So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. – Matthew 24:44
We have an ongoing competition at our house. Perhaps you do too? Our competition is a sort of game of “Beat the Clock,” in which the kids (okay…and Dad too, sometimes) are striving to see just how close we can come to It’s-time-to-leave-RIGHT-NOW-what-do-you-mean-you-don’t-have-your-shoes-on-and-your-hair-combed?? without missing the event. While we are rarely actually late, it’s amazing how often it happens—despite the best-laid plans—that we are rushing around at the last possible moment striving to get those final details taken care of, and then sprinting out the door.
Perhaps there are other parents who can relate?
Maybe this is a silly kind of example, but our family game of Beat the Clock has me thinking about “readiness” in general. In Matthew 24, Jesus is admonishing his disciples to be prepared, to have their eyes and ears open, to be watching for Christ’s coming.
I was never a Boy Scout, but I love the Scout Motto: BE PREPARED. This is such a simple, and yet profound goal. Be ready for anything. You never know what might be coming your way, so do be mentally and physically ready, and have your antennae up. Be prepared!
This kind of preparedness seems to me to be more of a you-know-things-are-happening-so-how-will-you-be-ready? sort of readiness. Being prepared in this way comes through training and equipping. Scouts practice their skills, and they learn by doing. They have mentors (scoutmasters) who help them develop their thinking and abilities. When Jesus admonished his disciples with this teaching about being ready, he had been teaching them, training them, equipping them for the work involved. It might seem silly to picture Jesus as a scoutmaster, but perhaps that isn’t a bad analogy? (He did take them hiking all over the Jewish countryside for a few years, didn’t he?) And Jesus was ever teaching them, and having them learn by doing. He equipped the disciples for the work they were going to do, and even promised them that they would do even greater things than he had done himself! (See John 14:10-14.)
I wonder if the disciples understood the full gravity of what Jesus was teaching them in that moment when he told them to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Did they understand that they should be actively expecting the coming of the Kingdom? Did they understand that they should be actively working for the coming of the Kingdom? I believe Jesus was teaching them and equipping them for this work. Perhaps Jesus’ admonition is less of a “have-your-shoes-tied-and-hair-combed-so-you-don’t-miss-the-bus” sort of message? What if it’s more of a “you’ve-been-trained-and-equipped-so-get-busy-bringing-in-the-Kingdom” kind of encouragement? How would this change your sense of expectation?
For those of us living between Christ’s first coming and second coming, we too are called to be ready. Are you living expectantly, watching for Christ’s coming? Are you looking for the places where the Kingdom will break into the here-and-now? Are you ready—not just ready for Christ’s coming, but ready to get to work?