36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:36-51
Like John at the last meal the disciples shared with Jesus, I recline near Jesus and soak in the moments we share here atop the Mount of Olives. Jesus’ focus remains on his return and on our being ready. I look around at the four disciples – Peter, James, John and Andrew – and wonder if my face shows the same rapt devotion theirs do.
I can tell by looking at them that they don’t want to miss a moment. That they want to be ready. Ready for whenever these events come to pass. So they listen without interrupting. They ask no questions. And I marvel at their restraint.
Because I have so many questions. Too many questions. Questions I wish Jesus would answer. Because this is important. He is telling us about the ruin of Jerusalem and the impending darkness and the tribulations that will come right before he does.
This is important. And a little frightening. And a lot overwhelming.
I want to know, where will I be? Will I be ready? Am I prepared?
Does Jesus think I’m ready? Do I?
I think about this. I consider his words.
Is my ark ready or am I too busy eating and drinking and chasing the things of this world?
Am I ready or have I become unaware? So much so that I will be washed away in the flood. Or that the thief will come and will break into my house.
I cannot hold back my questions or my fears. I know that Jesus can sense them. I know that he can see them when he looks in my eyes. When he looks at me, I look away, embarrassed for him to see me naked in my doubt, in my guilt, in my shame.
But this is Jesus. And these are the very reasons he sits here right now. To remove doubt. To erase guilt. To eradicate shame.
Jesus, dear Jesus. Here to provide freedom. Come to offer grace.
Jesus, dear, sweet Jesus, Am I ready?
This is the question my heart asks him. With trepidation my heart implores him, Will I be taken? Will I be left?
What my heart is really asking is, Please. Please say the words I long to hear. Please.
Because it’s not really about being left behind. Jesus already knows that. It’s about whether I’ve done all I was given to do. It’s about whether I’ve truly loved God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, with all my strength. It’s about whether I’ve loved my neighbor as myself.
Or have I loved myself too much?
Jesus, dear, sweet Jesus. I want to hear those words, the ones from your Word. I want to hear you say, Well done, good and faithful servant.
And as I consider how I live, that is when the doubt, the guilt, the shame build.
But this is Jesus.
He has seen it all. He has seen betrayal and hatred, and suffering that I cannot begin to imagine. He has seen the darkness devour and the goodness recoil. But he has also seen the beauty one person creates push back the very same darkness. And he has heard a lone voice speak love, speak truth, speak life and provide hope.
And as I consider how I live, I implore him, Let me be that one person. Let me be that lone voice.
This journey with Jesus is changing me. It is changing my focus. It is changing what I thought I wanted. It is breaking my heart, refining me with fire and purifying me by his love.
When the time comes, I want to be ready. I want to have left nothing behind that was given me to do. I want to have changed the world because Jesus changed me. I want to change the world with Jesus.
Here, on the Mount of Olives, I lean into Jesus. I lay my head on his shoulder and know that I am loved.
And I am ready.