We are working our way through the gospels in our Wednesday night teen class. We are in the end of Matthew during the last days of Jesus’ life. In chapter 24 his disciples ask him about the end of time, the destruction of the Temple, the return of the Messiah, you know…simple matters.
God’s understanding of time is different than ours. He is not bound by the laws of time and space – he created them. He is outside of time. He is on the other side of space. An old hymn, “All Things Praise Thee,” has a line in it: Time and space are praising Thee / All things praise Thee, Lord may we.
Humans have a much different understanding of the ocean than fish do. To a fish the ocean may seem infinite, never ending, going on and on forever (see Finding Nemo). But since we are outside of the ocean we know its limits. We know the boundaries of the seas. We know the paths of ocean currents and the timing of the tides. We can enter the ocean at any point we desire and then exit again.
So I get a sense that when Jesus’ disciples ask him about the time frame in which certain things are going to happen he does his best to put it in terms they will understand. But when it comes right down to it, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mt 24:36).
When will we experience the End of Time? No one knows. This is amazing coming from Jesus, who knew exactly what was going to happen in just a day or two. No one can predict when their life will end – and thus when they will experience the end of time. But Jesus knew when it would happen to him. He knew his “time had come.” As for you and me, we just have to do the best we can with the time we have.
That’s why Jesus instructs us to “keep watch” and “be ready.” It’s not that we should drop everything we’re doing and stare up at the sky while the world passes us by. The way we keep watch, the way we can be ready for Christ to return is to be doing the will of the Father. It’s like when your parents would leave you at home for the day with a list of chores. The only way to be ready for their return is to make sure you are doing the things they left for you to do!
Jesus left us with a task – preaching the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations of the earth. We’ve been going for two thousand years now and still haven’t reached that goal. But if every Christian were to take seriously the words of Christ, we could really shake things up. And we wouldn’t have to be afraid of the end.
“If I live the life I’m given / I won’t be scared to die” – The Avett Brothers, The Once and Future Carpenter