There’s a story of a man who visited a school. As he was leaving, he promised to come back sometime, and when he did he would have a prize for the student who had the cleanest desk.
After he had gone, a little girl who was noted for her cluttered desk announced that she was going to win the prize! Several of her classmates laughed at her. “You?? Your desk is always a mess. No way will you get the prize!”
“Oh yes I will!” she said firmly. “From now on I’m going to clean my desk every Monday morning. First thing.”
That brought another “ha-ha.” “Suppose the man comes on Friday.”
“No problem,” she replied, “I’ll clean it every morning. Then it won’t matter which day he comes.”
Then another spoke up. “What if he comes at the end of the day, not the beginning?”
The girl was silent for a moment, then her face lit up. “I know what I’ll do. I’ll just keep it clean ALL the time, then he can come ANY time!”
Isn’t this the lesson we get from Scripture about being ready when Jesus comes? There is only one answer: Be ready ALL the time.
It is the motto many of us have on our desk or screensaver or wall:
Do nothing you would not want to be found DOING
When Jesus comes.
Say nothing you would not want to be found SAYING
When Jesus comes.
Go to No PLACE where you would not want to be found
When Jesus comes.
This is the principle of Scripture repeated for each of us to hear and HEED: Be ready ALL THE TIME. Remember those “watching” commands of Jesus?
Matthew 25:13 13”Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Mark 13:32 32…of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Mark 13:33 33Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
Jesus is saying, “Take heed…. Watch… pray.”
In other words, Be ALERT. Be READY. ALL the time.
If you are ready ALL THE TIME, you can’t be caught off guard. Jesus warned about this very situation, about being caught unawares, unexpectedly. Read it from Luke 21:34:
Luke 21:34–35 34”But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
A snare is a trap. The original word is skandalon, which was a trap used to catch wild—unwary—animals.
Jesus gave a number of lessons on this subject of being READY for His coming. He knew our tendency to relax, to let the time go by and NOT be getting ready. Think about Jesus’ parable of the Expectant Steward:
Luke 12:35–36 35”Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.
You may have wondered, as I have, why is Jesus said to be “returning from the wedding” when He is coming here FOR the wedding?
The answer is that He is coming from a “great event,” some important event LIKE a wedding, not that it is necessarily a wedding. Think about WHY He went to heaven: first, to receive His own crown of immortality, and training to rule as king of the whole earth. And yes, He is coming to take the reins of government and REIGN! Just like He promised before He went away.
John 14:3 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Whenever He comes, the servants of the house must be watching not to be taken offguard but READY to welcome Him “immediately”—NOT after they clean the house and prepare the dinner and change their clothes and light their lamps.
Luke 12:37: 37Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.
Imagine sitting down at Jesus’ table when Jesus does the serving! Jesus said this on another occasion:
Luke 22:29–30 29And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom.”
Now back to Luke 12, where Peter asked that question we are so glad he asked.
Luke 12:41 41Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?”
Jesus answered Peter with still another parable:
Luke 12:42–43 42And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.
Jesus is speaking about the time of His return and the “meat in due season” they will have. It is our privilege to be among the last in the line—if only we can be found READY to welcome Him when He comes!
This thought of being ready ALL the time is especially part of Jesus’ final message in Revelation. It comes through as “quickly” in our common version. As in Rev. 22:7,
Revelation 22:7 7”Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Or a few verses later, as Jesus wraps up His final revelation:
Revelation 22:12 12”And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
A closer look at the word translated “quickly” tells us it is not about nearness in time but about suddenness, speed, swiftly.
ταχύς, εῖα, ύ pert. to a very brief period of time, with focus on speed of an activity or event; β. without delay, quickly
ταχινόςa, ή, όν; τάχιον: pertaining to a very short extent of time—’quickly, hurriedly, swift, speedy.’(DBL)
5035. ταχύ tachu, takh-oo´; neut. sing. of 5036 (as adv.); shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly
Christ’s coming will be SUDDEN. That is why the little girl’s point is pertinent: the only solution is to KEEP it CLEAN—all the time!
Habakkuk makes the same lesson:
Habakkuk 2:2–3 2Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.
Another version says “so that he may read it on the run.”
3For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries [seems to tarry], wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry [it will not be late].
The book of Hebrews quotes this verse, confirming the thought—and its importance (Heb. 10:37). God’s plan is right ON TIME. The vision is for an “appointed time” – fixed in God’s schedule book.
Our only option is to be READY ALL the time.