DUNCAN/Don’t be misled, my coming will be unmistakable
Please turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 24:23-31. According to the Lord Jesus it is vital that we as Christians watch for His coming and that we are ready for His coming. Therefore, a logical question to enter into our minds is, "how does one go about watching for His coming?” Much of what Jesus teaches in Matthew 24 and 25 is in answer just to those kinds of practical questions. In fact, we are going to see that it's vital for our Christian living not only that we are watchful for the coming of Christ, but also that we know how to be watchful. And in the passage today we are going to see two things. First, that Christians must be on guard against false messiahs or prophets. Second, that Christians must take note of Jesus’ teaching about His coming.
I. Christians Must be on Guard Against False Messiahs/Prophets
First if I could turn your attention to verses 24-26, these words here are warnings to the disciples about deception. And we learn here that all Christians must be on guard against false messiahs and false prophets. Look at verse 24. Jesus says here to the disciples that false prophets will come. And He not only says that they will come, He says that they are going to do miracles. Jesus doesn't even qualify this by saying that they are going to be false miracles. He says, "false prophets will come and do signs and wonders. But don't be deceived by them." Jesus is saying even their miracles are not to be believed if they are against My word. What a profound assertion that is. At the end of verse 24 there is a very interesting saying. He says, "False christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, of possible, even the elect." First, is Jesus’ assurance that it is not possible for His people to be snatched out of His hand. And secondly, there is His stern warning to His people that they be on guard and not be deceived or misled. Jesus puts those 2 things side by side and doesn't apologize or qualify either of them.
It is absolutely true that His people cannot be lost. It is also absolutely true that His people must be on guard against deception. How do you put those two things together? We can say that though it is true that God will not allow His people to fail to persevere, it is also true that the instrument – or that one of the instruments – that He uses by the work of the Holy Spirit to enable His people to persevere, is their diligence and watchfulness. That is the way that God determines to carry out His plan and decree, is through the use of means. And one of the means that He uses is our diligence.
II. Christians Must Take Note of Jesus’ Teaching about His Coming
Then in verses 27-31, He goes on to speak of His second coming. And we learn here that Christians must take note of Jesus' teaching about His coming. If we're to be watchful for His coming, then we need to know what Jesus says about His coming, and we must begin to cultivate biblical desires and affections for His coming. In verse 27 He says, in contrast to the false prophets and false messiahs, of verse 26, who say that the coming is going to be secret, notice they say, "we need to go out into the wilderness because the messiah is there." Jesus says, "no, no, no." And they say "well we need to go into this inner room because the messiah is there." And Jesus says, "no, no, no." Why? Because Jesus says, it is impossible that the Messiah can come and you not know it. So, if somebody has to come to you and say, "You missed it. The messiah is out in the wilderness." He's wrong. Because, why? Verses 27 and 28 tell you.
There are two illustrations that Jesus gives. First His coming is going to be like lightening. Have you ever watched a thunderstorm pass through on a summer evening in Mississippi? You can't miss the lightening. The lightning is obvious. Then He gives another illustration, an earthy illustration. Many of us, if you have driven down a country road have seen the vultures circling over things that have been left behind, which we will not go into a description of. And the Lord Jesus says that even as the vultures gather around carcasses so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. In other words, just like the vultures don't miss it when there is flesh on the road, and just like you can't mistake the fact that they're there circling for their prey, so also the coming of the Son of Man will be. In other words, it's obvious. It can't be missed. The vultures could not possibly miss their opportunity for a feast. So also, you could not possibly miss the coming of the son of man. And so, this is another direct indication of the unmistakable character of Jesus coming.
Notice in verses 29 and 30, these incredible things which accompany the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and just add again to the fact that His coming will be unmistakable. He tells us in verse 29 that when He comes the sun will be dark, and the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Now these very descriptions are mind bending. You can't even begin to imagine what this means for the whole cosmos.
And in verse 31, we are told that the coming of the Son of Man will result in joy and triumph for all those who trust in Him because they are going to be gathered by the angels. And so all those who are God's children will be gathered to Christ. And this is another word of assurance in a time of cataclysm and a time of crises God's people can be confident and secure because the Lord Jesus will send His ministering angels to gather up all His people.
Now Christians must look for and long for that coming in accordance with Christ’s word. I wonder if we think more about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ than we think about our own deaths. As we get older, and as we begin to think about death in general and in particular in our own experience, I wonder if that's true of us, that we think more about His coming than about death. This coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is something that God calls upon us to cultivate in our hearts, an affection for, a desire for. May God help us to desire this second coming more with each day.