“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44).
As I write these words I am less than four days from departing for Bangladesh. I have been home a little more than three months since my last trip and will be gone for over three months this time. I have known since arriving in March approximately when my next departure would be, and have had tickets purchased for several weeks. I have spent much of my time these months preparing lessons to teach during the fall semester in Bangladesh and for the campaign in Nepal.
Now ask me, “Are you ready to go? You have your bags all packed and your lessons all prepared, right?” You know the answer to that. I am not even close to ready. I have shopping to do, suitcases to pack, people to see, and yes, more lessons to prepare. I expect to be ready before next Tuesday, but I am not yet and it will take extra effort to accomplish total preparation.
The fact is, preparation is difficult. We are busy, frequently interrupted by unexpected circumstances, and prone (many of us anyway) to putting things off. Departure dates and deadlines approach with certainty and awesome speed, and we find it very difficult to meet them.
If preparation for a known, fixed and important deadline such as a departure date for a long mission trip is difficult, how much harder is it to be constantly prepared for an event whose timing is unknown? That event, of course, is the coming of the Son of Man, or as we more frequently refer to it, the Second Coming of Jesus.
We do not know when he is coming, but we know for certain that he is coming.
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for him he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27,28).
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
“Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8).
As we have certainty about the second coming of Jesus, so we have certainty about the importance of being constantly prepared for his coming. Peter, describing the great day of the Lord, asks, “What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?” (2 Peter 3:12). His answer is, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). Jesus often commanded us to watch and be ready, for his coming would be unexpected and surprising (Matthew 24:42,44).
Preparation for Jesus’ return is not a matter of packing suitcases, nor of preparing lessons to teach. It does not involve passports, visas, or taking shots and buying medicine. Rather it is simply the process and practice of sanctification and faithfulness. To be ready for Jesus is to be found in a forgiven state, reconciled to God through the blood of his Son. It is further to be found in service to God. Paul describes it as follows:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

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