When I set out to write a daily year long blog called “A Year With Jesus” I spent a lot of time reading the four gospels. In fact, I have spent over twenty months studying them constantly. Here we are, just forty days away from the end—and every entry so far has had an accompanying scripture, until this one.
I wanted to write “A Year With Jesus” because Jesus is everything to me. Every part of my life revolves around doing what I believe he has called me to do. My family is in this with me. Right there in bold letters in our Family Vision Statement (you should think about writing one) it says “To love and serve Jesus.”
To me, Jesus is my savior.
To me, Jesus is my Lord.
To me, Jesus is my friend.
To me, Jesus is my King.
“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46 ESV)
Jesus stated very plainly that in the life to come there would only be two possible destinations for the soul. Heaven or hell. Eternal life or eternal death.
The thought of hell can be pretty crazy. Most literal interpretations or beliefs are rooted in the idea of a place of fiery torment that burns but does not consume. I don’t know what hell will be, but I do know what my capacity for understanding the Scriptures leads me to believe. I believe that hell will indeed be a place of unending torment. It will be so horrible that it will be as if the most anguishing kinds of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain were all rolled into one.
Those who live under the grace and Lordship of Jesus will be spared that agony. They will find eternal life, joy, and peace. Everyone will wind up in one location or the other. There will be no in-between. There will be no other options. All will go somewhere in the life to come.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:23 ESV)
We know joy as a feeling. But what if it was more than that? What if joy was a place too? What if the feeling we have come to know as joy is in fact only a small reflection of a place that we all have the chance to one day live in. I believe joy might be the single greatest word in the English language we could use to describe Heaven.
Jesus’ teaching of the parable of ten talents points out several practical life lessons. It also sheds some light on what Christians can expect in the next life. Those who follow Jesus will indeed be one day escorted into the Joy of the Master.
I remember what it was like as a small boy to please my father. It was wonderful. Eternal life with the Master must be something like that. I think it will be like the inexhaustible notion of a job-well-done wrapped in the blissful affection of a loving parent doting on a favored child. It will be joy. One day all who have faithfully followed and served will enter joy.
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:32-35, 37 ESV)
Have you ever fell asleep at work? Maybe that’s not even a possibility in your line of work. Maybe it is. Regardless of your particular employment situation, most jobs require some amount of attentiveness to maintain an expected level of proficiency. In a similar way Christ prompts us to maintain a level of attentiveness so that we may be prepared for what is to come. Many authors have sought to exhaust the topic of end times events with their well written and heartfelt works. Many of them may even be working from a God-gifted revelation into the truth of events to come.
I believe that Jesus desires for His church to be ready for any eventuality. Not because He wants us to ride out the End of Days in a comfortable fallout shelter, but because He desires for us to fix our hearts in a mutual direction, namely, in His direction. He wants us to want Him more than we want to leave this place or our circumstance.
What if the Church, as one voice, declared a readiness to embrace the return of the Master? Not as escapism. Not out of negligent disdain for the here and now. What if we were authentically ready, and willing, to see Jesus face to face?
But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ (Matthew 25:12 ESV)
I don’t always answer my phone when it rings. To be honest I just don’t really like talking on the phone that much. But most of the time when I don’t answer the phone, its because I don’t know who is calling.
Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins illuminates a similar point. God will turn away those He does not know. That might sound contradictory if you think of it in terms of factual knowledge. I mean, God is supposed to be all-knowing right? But that kind of knowledge isn’t what Jesus was talking about.
Centuries ago, especially in the Jewish culture, to know meant more than retaining information. It meant to experience something first hand. Thus, knowing God would mean that you had experienced Him. Experiencing God only happens through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 24: 36-51
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42 ESV)
We don’t know the exact year, day, or hour that Jesus will return. I do believe that authentic believers will have an innate sense about his approach, but the details are beyond us. It is something we do not know, and cannot know until the moment in which we experience it.
Jesus compared it to being watchful over a house in danger of robbery. If you knew your house was going to be robbed you would take all kinds of extra precautions. And if you knew the exact moment in the night when the robber was going to approach you would be ready.
Christ will return, and when he does he wants to embrace a ready church. He is looking for a people that are awake, alert, and watching. So, stay awake.
Matthew 24: 29-35
So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. (Matthew 24:33 ESV)
I love to travel. We used to drove across the country every summer to visit my brother in North Carolina. They were usually really fun trips to make, but I always like coming home. I love driving in on the interstate and keeping track of the signs that tell me how close I am to home.
During Jesus’ teaching on the Last Days he told his followers that they would be able to determine the Last Days by looking at the signs. Will our generation be the ones to experience the Second Coming of Christ? What do the signs show us?
Some people get a little weird when it comes to this stuff. They start to make crazy predictions. I don’t think that’s what Jesus was shooting for. Jesus wasn’t trying to teach his people how to calculate the moment of his return. He was stressing to them the importance of their continued watch. He wanted his followers to remain a perpetually ready people.
When I am driving home from a long trip I take note of the signs that point me to home. The reason why is because I am looking for them. I am seeking reassurance and direction. I believe that Christ demonstrates that for his people. When his return is imminent all of his followers will know it. They will be looking for him.