Advent Devotional: Week Three - Friday

Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:36-44

“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son—except the Father only. As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

This passage belongs to a speech that Jesus gives to his disciples describing the troubles they will face in the future as they strive to remain faithful to him. Many Bible teachers have meticulously searched this speech for information about the future, hoping to decipher Jesus’ prophecies and predictions to find clues for when he might return. While there are various interpretations of this passage, two things are strikingly clear: the timing of Jesus’ return is a mystery, and, therefore, we must always be ready for it.

This begs the question—what does it mean to be “ready” for Jesus’ return? When we look at the state of our world, when we see poverty, injustice, suffering, and evil wreaking havoc in God’s creation, it’s easy to say, “Come quickly, Lord!” Maybe this is one reason why Jesus spends so much time describing the suffering and wickedness that believers will face—to keep our eyes looking upward.

At the same time, the Christian life is more than just sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back. We have a mission and a purpose in this life. As we wait for Jesus to return, we have work to be doing. In that sense, there’s more to being ready than just waiting.

In this passage, being ready means not being caught “off-guard.” It would mean that, when he returns, Jesus would find us faithfully working to fulfill the mission that we’ve been given. It means, first of all, habitually repenting of the sin that continues to trip us up as we seek to follow Jesus. It means continually trusting in what Jesus has done for us—that he himself has suffered the death required for our sins, that he has defeated the power of death by rising from the grave, and that he has reconciled us to our Heavenly Father. But it also means loving and serving our Christian brothers and sisters. And it means taking this message of reconciliation and redemption that we have in Jesus Christ to our family, our friends, our neighbors, and to the ends of the earth.

This passage exhorts us to “be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” The season of Advent offers us an opportunity to intentionally prepare ourselves for the arrival of our King.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, cultivate a spirit of readiness and anticipation among your people. Let us not be caught off-guard at your appearing. As the eyes of the magi were turned heavenward for your nativity, may not just our eyes but also our hearts, our minds, and our hands be ready and waiting for your return.

Advent Hymn: "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending"

Lo, he comes, with clouds descending, once for our salvation slain; thousand thousand saints attending swell the triumph of his train: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ the Lord returns to reign.

Now redemption, long expected, comes in solemn splendor near; all the saints this world rejected thrill the trumpet sound to hear: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! See the day of God appear!

Those dear tokens of his passion still his dazzling body bears, cause of endless exultation to his ransomed worshipers; with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee, high on thine eternal throne; Savior, take the power and glory, claim the kingdom as thine own: O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly! Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

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