By Jason Bowman
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert” Mark 13:32-33
In these gospel verses, Jesus says something so profound, it might be easy to miss, and yet so enigmatic it risks leaving us simply scratching our heads. According to Jesus, no one knows when the Son will return … not even the Son. What a strange and shocking idea. Despite being the Son of God, he still does not know the time of his own return. Since that knowledge rests solely with the Father, we know with absolute certainty that no human being knows when Christ will come back. Jesus goes on to say, “do not let him (Jesus) find you sleeping” when he returns (Mark 13:34). We would be wise to give this exhortation the weight and urgency it deserves.
What do we gain in being mindful of Christ’s return?
According to the gospels, there are at least three reasons to remain mindful. First, so that we are not deceived. People are going to claim to know details about the end times — details that even Jesus did not reveal. Furthermore, some people are even going to claim to be the Messiah. When we are vigilante in waiting for Christ according to his teaching, we will not easily be deceived by these people. Second, when we are mindful that Christ is coming back to redeem all things and bring about a new heavens and new earth, we are less likely to give into defeatism and gloom that drowns itself in sinful behaviors to find relief. Instead, we have hope because there is a better life coming when we will be with God for eternity. Finally, when Jesus returns, he is more likely to find us living faithfully for him each day if we are regularly mindful that he really is coming back.
The Advent season begins in a little over two weeks. There is no better time to renew our focus upon the return of Jesus than Advent. In this season we are called to remember and anticipate both his first coming and his second coming. So, as we prepare our hearts for Advent, I want to encourage each of us to practice mindfulness about the return of Christ.
It is easy to move through life going from one task to another. So many of us are just so busy. To practice mindfulness will require being intentional. Consider the following:
When you pray, take a moment to remember that Christ is still coming back and thank him for coming back.
As you look at the falling leaves and the coming winter that reminds us how life passes away, take time to remember the eternal life that is coming when Christ returns. This life is not all there is.
Read through Mark 13 and reflect upon the words of Jesus as he talks about his return.