If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:38-40 ESV)
One of the ironies of Jesus’ teaching about His “return” in this historical context is that He hadn’t left yet. Keep in mind that His disciples hadn’t yet accepted that He’s going to “leave” in any sense. You also do well to remember that His resurrection may well have provided them the “return” in their minds, at least for 40 days or so. So, in the actual context of Jesus saying these things they were baffling to His disciples.
I recently had a pastor tell me that calling Jesus’ final return the “Second Coming” was really misleading. His point was that Jesus had been “visiting” this place a lot, even before His birth. Why should be surprised to find that He’s visiting a few times before His “Return”? That really got me thinking. I don’t know where the term “Second Coming” actually came from, but I can’t think of a single Scripture that refers to Jesus’ final return with that term. Could it be possible that we are as baffled as the disciples as to what Jesus teaches here?
The possibility of “entertaining angels” is one thing, but to consider that we could be entertaining the “Angel of the Lord” is actually quite frightening. Think that through. What if Jesus, in the form or office as the Angel of the Lord, does visit you? Would you be comfortable having Him “checking in” on you? “Thought I’d drop by for a visit,” He says, “How’s it going?” You reply. For me, it could get very uncomfortable very quick.
I’m not saying that Jesus does this, but why couldn’t He? He seems to have before (see an entry in my previous blog), and by this I mean a physical manifestation of God, often in human form (the burning bush was also referred to as the Angel of the Lord). So, if Jesus has been here, or God has been here in physical human form, then what would prevent Him from showing up from time to time now? I have to admit, it would be nice to have such an appearance now and again. It often looks as if the church really needs a “visitation”.
But I also see in these prior examples that He shows up to one person, somewhat like the “…Almighty” movies with Morgan Freeman. On the other hand He seems to “visit” believers. So, a solitary believer might actually see Jesus, but who’d believe them? I don’t think it’s about who would believe them, it’s about what they would do different after having seen Jesus. Jesus’ appearances apart from His earthly ministry, were not for public consumption, not as our culture consumes anyway. Jesus comes to help a person make a big change.
So, in that sort of light, am I ready? Is my lamp trimmed? Am I awake and ready to be visited by the Maker of all Matter? And not for the end of the world, but for the end of my faithlessness, the end of my struggles with certainty, the end of my wishy-washy meandering I call “following Jesus”. Are you ready? Would you be ready to fire up the grill for the One having made the cow you’re about to throw on it? (Yes, I believe Jesus prefers beef, so what?) Well, I suggest we all be ready for a surprise visit from Jesus. You just never know who’s coming to dinner.
What do you learn from Jesus’ call to be ready?