Always be ready – Matthew 24:36-44

In this passage, part of Christ’s Olivet Discourse, Jesus makes a vital point for us.  We must always be ready for his return.

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.  44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

I have personally and unscientifically observed two common and unfortunate responses to the thought that Jesus can come back at any moment. 

One is to go completely overboard in end times enthusiasm.  I remember years ago having to comfort a man whose wife had died.  Grief is hard.  His was made worse by the conviction that he and his wife, who were not young, were both going to live to see the rapture of the church.  He has since died as well.  No rapture.

The other unfortunate response, perhaps egged on by views like the one above, is to decide that Bible prophecy is so difficult, obscure or controversial that it’s not worth paying it any attention.  This seems to be more common at present, but it directly contradicts Jesus’ point.

Whether one believes this passage from Matthew is talking about the rapture or not (I personally think it is, which I know is a minority view), Christ wants us to be ready.  He wants us to stay awake (v.42), be ready (v.44) and to watch (Matt 25:13).

The fact that we cannot know when Jesus is coming is not a motivator to not care when he will return.  I believe this tension and lack of clarity regarding his return is designed to keep us always watchful.  Every generation of Christians has every reason to believe that Jesus can come during their lifetime, but we can never be sure that he will.  

Therefore we must always be ready.  Let’s repeat that.

44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

Devotional thought for Good Friday

In Romans 5:7-9 Paul reminds us,

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Today we remember the greatest example of love the world has ever known.  This is the day we remember that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.  True, Paul writes this at a time when many who would read it were alive at the time of Christ’s death.  He could say “while we were still sinners” and look back on the crucifixion and the space of time before he believed in its value.  We look at it somewhat differently.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/notre-dame-cathedral-on-fire-crucifix-altar-cross-paris/

Notre Dame altar cross, early Tuesday, April 16, 2019, by Philippe Wojazer, Reuters

From our standpoint Christ died before we were ever born.  He died before we ever sinned.  He also died long before we saw our need for a Savior.  How wonderful that by the time we saw our need, the Savior was risen.  The price for our sin had already been paid.  All that was lacking was our making use of Christ’s payment and asking it to be applied to us.

The love he shows to us is every bit as great as if we had known Christ personally while he walked the earth.  He was the lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world.  We are the sinners, who have corrupted the world by our sin.

As children of the very wealthy are in danger of not appreciating the true cost or worth of their riches, we run the risk of not appreciating the price that Christ paid.  We were born into a world whose sin was already dealt with at the cross.  We have been forgiven based on a work done long ago, a completed suffering.  We need to take some time to consider the cross.  Grace can be freely extended to us only because our Lord Jesus Christ humbled himself to a death that we deserved.

Thank you, thank you Jesus.

Amen.

Vicarious faith – Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26

Christ’s death for our sins is sometimes referred to as vicarious atonement.  He took responsibility for us when we were incapable of atoning for ourselves.  That is a wonderful fact and an essential concept that is basic to the Christian faith.  If you want, you can read more about it here.

Now we are going to talk about something else — vicarious faith — an idea central to the Christian life.  Needy people are not always in a position to believe.  They may need us to step in for them and take the responsibility upon ourselves to believe.  Our faith can stand in for their faith, our prayers for their prayers.  Matthew 9 shows us an extreme case.

18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. … 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.”And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district.

The ruler came to Jesus on behalf of his daughter.  She was dead.  In the house was a lifeless, breathless and certainly faithless corpse.  Her father reached out in faith when she was unable to believe for herself.  The mourners were no help.  Their expressions of grief were interrupted by their laughing at Jesus.  But Jesus did what Jesus does and the girl arose.  I want to exercise that kind of faith on behalf of others.

Saved by Grace – Ephesians 2:1-10

ephesus-grand-theatre - from Ephesus Breeze
Saved by Grace – Ephesians 2:1-10

After praying that our hearts would be opened, Paul now describes in greater detail what it means to be saved.

 

Ephesians 2.01-10.pdf        Ephesians 2.01-10.mp3

Central Streaming: Resurrection

The_Vision_of_The_Valley_of_The_Dry_Bones-810x557We serve a God who does not assure us that things will keep moving along nicely.  But he does give us hope that thing, ideas, dreams and people that die will rise again.

Ezekiel 36-37.pdf         Ezekiel 36-37.mp3