Living in expectation of the coming of the King
Read Matthew 25:1-13
“Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day affairs of life and forget that time marches relentlessly on. It is only when we stop for a moment and look back over life that we realize how quickly time passes. But when we reflect back 2000 years, time seems to march continuously onward. We live with the assumption that there will always be a tomorrow, always be another generation, always be another century. No matter how much we see the brevity of life in others, we never see it in our own life. While the past seems to be a moment, the future always seems forever. We always have tomorrow to do what we could not get done today.
In Matthew 25, Christ is approaching the end of his time on earth. While he has continually warned the disciples that there was a day coming when he was going to leave them and return to his father, they saw it in the distant future. But even as he foretold his death and resurrection, he also foretold of his return when he would establish his kingdom on earth. Anticipating that Christ would return in their own lifespan, in Matthew 24, the disciples asked him what will be the sign of his coming. In response, Christ foretells of coming trials of wars, tribulation, and false teaching (24:1-31). Be he also warns them against setting the date of his return, for “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (24:36). However, he does give a warning that we should not become complacent about looking for his return. The delay in his return can cause us to stop anticipating his return (24:38-39). Peter thus warns us of the dangers of false teachers who arise and promote sexual freedom and the pursuit of wealth (2 Peter 2:2-3). They will mock the day of Christ’s return and the judgment he brings. Instead, they will point to the relentless march of time as proof that things will just continue as they have been for the past generations (2 Peter 3:3-7). Just as they reject that God created all things and reject that God brought a universal flood in judgment upon humanity, so also, they will reject his return.
To prepare the disciples for his return, Christ, therefore, urges them to always be ready, anticipating that his return will come when least expected. He compares his return to the coming of the bridegroom, who would come unannounced to bring his bride back to his home. Of those who were waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom, five foolishly ignore that his return would be immediate, so they took no preparations. The other five, anticipating that his coming may be unexpected and so they were ready.
The point of the parable is that we are to anticipate and be ready for his return at any moment. We are to live in the present recognizing that Christ may come and so we live in a way that anticipates his return. This gives both a sense of urgency to our purpose of proclaiming his gospel as well as an awareness that we are to live every moment in obedience to him. It is easy to start living the present for our own pursuits and pleasures while thinking we always have tomorrow to prepare spiritually for Christ’s return and accept the salvation Christ offers. What we fail to realize is that we may not. The next moment in time may be our last on earth. The most important question we should ask is not “what will we plan for tomorrow?” Rather it is, “What must we do today?” Living in expectation of his return means that we live today for him.