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Matthew 24:36-51 2BC

The Return of Christ
Matthew 24:35-51
Lesson for April 22-23, 2017
Reagan Reynolds

Many people feel a great deal of fear and trepidation when talking about the end of the world. Many Christians have all kinds of baggage after seeing charts and predictions about the end of the world and what it will look like. We certainly don't have all the answers about the end of the world, but this passage gives us an example of Jesus speaking with clarity about a very critical facet of the Christian doctrine of the end times. What is this important thing that we much remember? It's simple: we don't know when Jesus is going to return, so we must be ready at all times. Our passage is from Matthew 24. Our main points:

1) Jesus' Return will be a real, historical event
2) Jesus expects us to be ready for His return
3) Upon Jesus' return, we will be rewarded if we are found ready.

1) Jesus' return will be a real, historical event

36 "But as for that day and hour no one knows it-not even the angels in heaven-except the Father alone. 37 For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. 39 And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; one will be taken and one left.

Jesus picks up in verse 36 in the middle of a conversation about His return. This conversation would have been strange to the disciples, because they still did not understand that Jesus would soon be leaving them. After hinting about the coming of the 'End of the Age,' the disciples question Jesus about what will happen at this time. Jesus tells them that many will be misled by those claiming to be the Christ (verse 5), wars will break out between nations, famines and earthquakes will come (verse 7), and eventually 'They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory' (verse 30). Verses 36-41 go even further to hammer home the fact that Jesus makes the reality of his real, physical return extremely clear. It is easy to overlook this as we settle into the normal routines of our lives, but the scriptures make it very clear that the return of Jesus will happen, and we must act accordingly. Jesus used the example of the days of Noah - people were enjoying the usual ebb and flow of life with no thought of imminent judgment. However, the flood took them all away, except for Noah and his family. The Apostle Peter referred to the flood in 2 Peter 3:3-6. Noah preached, calling people to repentance but he was ignored. Peter also mentioned skeptics who doubt the Second Coming.
They say that all will continue just as it has from creation. In the same way, people question the flood in Noah's day. Skeptics today do not believe that God will intervene in history in the form of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

In verses 40-41, Jesus says that when He returns, people will be going about their daily activities such as work. Those "taken" in Noah's day were taken away in judgment by the flood. Those "left," like Noah and his family, were left safely on the earth on the ark. It will be the same at the Second Coming of Christ. The wicked will be judged and removed. The righteous believers in Jesus will be left on earth to become His subjects in the Kingdom.

2) Jesus expects us to be ready for his return

42 "Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

In these verses, we begin to get a glimpse of why Jesus tells his disciples so much about his return in this section of Matthew. He does not bring these things up just to give the disciples some details about the end of time. Instead, He has a clear purpose in mind: He wants to stress the importance of being ready for his return. Jesus gives the illustration of a thief to make this point clear. If the owner of a house knows the date and time that a thief will come to steal things, then the owner will take precautions on that exact day so that the thief cannot get in. Unfortunately for homeowners, thieves usually do not advertise the time of their arrival, so homeowners must put locks and security systems in their homes at all times to prevent the coming of a thief. Jesus says that we should have this same kind of constant awareness and readiness for His own return.

APPLICATION: He wants us to live every day as though He is returning on the next day. The applications for this point are easy to come up with by asking yourself a simple question: If I knew that Jesus was returning today, would I still be doing the things that I am doing right now? If I knew that Jesus was returning today, would I be spending my time in the same way? Would I use those harsh words to my husband or wife? Would I watch the same TV shows I am watching now? Would I keep participating in the same habits? Jesus makes it clear that it will not be good to be caught off guard upon His return, so we must be ready at all times.

3) Upon Jesus' return, we will be rewarded based upon our readiness

45 "Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes. 47 I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave should say to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' 49 and he begins to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards, 50 then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, 51 and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus gives the illustration of a slave who is left in charge over his master's household. He does not know when his master returns, so the question is: how will he behave in the mean time? If master returns after some time seeing that the servant has been faithfully and responsibly fulfilling his duties, then the master will praise the servant and put him in charge of even more things. However, if he returns finding that the servant has been beating his fellow slaves, getting drunk, and generally behaving badly and irresponsibly, then the master will remove responsibility from that slave and punish him harshly. No doubt, the evil slave thought that the master would not be returning at all.

In the same way, Jesus is gone for an unknown period of time and left each one of us with a responsibility to faithfully use the gifts, talents, time, energy, and influence that we have to build His kingdom. We do not know the day or hour that He will return, but we do know that He will surely return. So, we must behave as if we actually believe He is coming back! This means to act in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord, and we will be rewarded greatly. However, there is nothing worse than being caught at an unexpected time mishandling our responsibilities.

Closing Illustration:

I (Reagan) had a horrible and hilarious experience during my freshman year of college that you are welcome to use in your lesson if you so choose.

During my freshman year of college I took an anthropology class. I went to the first couple of days of class, but I got sick around the third meeting of the class. I ended up missing 2 classes because I was sick, and then I missed the next 2 classes as well because I slept in and was lazy (it was an 8 a.m. class). I was clearly being irresponsible and doing a horrible job of keeping up with the class, but because it was so early in the semester, I thought I wasn't missing anything particularly important. By the time I showed up to class again, I was hoping to catch up on everything that I had missed and get ready for the major assignments of the semester. To my dismay, when I showed up in class on that day (after missing 4 straight classes), the teacher was handing out a syllabus to each student in the class. WE HAD A TEST AND I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON! Even though it was 10 years ago, I can still vividly remember the pit in my stomach as I was caught completely off guard. I had neglected my duties as a student, and my day of reckoning came when I did not expect it. Needless to say, I did not do very well on the test.

POINT: Believe and behave each moment as if Jesus is coming back, because...HE IS!