Matthew 24:36-51 Only God Knows When

I wish we'd all been ready

I wish we’d all been ready

We are continuing with Jesus and His disciples on the Mount of Olives. Jesus is answering the disciples’ questions about the signs of His returning and the end of the age. Today Jesus addresses the exact hour of His return.

Jesus message today is very clear. I don’t need an advanced degree in religious studies or deep understanding to know what He is telling His disciples in this passage. Jesus plainly says that no one but the Father knows when the Son is coming back. Period.

Jesus has given us signs to look for concerning His return. Jesus compares our advanced warning to the warnings given to the people in the days of Noah. I’m certain Noah was out there every minute he was not engaged in boat building, telling the people what was coming. They all laughed at Him. I’m also certain that as he was building the boat, people came from far and near to see this ridiculous spectacle. Being a man of God, he shared God’s warning with those who came to gawk at him. And again, no one believed him. Everything he did he did in the public eye. Everyone had a chance to be saved, but none took it.

The same is true of every warning and chance God has given mankind regarding the approaching final day of judgement. Everything Jesus did He did in the public eye. Everyone from miles around had a chance to see and hear God’s message. Jesus said that He wouldn’t return until the gospel had been preached to the WHOLE WORLD. No one will be able to use the excuse of “I didn’t know” or “no one told me.”

But just like in the days of Noah, right up until the moment of no return, people will continue to go about their business. Business for some will be the spreading of the gospel. Activities included in this category would be doing anything that shares God’s love with others. Simply giving a drink of water to a thirsty person, visiting someone in prison, feeding someone who is hungry, doing anything for the sake of showing love to another without concern for repayment but strictly as an act of love. While business for others will be just the opposite. This includes acts of hate in any form, slandering Jesus name, or turning anyone away from finding the love that Jesus offers to us all. What business will you be engaged in?

Yesterday’s passage talks about how people will be saying “Jesus is here” or “Jesus is there.” Jesus clearly shows how much of a surprise His coming will really be to many, when He talks about two being working at some task and one being taken while the other is left. Even His own (the ones taken) are going about their daily tasks, instead of gathering on a hillside waiting for some manmade specified time or event.

Jesus next likens us to servants of the master of a home, who are left to conduct the master’s household business while the master is away. The servant is given his instructions and given provisions for his fellow servants, to be distributed “at the proper time.” This servant is in charge of his fellow servants. He is to care for them, including feeding them, as prescribed by the master. This is us sharing Jesus’ words and His love with others; our fellow servants. Even though the servant in charge had all the provisions, he was still a servant. These were people just like him. He had been given a duty to care for them and see to it that they were fed and cared for. The servant who does this faithfully for the master is handsomely rewarded. But the servant who takes advantage of his position of authority is severely repaid for his treachery and treatment of his fellow servant. Jesus says the master will “cut him in pieces” and then place him in eternal damnation. Even being cut in pieces does not end his suffering. He will suffer for eternity too.

The second servant didn’t expect to be caught behaving badly. The master was delayed, in his opinion, and he thought he had plenty of time to clean up his act before the master got back. His “extracurricular activities” took his eyes off the signs of the master’s return. I have a feeling he stopped caring about the master’s return too. He had everything he wanted with the master gone. He had power, provisions, and plenty of “friends” to pass the time with. He used all that the master provided for his own enjoyment. Even his fellow servants’ state of health didn’t cause him concern. He beat his fellow servants and probably withheld their source of food.

I am curious about the second servant. It appears that this servant is one of God’s children. In Jesus’ example, he was clearly chosen by the master of the house to care for his other servants. Did the chosen servant “fool” the master into believing him trustworthy by his behavior in the master’s presence? Was the servant part of the master’s household? In our terms, was the man a “Christian?” Did he truly have a relationship with God in the first place? Or was the servant like Judas Iscariot, who wore the attitude and behavior of a follower of Jesus, but underneath never truly gave his heart to Jesus. If this servant was a “Christian”, what does that mean about the future of a fellow believer who behaves in this way? Is it possible to lose your place with Jesus based on your treatment of your fellow “servants?”

This is a scary thought to me. One that should make us all want to be the first and not the second servant. The servant who was treating his fellow servants as the master commanded. The one who, by his behavior, was always ready for the master’s return. The one that, regardless of the day the master returned, would be found going about the master’s business. The one filled with compassion for his fellow servants.

One closing thought I want to add. I have heard comments from different people about, when the rapture happens, will I be left behind? I believe the answer to that is, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will be engaged in doing the things that are pleasing to Him. This does not mean that you are not going to have times where you blow it and commit some kind of sin. But that you will be living a life where He is dealing with you on your issues and you are responding to His leading. He may be working with you on a deep rooted issue, but you are still open to His work. If you are living in that kind of relationship with Him, you are TRULY His and He will not leave you behind. So, continue about your business, especially when it is the business of loving others, which He has clearly called us all to do. He won’t miss you when He comes. He knows right where you are if you are His. He will gather ALL of His people home. Be alert to the times, because He promises warning signs, but don’t be afraid to carry on with life as usual. Walk in His ways, to the best of your ability through Him, and there is nothing to fear.

Father God, thank You for the warning signs. Thank You also that You made them general enough that everyone, from Jesus’ original disciples to today’s believers, is left with the expectation of Your eminent and immediate return. If You had set a concrete date no one before that date would have had any reason to live continually in Your will. They, and probably me too, would have waited until the last minute to get our act together. Thank You too that You know our hearts and won’t leave any of Your children behind.

Please remind me every day what it is that You would have me do. I don’t ever want to be like the second servant. I want to be loving my brothers and sisters. Caring for them just like You commanded. Ready, by my behavior, for any time You choose to return. Thank You for trusting me with the little things You have. I pray You find me faithful when You get here.

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One Response to “Matthew 24:36-51 Only God Knows When”

  1. Victoria Walters says:

    Amen. May we ever be found being ‘about Our Father’s business.’

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