Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel passage this week turns our attention squarely to the last days, with the second coming of Christ. It is very sad that these passages have been ruined by so much of the popular preaching and writing that apparently passes for Christianity just now. Many authors have so twisted the Gospel predictions to use them to provoke fear and dread around the second coming, rather than the great anticipation which is given to us, this week, by Mark.
Anticipation? Really? But, as one person insisted on telling me repeatedly in a recent conversation, “It says to be alert!” It certainly does. Let’s take it from Jesus’ explanation in verses 33-37, then put the beginning of the passage in context.
Jesus speaks of a completely commonplace event. A man going away for a while makes sure his staff knows what to do and will be on duty. He especially reminds the guards to be alert. They do want to know him and be ready when he returns. The man presumably leaves, the people do what they are supposed to do, and they expect him to return. What happens when he returns? We don’t know. It’s safe to assume his household staff welcomes him and all is well. They are not all fired but they don’t expect to be made rulers or anything.
How would this apply to the Christians? Those who trust that Jesus has taken their sin are his redeemed people. He has already called them his friends and said they are heirs with him. Since he left, things have been pretty rough. There have been attacks from enemies. The world seems to be in a shambles, about like it was before the resurrection. These troubles, according to verses 29-30, are signs that the Lord and Master needs to come. What does he do? In verses 26-27 he comes back, like he said he would. Are his people still living as Christians? That’s what he told them to do. They recognize him and he gathers them together. They are already his friends and joint heirs of heaven. It won’t get better than that. But they can know Jesus is, in fact, gathering his people to bring them to their reward.
One of the jobs Jesus has given every Christian is that of telling others they, too, can be friends of Christ and heirs with him of the kingdom of heaven. These people who hear and believe are among those Jesus will gather.
So why is this passage used as bad news? Some will not believe. May the Lord have mercy on all people, calling them out of darkness, into his light, making them his forgiven friends as well.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.