Palm Sunday (described in Luke 19 and other places) commemorates Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem. On that day, the Sunday before His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus entered into Jerusalem to the loud Hosannahs of the people.
38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. (Luke 19:38)
They were excited for the coming of the Lord, although they were mistaken in what they thought He had come to do. Most probably expected Jesus to overthrow Roman rule and establish Israel as an independent nation again—not die as a sacrifice for their sins. So, sadly, they missed the reason for Jesus’s first coming.
The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem foreshadows a vastly bigger and more important second triumphal entry—the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Just as the Jews of Bible times were supposed to be alert to the First Coming of their Messiah, so Christians are to be alert to His Second Coming. In what way should we do this? Jesus gives us two parables here that teach us how to live in light of His Second Coming. First, we see that we must…
LIVE IN ANTICIPATION OF JESUS’S RETURN
Luke 12:35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
In Bible times, both men and women wore long flowing garments. When it came time to do work that required exertion, it was necessary to tie up the garment around one’s waist so you did not trip over it. This is what Jesus refers when He says, “Let your loins be girded about.” Today, we might say something like, “Roll up your sleeves and get to work.”
Jesus goes on to tell a parable to illustrate this principle:
Luke 12:36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
Here’s what’s happening: a wealthy man who has servants has gone off to get married. In Hebrew culture, a wedding was a great and festive occasion that could last several days. So the servants are left at home to wait for his return.
When would he come back? They might know the general time frame, but the wedding could go on for a day or two longer, or it might be a day or two shorter. This wasn’t a time-specific culture like ours. Even the most clock-indifferent of us will say things like, “I’ll be there about one o clock” or “early afternoon.”
But for these servants, the master could return anytime over a span of a week! And they needed to be ready even for a return in the middle of the night (see verse 38).
And then, surprise! The master knocks at the door. Why does he knock? He owns the house. Only a stranger would knock at the door. I could not find any cultural insights here, so I am not going to push very far on it. It could merely be a simple detail—it’s the middle of the night and the servants have the house locked up tight, so the master has to knock. They didn’t have keys and combination codes back then.
But it does remind me of the famous verse in Revelation—
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
In this verse, Jesus is knocking on the door of lukewarm Christians. “Wake up!” He says, “Is anyone home? I want to fellowship with you!”
These servants are not dreading the return of their master—they are eager for it. They love him. They want to meet his new bride. They will be blessed when he returns:
Luke 12:37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
This is incredible! The master, upon his return, sits his servants down at the table and makes them supper! He serves them. Now we see the reason for their alertness and eagerness for the master’s return. They know that he is a gracious and loving and serving master.
Do we fear or dread the second coming of Jesus Christ? Or do we anticipate it with joy?
A surprising number of Christians actually dread the Second Coming. They want to do other things—raise their kids, get them married, see their grandkids born, have success in their ventures, and so on. Then, when they have fulfilled their lives, then Jesus can come back. Oh, wait, there’s one more thing they want to do…just wait a bit longer, Jesus.
There is a technical theological term for that mentality: stupid. It’s like having a free meal at any restaurant of your choosing, and you go to McDonalds and get the dollar meal. Why would you pass up the best meal you could have—free?
The Second Coming of Jesus is going to be a great blessing for those Christians who are eager and waiting for our Master’s return. How could we not want to anticipate His coming above all things?
In the second parable, Jesus highlights our need to…
LIVE IN ALERTNESS OF JESUS’S RETURN
Luke 12:39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
The phrase, “broken through” might sound odd to us…we would say that our house was “broken into.”
But remember, this was a culture where they lived in mud-brick homes. A thief could literally dig through a wall, even in a location where he thought that valuables were being stored and grab them without even entering the home.
If a homeowner knew that a thief was coming, he would stay awake, listening for the sound of digging through the mud-brick wall.
Comparing Jesus to a thief coming in the night can be troubling to the moral sensibilities of some people. Is Jesus a thief? No, Jesus isn’t saying that we take every aspect of this thief in the night comparison to be true.
Only the part of Him coming unexpectedly like a thief is relevant. This is very common comparison in the Bible:
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)
Jesus’s Second Coming will be unexpected, like a thief coming in the night. Like the homeowner, we must be ready:
Luke 12:40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
In the first parable, we also see this unexpected aspect of His coming:
Luke 12:38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
The second and third watches are at night. Depending on whether you use Roman or Jewish reckoning, it could be from 9 or 10 PM until 2 or 3 AM.
Here’s an interesting fact: Jesus often pictures Himself returning at night. Why? Well, it’s not to be taken literally, as Jesus could come back at noon as easily as midnight. But there are metaphorical reasons that we could point to:
1) Night and darkness is symbolic of evil and sin. It’s at night that thieves like to strike, for instance. Perhaps the Bible is making a statement on what the condition of the world will be like when He returns: full of darkness.
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (2 Timothy 3:1–4)
I know that we have been in the last days for centuries, and that some centuries are worse than other centuries, but the general trend towards the end will be a decline. The world will slip more and more into a godless darkness.
2) Night is when most people are sleepy. The time between Jesus’s first and second coming will be a time of night; a time when most people are asleep spiritually. That’s why the Bible calls people to wake up!
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11)
What is it like to be asleep? You dream. Some dreams are good, some are bad. But what is true of all dreams? They all end. Sometimes we are happy when a dream ends and we snap awake. Other times, we wake up and wish the dream was reality. But all dreams are temporary.
Those who are spiritually sleeping are caught up in temporary dreams. They are, in the words of Jesus elsewhere, storing up treasures on earth instead of in Heaven. What’s going to happen to all our earthly treasures? They will all fade away like our dreams do when we awaken from sleep.
Jesus is calling us to live in alertness of His return. We need to…
LIVE READY TO GO
How do we live ready to go?
1) Readiness Must Always Start With Salvation.
There are plenty of people who say they are still seeking God. They say that one day, when they got things figured out, they’ll get right with God. Let me tell you something, when Jesus comes again, He won’t be coming for those who are still seeking. He will come for those who are ready.
Are you ready? I don’t just mean that you’ve peace with God because you and Him have reached an understanding. If you are not trusting in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation you have not made peace with God; you have not reached an understanding. The Bible says:
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
There is no other way to be ready to meet God than to trust in Jesus Christ.
What if you are a Christian? What do you need to do to be ready?
2) Readiness Means Being A Witness Of Christ
Let’s go back to the parable that Jesus used and bring out another aspect. If you knew that a thief was going about your neighborhood breaking into houses, would you not feel compelled to tell your friends and neighbors about what was happening? Sure, you would encourage them to stay awake at night, watching for the thief.
How’s your witness? All of us have room for improvement.
One particular area we need to be aware of more in our witness is social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so forth are all tools with double edges. On the one hand, we can witness to far more people with them.
On the other hand, when we post an angry or sarcastic comment about politics or something that someone did that affects our witness of Jesus Christ.
What’s more, it’s not like just a couple friends see it, it’s out there for the whole world to see (don’t lecture me about the privacy settings—I know about them, but you get the point).
Church, especially you young people, consider well your online presence. It can be used for a mighty force for being a witness to Christ. Or it can turn into another worldly place where you look no different from the other people arguing, bickering, name-calling, and so forth.
Being ready for Jesus’s Second Coming will include other things as well. Praying for specific individuals to be saved, praying for God’s kingdom to come, living holy and godly lives, and so on.
But we won’t do any of those things with any consistency or enthusiasm if we don’t anticipate His coming. If we don’t care about the blessings that Jesus has for us when He returns, we won’t anticipate His coming. If we don’t anticipate His coming, we won’t stay awake and alert.
There’s a scene in one of the Little House On The Prairie books that reminds me of the Second Coming of Jesus—how we should be excited for it, how we should strive to remain awake, and how happy we’ll be when He comes.
In the story, it’s winter, and Pa had left before sun-up and walked to town to sell his furs and to buy supplies. His goal was to be back before dark.
They knew that Pa would trade his furs to the storekeeper for beautiful things from town, and all day they were expecting the presents he would bring them. When the sun sank low above the treetops and no more drops fell from the tips of the icicles they began to watch eagerly for Pa.
The sun sank out of sight, the woods grew dark, and he did not come. Ma started supper and set the table, but he did not come. It was time to do the chores, and still he had not come.
They go out, do chores, encounter a bear in the barnyard, and still, no Pa.
Then [Ma] put supper on the table for Laura and Mary. Pa had not come yet. He didn’t come. Laura and Mary were undressed, and they said their prayers and snuggled into the trundle bed.
…Laura listened to the wind in the Big Woods. All around the house the wind went crying as though it were lost in the dark and the cold. The wind sounded frightened.
Ma finished mending the shirt. Laura saw her fold it slowly and carefully. She smoothed it with her hand…
She saw that Laura and Mary were still awake, and she said to them: “Go to sleep, girls. Everything is all right. Pa will be here in the morning.”
Then she went back to her rocking chair and sat there rocking gently and holding Baby Carrie in her arms. She was sitting up late, waiting for Pa, and Laura and Mary meant to stay awake, too, till he came. But at last they went to sleep.
In the morning Pa was there. He had brought candy for Laura and Mary, and two pieces of pretty calico to make them each a dress…
They were all happy because Pa had got such good prices for his furs that he could afford to get them such beautiful presents. (Little House In The Big Woods)
Are we eagerly anticipating Jesus like Laura and Mary and Ma longed for Pa’s return? Are we happy for His coming?