In our Advent reflections, Matthew now weighs in on the return of Jesus. We’ve read through the accounts of Mark and Luke and noticed some overlap. Here again, there are similar themes. As a disciple, Matthew would have had a front row seat to Jesus’ foretelling.
The news Jesus shared about his return would have certainly been hard to believe. Not because Jesus himself is unbelievable, but because the people hearing would not be used to having people go to and from heaven. Death was usually a one-way street. But Jesus’ death was not final. He rose from the dead and then ascended into heaven. Jesus is alive!
Matthew’s account is a bit more up-beat. The others spoke of doom and gloom, yet Matthew speaks of parties and living life out loud. If you want to see more of Matthew’s account, it starts in verse 26. The fig tree even makes an appearance!
Matthew also describes more of what Jesus meant when he said the angels would come and gather the “elect” or God’s chosen ones. The words of Jesus Matthew use here seem to indicate that this gathering will involve some being left behind. I don’t want to be one of those people, do you?
Jesus’ return will be swift. There will be no time for last minute repentance! I know we all know people who have accepted Jesus on their death bed. Those stories are touching, to be sure, and how wonderful for all involved that they had that precious time, that the seeds had been sown leading up to that moment, and all of that.
The idea of being “left behind” may have been what triggered the naming of a whole book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. This “end times” book series has also spawned several movies. I’ll not get into the theology and correctness of any of this media here. What I’d like to note, however, is that people are fascinated with the end of the world as we know it.
Very interesting fiction novels to be sure. I can’t say that I have read much of this series. But I do appreciate that people are curious. If they aren’t already sure of their salvation, starting the conversation with a book or movie is a brilliant opportunity we should not discount or avoid.
The theme of Jesus coming when least expected is common, too. Some days I find myself thinking, “is this the day?” I often speak it out and say, “Jesus, it’s perfectly okay if you want to come back today. I’m ready!” Then there are those days when I’m a hot mess, stuck in my sin, and I just hope Jesus waits a day or two!
Being mindful about Jesus’ return on a regular basis is good for us. Like exercising our muscles, we are preparing our hearts and minds—getting them in shape! We can’t help but draw closer to Jesus when our focus is on being ready for his return. It convicts us. We can’t get lazy and stop paying attention.
In Noah’s day, people were living life out loud, partying and carrying on in ways that we not pleasing to God. I think it’s pretty obvious, if we look around, we’re stuck in the same pattern. People are merrily going about their business giving little or no thought to their Savior.
Some don’t know about Jesus. They don’t know that he is the Son of God, much less that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. They don’t know that Jesus loves them without measure and came to the world to show them that love in action. They don’t know that Jesus was a humble servant modeling exactly what he wanted for you and me.
Who do you know that needs a dose of Jesus this Advent season? Pray for them now as you are preparing your own heart and mind. How can you help welcome them into the family of God?
Let’s pray. Lord God, I thank you for this opportunity to reflect on your return this Advent. It is clear you want us to be ready and be watching. Cleanse my heart and open my eyes to see the ones around me who need to hear from you. Help them to find me like a ship finds a lighthouse. Bless all that I say and do this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.