They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11
Years ago, the government’s first high altitude balloon was launched from Wallops Island, Virginia. Residents in the area were given no advanced warning. Looking to the light that was suddenly showing up in the sky, everybody had a theory as to what they were seeing. Some thought the Martians were invading; others thought the Russians had arrived. As the light grew brighter one lady opined: "Perhaps it's Jesus coming back." "Oh, no," said her neighbor. "I sure hope He doesn't come to my house first.”
Praying for a postponement to Jesus’ return is one way to deal with the unknown time of His arrival. There is, I believe, a better way. No, I’m not suggesting that you climb to a mountaintop or sell everything you’ve got and go sit in a church until Jesus arrives—far better to live your life in a perpetual state of readiness. In the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi was asked what he would do if he knew Jesus was going to return. He said he would keep on watering his garden. A few hundred years later, the great reformer Martin Luther was asked the same question. He said, "If I knew Jesus was coming tomorrow, I would plant a tree today." Three centuries after Luther, John Wesley’s reply was, "I would spend my last day exactly as I expect to spend it now."
For these individuals, Jesus gave them no concern or fear. On the contrary, seeing their Savior face-to-face was a cause of joy and jubilation. The truth is, Jesus is coming back. He who gave His life as a ransom for all who would believe on Him; He who fulfilled His word about the Day of Judgment, will return.
Will you be ready for that time-ending moment or will you end up saying, “I hope He doesn’t come to my house first”? Today Jesus is ready to forgive the most sad and scandalous of sins. Today He is ready to welcome into the family of faith all who will believe and are baptized. But the time for faith, the days in which you can be brought into the Savior’s household, are not unlimited. Listen to Jesus who says, "… keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour" (Matthew 25:13).
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on May 23, 2004