Jason Free

Hope for a Time You Won’t Expect

by Jason Free on November 27th, 2016
Matthew 24:36-44

They say a watched pot never boils. Well I stand before you today to tell you that is just not true. Several days ago I watched a pot of water and it boiled. I timed it too. It took That three minutes and seventeen seconds for that pot to boil. But you know what? That three minutes and seventeen seconds felt like an eternity. The entire time I was thinking to myself: Why am I wasting my time doing this? I’m pretty sure I could be watching TV or be doing something, I don’t know, productive. I also started to doubt the water would ever boil and thought maybe I should just accept the fact that it’ll never happen. But then there was a part of me that was worried “What if it’s just about to boil and, if I leave, I’ll miss it?” There is a lot to think about when you are watching a pot of water on a stove.

Likewise, there is a lot to think about as we, God’s people, watch and wait for our Savior’s second coming. There are numerous distractions, countless doubts, and unending fears that make our watch difficult and at times unpleasant. Yet, we keep watch for his coming, and are, in fact, encouraged by Jesus to keep watch. For, as we see in our lesson for today, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Think about that. Jesus told his disciples this some 2000 years ago. One day there will be a final judgment when he would return, but when that would happen nobody knew except God. So, all the disciples could do is watch. They were to watch for his coming and while doing that, watch against three things: Watch against indifference. Watch against unbelief. Watch against carelessness. And Jesus illustrates these three things to watch against using three different illustrations. The first involves Noah and the flood.

We might be familiar with the story of Noah, but if not what happened? God was sick and tired of the sinful people of this world so he resolved to bring judgment upon them in the form of a worldwide flood. Who did he choose to spare, however? Righteous Noah and his family. So here you have God fearing Noah building this massive wooden boat, this ark, and what were the people of the world doing? Jesus tells us, “They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark”

Now, you might ask “What is wrong with that?” Well, nothing. Except that here these people were facing extinction for their sins, and they didn’t care! They were indifferent! Whatever! They were so wrapped up in themselves and in the secular things of this world that they completely disregarded the spiritual, “and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

What does this mean for us today? When we go about our daily lives. When we go to school, work, vacation, or enjoy retirement – whatever it might be – these things are not bad. But, as Christians, we understand that we cannot put our trust and our hope in or day to day affairs. Money, a good paying job, a nice house, athletics, friends, family, and popularity, these things will not save you. When Jesus returns on judgment day, and he will, he won’t have a checklist that you must fulfill to enter heaven. “Let’s see, Jason Free, popular? Nope. Good looking? Eh. Lots of money. Ha! Loving wife? Check! Hard working? Sometimes.” No, if there is a checklist, for believers all it will have is this, “The blood of Jesus Christ paid for this child’s sins. Let my child in.”

Keeping watch for the return of the Son of Man, then, isn’t like me staring at that boiling water wondering if it will boil and wondering if this isn’t just a big waste of my time. It’s something we as believers do in faith. We watch with faith. It’s like when you order food at a restaurant. You know it’s coming. You know what you are going to be receiving and you are eager for it to come. You’re watching too. Every time you see a server bring out food, you’re thinking, there it is! Is that ours! And when the server does bring that food to your table, isn’t it the greatest thing?

That is how we as God’s children watch for his coming. Not with indifference. We are excited. We are looking forward to it; we eagerly anticipate it. While we wait, we thank God for the many blessings he has given us on this earth, but we don’t look to those gifts as evidence of our salvation nor do we take them up as a replacement for our salvation. We recognize that everything we see will one day disappear, washed away by a flood, not of water, but of fire. So, unlike the people during Noah’s time, unlike unbelievers, our indifference is toward the things of this world not towards God.

By that I mean, when we lose a loved one, we rejoice, because that person is in heaven. When things don’t go our way or we don’t get what we want, we acknowledge that God gives and God takes away. When things do go well for us we praise God for every blessing and we watch and look forward to that eternal blessing of heaven that will outshine and outdo all the physical blessings we enjoy now. We watch for Christ’s return while watching against indifference and at the same time we watch against unbelief, which is the next illustration Jesus brings to light in our lesson

Jesus says, “Two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” Put yourself in the disciple’s shoes. What was Jesus getting at here? Who are the people being taken? Where are they taken to? What about those left behind? Will they just go on living while wondering where millions of people disappeared to? The next verse likely helped the disciples understand what Jesus meant. “Therefore, keep watch!” Jesus says, “Because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”  Jesus is still speaking about the final Day of Judgment. Those being taken are believers and those left behind are unbelievers.

At God’s Judgment, there will only be these two classes of people: believers and unbelievers. Saved and Damned. There is no middle ground. It doesn’t matter if you work together, are friends with someone, or are even family. Your Lord, your God will be coming back. Believers as we see here will be taken into heaven, whereas unbelievers will be left behind to suffer in hell for all eternity.

If you were to decide in your mind that a watched pot will never boil, I’ll tell you now, you are wrong. A watched pot will and does boil. Just like Jesus will come back. He said he would, and “It is impossible for God to lie.” Unbelievers will try and convince themselves and others otherwise. They willingly stake their eternal afterlife on their claim that God will never come back and they will never face his wrath. Or they argue that if he does come back that they’ll be able to convince him by their good lives that they deserve heaven. How wrong they are and how wary we should be lest we fall into a similar mindset.

You and I, as believers, keep watch knowing it is through God’s grace and by faith alone that we are the ones who will be taken. Our Lord is coming back to take us with him. To take us out of this sinful-sick world, to a place that is perfect and holy. We are like those Cubs fans who jumped for joy and rejoiced when the Cubs won the World Series and then watched and waited those electric few hours before pouring into Grand Park for the start of the festivities back in Chicago. In the same way, we jump for joy that our Savior has already won the victory over sin for us and now we watch and wait with bated breath for his return. We don’t know when, but it doesn’t matter; we watch. We watch for him while watching against assaults that the devil and the world might use to try and lead us into unwatchful unbelief. We watch knowing that, if we are caught off guard, our loss will be eternal.

As Jesus ends our lesson, then, he reminds his disciples that there is no reason for them to be unprepared; there is no reason to not be ready for his return. “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” Brothers and sisters, in faith you know your Savior and you know he will one day return to judge the living and the dead. Be prepared for that time. Keep Watch! Don’t be like the owner of the home who lost everything because he wasn’t ready. We may not know the day or the hour, but we do know the Son of Man, our Savior, will come.

So how, how can you be ready? How can you keep watch? If you’re preparing for a world-wide flood you’d build a boat. If you think your house will be robbed, you’ll have your house booby trapped like Kevin in the classic Home Alone Movies. If you are preparing for a Zombie apocalypse you might have a bunker built with a crazy armored truck. To be prepared for Judgment Day, you don’t need any of those things. All you need is this book, the bible; God’s Holy Word.

With a heart of faith and out of love for your God, take that book off the shelf. Crack it open. Open it when you are eating at breakfast. Open it before bed. Read it to see the history of this world, the history of God’s people, your brothers and sisters. See their failures, see their weaknesses and how they suffered and were tempted in many of the same ways you and I are. See their successes, how God used every situation to fulfill his will and in-turn bless his people. Above all read it to see God’s unending grace and his love for a fallen world that includes you and me. Read it to see, by the Holy Spirit, your Savior. His death and resurrection won salvation for you and assures you of a future deliverance and resurrection on Judgment day.

It is for this we watch. Not alone. But with our family, with each other. The person sitting behind you, to the left of you, and to the right are all watching and waiting for the same thing; The coming of the Son of Man. It is this for which we hope, a time we won’t expect, but a second coming for which we will be watching and waiting for. Come soon, Lord Jesus! Amen.

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