The message on being watchful is based on His caution to His followers that no one knows when all this is going to happen and because of that, they need to live as though it could happen at any moment.
“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come...you also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:42, 44).
Jesus gives the illustration of two women grinding grain and two men working in the fields. One will be suddenly taken and the other left. He also says that life will be going on as normal when the Lord returns. No one will be standing on a mountaintop dressed in white with one eye raised to heaven and the other on a watch counting down the seconds to D-Day. It will be business-as-usual.
So how do we go about our daily business-as-usual and still be prepared for the unexpected arrival of the Lord? The illustrations that Jesus uses throughout His discourse suggest that HOW one does this business-as-usual is a pretty good indicator of whether or not that person is prepared for the Lord’s return. In Matthew 24:45-51, the Lord talks about the faithful servant who spends his time doing what his master has instructed him to do. He carries out those instructions because he knows that his master could return at any moment and he wants to be sure to have everything ready. The other kind of servant, described here as “wicked” figures his master won’t turn up anytime soon so he neglects the instructions he was left with and wastes his time on his own interests.
We might wonder how the business-as-usual that puts food on our table and pays the mortgage fits with carrying out our Master’s instructions. How does being a teacher, a doctor, an accountant, a student, a construction worker, a miner, a truck driver, a housewife, fit?
The parable that Jesus told contains some interesting details. The faithful servant was making sure that the household under his care was provided for. The wicked servant abused those under his care and invested his time in his own pleasure. In these three items we find three powerful clues as to what constituted being “ready” for the Lord’s return. Each one has an application in the physical realm as well as in the spiritual realm.
The faithful servant looks after both the physical and spiritual needs of those under his care. He does not abuse those under his care either through physical or emotional abuse or by neglecting their spiritual well-being. The wise servant, unlike the wicked one, doesn’t waste his time in frivolous activities (or damaging ones) because he is busy making sure that he is working on all the things that the Master has assigned for him to do. The Scriptures are the operating manual for all things we need to be working on—character traits and ministry priorities.
The Lord is taking His time at returning. Therein lies the danger. We think that because it’s been more than two thousand years since his first appearance, that we have lots of time before the next one. But logically, we actually have LESS time, which only means we need to be even more careful to be ready by being busy at carrying out His instructions.
He's not going to give us twenty-four hours notice.