“The end is near.”
So what else is new? Christians have been saying it for literally centuries. In the days of John, Peter, and Paul, the end of time was at hand. Some were so convinced of its imminence that they moved into caves in the mountains, each day looking to the sky to see if it would be split by the Son of God returning. And everyday the sun went down; and every day the sun comes up again.
And every day since then, the end has been near. It’s nearer now than it was yesterday, and tomorrow (if indeed there is one) it will be nearer still. Could be today. Could be tomorrow. Could be Friday, or it could be another thousand years. We don’t know. And that’s sort of the point.
Because we, like the apostles and faithful saints before us, don’t know what day Jesus is coming back, we are to live with a sense of anticipation. We are like my 3-year-old son who knows his birthday is coming soon, but just doesn’t know exactly when.
That’s the state Christian (the 3-year-old in question) is living in. He knows his birthday is in January. He knows it’s pretty close to Christmas. But he can’t look at the calendar and know exactly when it is. He usually forgets the number “5” when he’s counting for crying out loud. The son doesn’t know, so every morning he goes to the father and asks, “Is today the day?”
And everyday right now the father responds the same way. He smiles, pulls his boy into his arms, and says, “Not today son. But soon.”
So he lives with anticipation, ready at a moment’s notice to drop everything when “today” finally becomes “the day.” And that’s a bit like how we are supposed to live. We are, in a sense, like the children who can’t be bothered with the finer points of calendaring but know something big and great and awesome is coming. So while we don’t know the calendar, we know the Father who knows the calendar, so we go and ask:
“Is today the day?”
But consider this: We aren’t the only children who don’t know the day. Our big brother doesn’t know when it is either.
Matthew 24 is replete with the words of Jesus regarding the last days. There are warnings, exhortations, and parables about the end and the new beginning. There are instructions about what we are to do in the meantime, but there is also the clear statement that we don’t know when Jesus is coming back. In fact, He doesn’t even know:
“Now concerning the day and hour no on knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son—except the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
Is it too much to think that all the excitement and anticipation that we might have for this great coming is dwarfed by that of Jesus Himself? What an amazing thought – to consider that even now Jesus lives with a sense of anticipation. And His excitement puts ours to shame. That He, too, is waiting on baited breath for the word “Go” from the Father.
Maybe, just maybe, in another realm, in some way you and I can’t fully understand, that this Son went to that Father and asked the same question: “Is today the day?”
Maybe today the answer is yes.