to ask him something else, anything​ he wanted. The boy got up his courage and asked God for a penny. God responded, “sure, just a second.” Problem; we take the thousand years is like a day literally, but not the converse of one day being like a thousand years. Time means very little to the Lord. Nevertheless, we are looking at readiness.

John wrote, “And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

“Therefore, be on alert,” Jesus said to his disciples and we see that theme from two of the disciples who were there. We also see that theme from the Apostle Paul. “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.”

Paul, Peter and John all write in the first person, plural, they use the word “we.” I believe this to be more than comforting. I absolutely love how the apostles, who had much authority, place themselves on the same level and in the same boat with the followers. In Revelation we read; “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and aperseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” That is an incredibly personal proclamation. Another theme, or sublime string if you will, that is woven into the fabric of Matthew, is the transition from a come and see, stand in the back religion to a go and tell, personal relationship, Spiritual lifestyle.

In this New Way, everyone is equal with different roles and gifts, but still equal. We have read that if one wants to be great, he will be the servant. We cannot miss that Jesus is turning everything on its head, great is small and small is great. God is not dwelling in a room in some man-made temple but walking and talking among men. And in today’s text, he is on the Mount of Olives, speaking to his disciples, alone.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.”

Judas is with them at this point. Could it be that the good slave represents the 11 who will go out and “tend his sheep and feed his lamb?.” Could it be that the impatient Judas is representetive of the wicked slave who is not alert? Could it be that Judas represents those who are worried about the things of this world but not those in heaven?

Luke writes; “Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Regardless of times or epochs, a pre or post-millennial return ​of Jesus, whether or not there is a pre, mid or post-tribulation rapture, whether or not Israel as a nation will offer sacrifices during a future tribulation, we should be ready because they were ready.

Being ready is one of the largest themes in the New Testament, especially by Peter. Lord willing, we are about to see how unready Peter was. Peter’s denial of Jesus was recorded in all four gospel accounts, as was his earthly act of cutting off the high priest’s slave’s ear. Being recorded in all four books of Gospel is no small feat, it’s quite rare. On the one hand, Peter claimed to be willing to die or go to prison with Jesus but on the other hand, he wasn’t. Yet he was ready to fight.

We too, always want to fight… sin–someone else’s sin. But are we ready? Righteousness is being ready. We choose our battles poorly and await a saving from our present state, like Peter. To save our skin we deny the Master, yet are all too willing to fight the battle of which Jesus has already won. Like Judas we settle for silver, rather than mining for gold. We think earthly, like the Pharisees and attempt to be righteous apart from what Christ did. We still live under the Law and not in the newness of the Spirit. And these are the things of which Jesus came to fulfill. We are to be ready through that which has been accomplished. We live in the best of times because the Scriptures have been fulfilled by Jesus. We have no need to worry about times or epochs because Jesus completed them. The only thing that remains is how we will be found by Jesus, whether in our natural death, or in his final coming. Jesus, Paul, Peter and John have the final word, “be ready.”

 

 

 

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