Read Mark 13:32-33 (ESV)
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.”
Have you ever heard anyone claiming they knew when Jesus would return? Based on today's verses, what would be your response to that?
People have been predicting the return of Jesus for centuries. But guess what? They have never been correct. Just last year, there was chatter on the internet: Is the Covid-19 pandemic the end of the world? Is this part of the tribulation? It seems like every time a catastrophe occurs, people wonder if this is the end. Some people are definitely preoccupied with finding out when He’ll be back. According to a Washington Post article from March 17, 2020, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey in 2010 that said 41% of Americans believed that Jesus would return by 2050 but it was unclear what they based that prediction on.
But can we really predict Jesus’s return? Should Christians, or anybody for that matter, put any stock in doomsday claims? According to Jesus in today’s verses, no! Jesus clearly stated that no one knows when Jesus would return. In fact, He said that He didn’t even know when He would return. Only God the Father knows.
When Jesus came to earth as a man, He took on aspects of humanity but remained fully God. Understanding the dual natures of Christ (fully God/fully man) can be difficult. Just as it is difficult for us to wrap our minds around the Trinity. God has revealed so much to us about Himself, and yet, somethings remain a mystery to us and beyond our human capacities to comprehend. How Jesus could be fully human and thus, have a limited knowledge of His own return, but at the same time be fully God and therefore have infinite knowledge is difficult to grasp. But the Bible records that Christ emptied Himself and took on human form in Philippians 2:7. When Jesus walked the earth, He explained that He didn’t know the day or hour of His own return and the created beings in heaven do not know either. Only God the Father knows the day and time that He has set.
So, rather than jumping on the next doomsday prediction bandwagon, what does Jesus say we should do? He warns that we should always be prepared. We can’t predict His return, but we can live in expectation of it. We should always “be on guard” and “keep awake.” We know for sure that He is coming back and we know for sure that every day is one day closer than the day before.
In Matthew 24:42-51, Jesus repeated His statement that no one knows when the Lord is coming so we should be ready and watchful. He compared it to being on night watch. We don’t know when threats are coming and we don’t know when a thief may break into the house, so we should always be ready. Jesus also used an illustration of two servants that were left in charge while the master was away. One of them used his time wisely and completed his tasks efficiently and purposefully because he wanted to be found faithful if the master should suddenly return. The other servant was lazy and did not steward his time well. He spent his days mistreating those in his charge and carousing instead of working. Jesus said that when the master returned to find the servant mismanaging his time and his tasks, that servant was punished in hell.
We cannot know when Jesus will return. But we do know that He will. And when He does, will He find us faithfully stewarding our time, our gifts, and our resources? Will He find us believing His Word and expecting His return in faith? In Luke 18:8, Jesus asked a similar question: “...when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Let’s always be ready, friends.
Lord, I long for Your return but I admit that I often get caught up in the cares of this world and all of my worldly tasks. Help me to diligently anticipate Your return and wisely steward the gifts that You have given me. Help me live more expectantly. I want to be found faithful, Lord. Amen.