“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (verses 42-44)
In light of everything Jesus has told us in this chapter about his second coming: keep watch. His coming is a certainty. It will be unmistakable. It’s guaranteed by his unshakable word. The timing will be unexpected. In fact, no one knows the day or the hour, only the Father. So be ready. Always.
The brief parable Jesus tells points out how easy it would be to be completely caught off-guard. A thief doesn’t advertise his schedule. In fact, he comes at the most unexpected moment. As a result, the owner of the house is totally surprised – he wasn’t expecting a burglar break-in. But if he’d been vigilant, all would have been fine.
The story is a wake-up call. Keep watch. Don’t be caught off-guard. Don’t slack off. It’s not enough to say “yes” to the Kingdom and then sit down and take it easy, happily contented with the idea of a secure future but not engaging in Kingdom activity here and now. Be ready.
Which is to say, stay engaged with the Lord – keep active in following him at every step, in every aspect of life. Keep living your life oriented toward him, allocating your time and resources in ways that would please him, seeking his presence all along the way, living with the purpose of seeing his Kingdom come, his will be done.
Therefore, “keep watch” to avoid the negative consequence of being caught by surprise. But the flip side is to “keep watch”because you’re so eager to fully welcome the Lord when he comes. Avoiding an unexpected disaster is one motivation. Chomping-at-the-bit with eagerness is the other.
Ultimately, they both play out together. Changing the image slightly, I like to think that our home is always kept beautifully clean and presentable (being the “retired-man-of-the-house,” that duty now falls to me!). In reality, it’s often not quite as tidy and organized and comfortable as I might assume. But give me the opportunity to have some out-of-town friends come to stay overnight and everything gets in great shape quickly. Sure, it’s true that I don’t want to look like a slob (the negative motivation), but I’m also so eager to enjoy a good visit that I make sure the place is spruced up, clean, comfortable, with beds freshly made, and food ready. Meanwhile I’m also regularly checking the time, watching at the door, and simply anticipating (with eagerness!) their arrival.
Keep watch for Jesus. Don’t be caught off-guard. Instead, anticipate his coming so eagerly that you stay engaged in obediently following him each moment, in active preparation for his return.
Dear Lord Jesus, keep my eye on the goal of your coming. I don’t know when it will be, but I want to be ready – I want to be actively serving you now, as if this is the very moment. Strengthen me by your Spirit to be your faithful servant.
Reflect: Take some time right now to talk to the Lord about how eager you are to see him face to face, and how glad you are to be able to serve him faithfully right now. Renew the conversation during the day. Take steps to live it out.