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READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!

Devotional for First Sunday in Advent, December 3, 2017 based upon Mark 13: 24-37

When you were young, did you play Hide and Seek?  If so, where was your favorite place to hide, and were you able to find a place to hide where no one was ever able to find you?

In playing Hide and Seek, the person who is It will close his eyes, while everyone else runs and hides.  The person who is It counts to a hundred or so and then says, “Ready or not, here I come!”  In our Gospel lesson for the first Sunday in Advent Jesus is saying to the world, “Ready or not, here I come!”  But unlike Hide and Seek, this is not a game.  This is dead serious.  We are in the final countdown before Jesus appears on earth to judge the world and to gather the faithful.  Jesus concludes His talking about His return with the words, “What I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”  Ready or not, Jesus is coming.  We had better be ready.  We had better get ready.  But how do we get ready?  In our Gospel lesson Jesus tells us three things that we need to and can do to get ready.

First, JESUS TELLS US TO KEEP AWAKE AND WATCH.  

Now of course, we all need to be asleep part of the time – six, seven, or eight hours a day.  But this is not what Jesus is talking about.  Rather He is talking about the sleep of being unprepared.  The sleep of not caring about what is happening in the world.  The sleep of indifference and unconcern.  Like the cartoon that depicted a couple men talking at a party.  One rather unconcerned-looking man said to the other, “So what if it’s Armageddon?  It’s not the end of the world.”

We need to be awake to the fact that someday Jesus will return – to bring history to a close, to judge the wicked and to gather the faithful.  According to the Bible, there is no question at all as to the certainty of His return.  The only question is when.  A car accident can happen – an explosion can occur – like a bolt out of the blue.  Jesus said that His return will be like that.  Sudden and immediate.  We must be ready before He comes, because we cannot get ready when He comes.  We must wake up from our sleep of business-as-usual, because Jesus is coming – whether or not we are ready.

Second, JESUS TELLS US TO KEEP AWAKE, WATCH, AND PRAY.

But what does prayer have to do with being ready for Jesus’ second coming?  Through prayer we keep in touch with God.  If we daily keep in touch with God, we will not become careless about being ready.  We will always be ready for Jesus’ return at any time.

And then we also need to pray for those who do not know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  We do not want these people to be found without faith if Jesus should return.  It is our responsibility to pray daily that they will be ready when Jesus returns.  

A young boy was fishing with his grandfather off the coast.  The young lad noticed a flashing light coming from the lighthouse even though it was mid-day.  The child said, “But I thought they used that light only when there was fog or a storm.”  His grandfather replied, “No, son, they use it all the time, because you never know when fog or bad weather might come up.  It’s better to always be prepared than to miss the opportunity to save someone’s life.”

Prayer is our taking advantage of every opportunity to save someone’s life.  In good times and in bad, in sunshine and in storm, we need to keep awake, watch, and pray that souls will respond to the love of God and get ready.

Third, JESUS TELLS US TO KEEP AWAKE, WATCH, AND WORK.

When Jesus returns suddenly and unexpectedly, what will He find you doing?  Jesus expects each one of us to be about His work, so that when He comes, He will find us doing what He wants us to be doing.

A traveler was visiting a castle in northern Italy.  The old gardener opened the gates.  The visitor stepped into the garden, which was being kept perfectly.  The visitor asked, “When was the owner last here?”  He was told, “Twelve years ago.”  “Does he ever write?”  “No.”  “Where do you get your instructions?”  “From Milan.”  “Does the owner ever come?”  “No.”  “But you keep the grounds as through your master were returning tomorrow.”  The old gardener replied, “Sir, I keep the grounds as though my master were returning today.”  As Christians we need to keep awake, watch, pray, and work as though Jesus were returning today.

Whether or not you are ready, Jesus is coming.  If you are not ready, you have reason to dread His return.  If you are ready, you have reason to rejoice.  For He is coming to be with us, to bless us, and to take us home to be with Him in glory.

Jesus is saying, “Ready or not, here I come!”  Are you ready?

Dennis D. Nelson

President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE