On Tuesday of Holy Week, like many other times throughout His ministry, Jesus finished His day by retreating with His disciples away from the crowds to talk. He brought them to the Mount of Olives where He continued to explain the secrets of the kingdom. This conversation, however, took on a more foreboding tone than He had previously taken. He spoke to them of Israel’s coming judgment, and in this, He taught them—and taught us—about what it means to be ready as His disciples:
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:36-51 ESV)
To teach them how the end would look, Jesus started by making clear how unpredictable the timing of it would be. Jesus was the Son of Man who would return, and like a thief coming in the night, no one would be able to predict when that would be.
Then He posed a question—“Who then is the faithful and wise servant?”—leading them to think through how it would look for them to be faithful and wise as they awaited His return. And in the second part of the question, He revealed the answer—“to give them their food at the proper time.” So faithfulness and wisdom in Jesus’s kingdom looks like doing what He, the Master of the house, has asked us to do and not sleeping on the job.
Jesus expects us to be doing what He instructed us to do at all times, such that there’s no question we would be doing it upon His return. And so “being ready” for our Lord’s return is to do the things He told us to do. And what has He told us to do? When answering this question, a good place to start is the Great Commandment and the Great Commission:
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40 ESV)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)
Now, in light of these words from Jesus, let’s look at what being ready looks like for each of us: