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Read Matthew 24:36-51.
To illustrate just how sudden His coming will be, Jesus told three short parables. First, He compared the generation that will be alive for His return to Noah's generation, which was filled with wickedness, self-indulgence, and complacency. The people had no regard for God's Word; they mocked Noah as he tried to warn them of coming judgment—and they were taken by surprise when the flood came.
Our Savior, who paid for our salvation with His own blood, is warning us that not everyone will be saved.
As part of this first picture, Jesus described the separation that will take place between those who love the Lord Jesus and those who merely pretend to be Christians. Two coworkers, two relatives, two next-door neighbors, two roommates—one will go to heaven, the other one will go to hell. Our Savior, who paid for our salvation with His own blood, is warning us that not everyone will be saved. Only those who are faithful to Him will be rescued.
Second, Jesus says His coming will be like the coming of a thief in the night. Of course, a thief comes when the owner of the home is not expecting him. He comes quietly and under the cover of darkness. And he comes to steal your valuables.
What is the most valuable possession you have? Of course, it's your soul. And if your soul has been deposited in the greatest safety deposit box of all, in the hands of Jesus Christ, then you can sleep like a baby because you are prepared for His sudden appearing. All the world can unravel around you, and you will yet have peace because your most valuable possession—your soul—is safely in Jesus' hands. But for those without such security, Jesus' words are a warning: The time is coming; prepare today so that His return does not take you by surprise.
Finally, Jesus contrasts a faithful servant to a servant who lives as if his master will never return. The faithful servant is serving and doing and giving of himself. It is his expectation that the master will return at any moment, and this motivates him to be faithful in his duties. But the wicked servant abuses his position and does whatever feels right to him in the moment. So, when the master returns, he is caught off-guard. The day of reckoning has come.
Friends, Jesus calls us to be watchful. That doesn't mean we need to spend our days staring up at the sky. Rather, it means that we are to be busy working, serving, witnessing, and ministering to others. It means we are to be about the Lord's business until that glorious day when He returns and finds us faithful.
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep watch—to be working as a faithful servant for the day of Your return. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" (Matthew 24:42).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Is the End Near?: WATCH NOW