“Jesus is coming back soon!” my friend said as tears swelled up in her eyes like they always did when she got into this topic. “We need to be ready!”
It’s hard to know how to react. After all, Christians have been saying this exact thing for two thousand years, and while I hate to say it, they’ve been wrong every single time. How many times in my own short life have pastors and churches advertised that this year is the year? How many times have total randos suddenly gone viral because they supposedly cracked some Biblical code that determines the official day (typically by means that sound more like witchcraft and numerology than the Bible)? And again, how many times have they been wrong?
Every. Single. Time.
The thing is that they’re Biblically correct. After all, both Jesus and the Bible writers did in fact say that Jesus would be back soon, while also simultaneously claiming that no one knew exactly when. And for that reason, it’s technically Biblically appropriate to join my friend in saying, “Jesus is coming back and we need to be ready!”—so long as we don’t think we’ve somehow one-upped Jesus by determining the specific day and time, even though he himself could not do so.
Even saying “We’re in the end times!” is Biblically correct since we’ve now lived in them for two thousand years—for the “end times” is just the remaining portion of this age following Jesus’ ascension, and the new-heaven-new-earth-resurrection age to come. Jesus has already won and we are therefore in the final moments of this part of this age/story—the end times. However, this “ending” is wrapping up much slower than we might have thought, causing spiritual time to feel as though it has almost come to a pause.
Despite not knowing when he’d return, it seems Jesus predicted this debacle of slowness and so he told a parable to illustrate it. In this story, he is a bridegroom and he’s on his way to meet the wedding party, but he’s running late. However, he’s texted ahead about his delay and it’s clear that when he shows up, the party is going to start whether everyone is there or not. And if anyone is missing or not ready to go when he gets there, they’ll miss the party altogether—for they won’t be allowed in once it’s started. Therefore, all these statements ring true: this is the end times and Jesus is coming back and we have to be ready. This truth has reigned true for two thousand years, and it may still be truth for another two thousand.
My friend’s tears will not be in vain. Because someone is always saying it, someone will eventually be right.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Matthew 25:1-13 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net.