Preparing For Jesus’ Return
Jesus is surrounded by a large crowd, and He takes that opportunity to tell them a parable that alludes to His ‘second coming.’
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!
But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Lk. 12:35 – 40. ESV
Christ is saying that it is vital we get our spiritual house in order, to the best of our ability (in right-standing with God) before He returns (or before our earth suit wears out – whichever comes first), or it will be too late! Salvation will no longer be available. Jesus speaks again to this urgency:
“And why do you judge even on your own initiative what is right? For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there, make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent!” Lk. 12:57 – 59. NASB
Jesus is trying to get the people to see that their salvation is standing right there in front of them (He being their spiritual ‘opponent’ at that point – due to their heretofore rejection of Him). He’s also letting them know that they must grab hold of that salvation before they have to stand in front of the judgment seat. Jesus sums it all up with a call to action:
“…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Lk. 13:5 NKJV
Christ travels to the region of Perea, where He expounds upon the same critical lesson to another crowd:
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. when once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you where you are from. Depart form Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.” Lk. 13:24 – 28. NKJV
You can say you are a follower of Jesus, but you have to do the following…
Addressing yet another crowd, Jesus speaks to some raucous Pharisees within – teaching everyone that salvation was His way or no way:
Until John came, (John the Baptist) there was the Law and the Prophets; since then the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom is being preached, and everyone strives violently to go in [would force his own way rather than God’s way into it.] Yet it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away that for one dot of the Law to fail and become void. Lk. 16:16, 17. AMP
And just in case anyone is thinking that they can be elevated from hell to heaven, Jesus tell the crowd (to point to the Pharisee’s love of money) a parable about a rich man who ignores a beggar who lived outside of his gate. Upon both of their deaths, the rich man finds himself in hell, but he sees the beggar with Abraham in heaven. The rich man pleads to Abraham to send him water. Abraham replies:
‘…between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Lk. 16:26 NKJV
Jesus is letting us know that when our time has expired, our thoughts and actions will have determined out final destination – one which is written in stone for eternity…
In the beginning of 30 A.D., Jesus and the apostles are beginning their final journey to Jerusalem. Passing through Samaria and Galilee, He encounters (you guessed it) a group of Pharisees, who ask Him to tell them exactly when the kingdom of God will come. He responds by telling them that they are looking at the kingdom right now – in the person of Himself and in the hearts of all those who follow Him.
Then Jesus turns to His apostles and says:
“The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them! For as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day.” Lk. 17:22 -24. ESV
Jesus is preparing His disciples for the times when they will long for their Savior’s return, warning them that they will be vulnerable to the false claims of others who profess to be the Messiah, or, contend to know HIs whereabouts.
He is urging them to ignore those events because His return will be global in its impact. Jesus continues painting the picture of His second coming:
“But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will also be in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drink, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the Ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all…Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Lk. 17:25 – 27 & 30. NKJV
Jesus is inferring that His disciples need to continually warn non-believers about the compelling urgency of accepting Him as their Savior and getting their life right with God, because the devastation that follows His return for those who don’t, will be as severe and final as the flood of Noah’s time. He is telling them that just like then, many people will stay mired in the affairs of this world until it’s too late. A great separation is coming:
“On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife.” Lk. 17:31, 32. ESV
“I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.” Lk. 17:34 NASB
You have to be ready when Christ returns, by having both feet firmly planted in the kingdom of God. Jesus will accept no ‘fence sitters’ (e.g. Lot’s wife). You are either with Christ or you become one of those who are ‘left behind.’ And being left behind, does not look like a good place to be:
“Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” Lk. 17:37 NASB
Yet Jesus is so full of compassion. He leaves His followers with hope by relating a parable (Lk. 18:1 – 7.) to illustrate the importance of faithful persistent prayer for one’s heavenly outcome. The parable tells of a widow who had suffered an injustice at the hands of an adversary. Distraught, she took her plight to an unbelieving and unjust judge, who initially ignores her pleas until her persistent reappearances in his court changes his mind; and then justice is meted out.
God, being the ultimate ‘just’ judge, will not let the persistent prayers of His children go unanswered.
Jesus immediately recounts an additional parable to the apostles (Lk. 18:9 – 13), where there was a Pharisee and a ‘tax collector’ (the lowest occupation in the social strata at that time) who went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee boasted about his self-righteousness, claiming that he was so much better than the sinners around him. The tax collector on the other hand, would not even raise his eyes towards heaven. Instead, he beat his chest and cried out to God – begging Him to have mercy because of his sins. Jesus finishes:
“I tell you that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself while be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk. 18:14 NKJV
It’s a warning about the danger of arrogantly believing that one’s own righteousness will usher them into the kingdom of God. Only the righteousness conferred upon you by Christ when you accept His salvation, will make that connection for you.
Arrogance is not accepted in those who would try to enter. Jesus drives that point home soon thereafter, when, while He was teaching another crowd, they brought their children to Him so that He might lay His hands upon them. The apostles tried to shoo them away, but Jesus delivers a rebuke:
“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, will by no means enter it.” Mk. 10:13 – 15. NKJV
Simple faith and humility are the keys to entering heaven.
To be continued…
Good night and God bless.