I have been thinking about time all week long. New Year’s Day and birthdays always do that. Time is marching unstoppably toward the end--the end of the world, the end of life, the end of days.
As we open to Luke 21 we are opening the door to the future, and peering at the end of the world through the eyes of the Creator Himself, the Judge of all, and the One who will signal the end of days. With the end in sight, what does Jesus say we should be motivated to do? He tells us at the end of His sermon. He warns us that we can get mesmerized by life, hypnotized by time, and forget what we are here to do.
Each Year’s Final Day
Have you ever noticed the curious difference about time on New Years Eve? Almost every other day of the year time seems the same. But that night it is brought home to us that time is moving. Usually we use our watch to check our movement. We check our watch to be sure we get here or there at the right time, and it is us we think about moving. But on New Year’s Eve we watch as time moves inexorably into another year.
“. . . on New Year's Eve . . . we can almost hear the stream of time beginning to murmur as it drops over the dam of that strange midnight hour. We become aware of the fact that we are not living an endless repetitive cycle, but we are moving on a straight line of time and we can never retrace it.”
Life and time are so much reflected by how we look at our watch or clock. We check to see how long before something happens, or to check to make sure we are arriving somewhere on time. Often the circle of a clock’s face makes us think time repeats itself over and over. We have noon today, noon tomorrow, and noon next week.
We imagine that if we don’t get something done it will be okay because we will have another similar time tomorrow. The illusion of time being circular and coming around each day makes us miss the fact that time is going by irretrievably! What we have done, said, and been--is irrevocably done and unchangeably a part of our life. Our steps can’t be retraced. Our mistakes can not be undone. We can’t add what we have missed, we can’t erase what we have done. It is final. Time is linear and unstoppable. We are headed to the end of not only our earthly days, but towards earth’s final days.
That is what Jesus is pointing out to us in Luke 21 where we open in God’s Word today.
In Luke 21 we see the end of everyone’s life as it was. Time stops. Life ends. Nothing is the same again. Christ's Coming simply reveals what people have been all the time. Paul tells us later that "each man's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it" (1 Corinthians 3:13).
The truly shocking thing about that is that what we are proved to be in that Day, we must continue to be forever! What we have been in the secret places of the heart through life must now be displayed as our true self through eternity.
A Final New Year's Eve
This is what the sudden intervention of Jesus Christ into human affairs seems to be: a final New Year's Eve midnight hour when men will become aware that life has been lived, and it is whatever it is and will never be any different. No one can go back and change it.
That leaves us facing an inevitable question: How long have you lived? "Oh," you say, "I am (so many) years old." No, you cannot answer in those terms.
Luke 21 is Christ's call to live deliberately, to live purposefully, to plan to live in such a way that it counts for enduring treasure in Heaven. How long have you lived? God measures life differently that we do.
The great missionary to
"Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last."
Now let us ask it again: How long have you lived? How much of your life will abide the day of his coming? Whatever is not gold, silver or precious stones, coming from the activity of his life in you, is nothing more than hay, wood, and stubble. When are you going to start living? You only have today!
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