We’re in that part of Matthew that a lot of people love to really get into, the part about the end of the world, and the end of time, etc. Hundreds and hundreds of books, movies, websites, etc. have been written about it, from a thousand different views. When I was growing up, there was a series of movies that came out about all of this. One of them was called “A Thief in the Night”. You can see the first five minutes, and then even watch the whole thing if you want at Veoh.com if you have a couple of hours to kill. It scared me to death. I almost wet the pew when we watched it in church one Sunday night. I definitely had nightmares about Jesus coming back for weeks after that. I’d wake up screaming “No! Don’t chop off my head! Helllpppp!” That was the whole point of the movie, to literally scare Hell right out of all of us so we would trust Jesus and hide behind Him from the anti-Christ and his guillotines of death. It was the 70’s precursors to the Left Behind series of books and movies and coffee mugs.
Is THAT what Jesus is doing here? Is Matthew 24:36-51 one big crazy ghost story Jesus delivered with a flashlight under his chin in a dark room? I mean, clearly it’s a warning. But is it a warning that we are not terrified enough, and we don’t get just how ugly God is going to make things? Or is it a warning about ourselves and our values?
Jesus tells three stories here in succession. The first is about the folks who were around in Noah’s day. It took Noah over 100 years to build the ark. He preached the whole time he was pounding posts into place. No one listened. No one cared. Story #2 is about a home owner who gets broken into and robbed. If he had known when the thief was coming, he wouldn’t have allowed himself to be robbed. The third is about a servant who is in charge of others. If he’s smart, he will work hard, and do the right things, even when his boss is gone. You never know when the boss is going to come back.
Jesus clearly wants those who love Him to be alert, because He is coming back for us (good news) and it will surprise us when it comes (good news). With the Noah story, the people didn’t buy the warning, and got caught up in day to day stuff, making it priority. In the robbery, the guy wasn’t prepared to protect what was his. He was lazy, and paid for it. In the last story, the servant leader was corrupt, and abused his power and position, believing He was too smart to get caught. These three stories have to do with priority over fear.
If we take God at His word, unlike the people of Noah’s day; and we value what God values, and protect it; and we maintain our focus on living a life of purity and honor, we don’t have to worry about when Jesus comes back. We’re ready. It’s not a lesson to be fearful, because you never know when Jesus might pop around the corner of Heaven and scream “I GOT YA!!”. It’s a lesson to be focused on what matters, and live accordingly. Then we don’t have to worry.
Or make kids pee in their pants at church movie nights.