“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts are overcharged with surfeiting, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come upon you unexpectedly. For as a snare, it shall come on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Therefore, be watchful all the time, praying that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:34-36 (Read Luke 21:5-36)
Jesus tells us in Luke 21 what will happen before His second advent, in clouds of glory, to judge the living and the dead. He speaks of what would happen to Jerusalem and the temple and what would befall His disciples (Luke 21:5ff.; cf. Matt. 24:1ff.; Mark 13:1ff.); and He then speaks about what will take place immediately before He comes.
“And there shall be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves. Men’s hearts will fail them for fear and for apprehension of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then they shall see ‘the Son of man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory” (Luke 21:25-27).
He tells us: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near” (v. 28).
And He adds the parable of the fig tree: “Behold the fig-tree and all the trees. When they now shoot forth, you see and know of your own selves that summer is now near at hand. So likewise, when you see these things come to pass, you know that the kingdom of God is near at hand” (v. 29-31).
Jesus said (v. 32-33): “Truly I say to you, this generation shall not pass away until all is fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.”
Indeed, these signs were already fulfilled in the first century. There were “wars and commotions,” false Christs and false prophets. Christians were betrayed and persecuted, and Jerusalem was destroyed for its impenitence and unbelief, as Jesus had warned (cf. Luke 19:41-44).
And Jesus also warns us to “take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts are overcharged with surfeiting, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come upon you unexpectedly. For as a snare, it shall come on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Therefore, be watchful all the time, praying that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:34-36).
Instead of being weighed down and overindulging in food, drink, or in the cares and concerns of this life, we are to be watching and praying that we not be caught off guard and, like the rest of the world, be found living in sin and impenitence and not ready at Jesus’ return.
Rather, we are to live in continual repentance, confessing our sins and holding fast in faith to Jesus and His cross for pardon and forgiveness so that we might be found ready to stand before Him when He appears.
The Bible tells us in Acts 3:19-21: “Therefore, repent and be converted so that your sins may be blotted out, and that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus Christ, who before was preached to you, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
If we are found on that day continuing on in our sinful ways, impenitent and unbelieving, that day will find us unprepared and bring upon us God’s wrath and judgment. We will be condemned to the eternal torments of hell!
God’s Word says that “the Lord Jesus [will be] revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he comes to be glorified in his saints and to be admired by all those who believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. …” (2 Thess. 1:7-10).
But If we are found acknowledging our sins — agreeing with God about our sinfulness — and looking to Jesus and His cross in faith for pardon and forgiveness, we will be ready on that day. Instead of being condemned, we will be pardoned, forgiven and given eternal life for Jesus’ sake (cf. John 5:24).
God’s Word tells us in 1 John, chapters 1 and 2: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you so that you do not sin. And if any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:8 – 2:2).
Jesus said (in John 3:14-18): “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him, should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him may be saved. He who believes in him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.”
God grant that, on that day, we not be found living in disobedience and sin but in the true and saving faith, acknowledging our sins and failures but trusting in the shed blood of Christ Jesus for pardon, forgiveness, and life everlasting. God grant this to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
O gracious and merciful Savior, grant that we continue in daily repentance and faith that we might be found ready on that day when You come to judge the living and the dead. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version of the Bible.]