'Take heed to yourselves, lest ...'

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“Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts become burdened by excessiveness and drunkenness and anxieties of life, and that Day comes on you unexpectedly. For as a snare it will come on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Therefore watch always and pray that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will happen and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36 (cf. Luke 21:25-36)

Jesus tells us what will happen before He suddenly appears, coming in clouds of glory to judge the living and the dead. He speaks of what would happen to Jerusalem and what would befall His disciples (Luke 21:5ff.; cf. Matt. 24:1ff.; Mark 13:1ff.); and then he speaks about what will take place immediately before His coming.

“There will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming on the inhabited earth. For the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:25-27).

He tells us that, “when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near” (v. 28). And He adds the parable of the fig tree: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are sprouting leaves already, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So in like manner, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (v. 29-31).

Jesus said (v. 32-33): “Truly, I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” And, indeed, these signs were already fulfilled in the first century after Christ. There were wars and commotions, false Christs and false prophets. Christians were betrayed and persecuted, and Jerusalem was destroyed for its impenitence and unbelief as Jesus had warned (cf. Luke 19:41-44).

And, Jesus warns us to “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts become burdened by excessiveness and drunkenness and anxieties of life, and that Day comes on you unexpectedly. For as a snare it will come on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Therefore watch always and pray that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will happen and to stand before the Son of Man” (v. 34-36).

Instead of living in drunkenness and excess, and being wrapped up with the cares of this life, we are to be watching and praying that we not be caught off guard and, like the rest of the world, be found living in sin and impenitence and not ready at Jesus’ return.

Rather, we are to live in continual repentance, confessing our sins and holding fast in faith to Jesus and His cross for pardon and forgiveness that we might be found ready to stand before Him when He appears.

The Bible tells us in Acts 3:19-21: “Therefore repent and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the One who previously was preached to you, Jesus Christ, whom the heavens must receive until the time of restoring what God spoke through all His holy prophets since the world began.”

If we are found acknowledging our sins — agreeing with God about our sinfulness — and looking to Jesus and His cross in faith for pardon and forgiveness, we will be ready on that day. Instead of being condemned, we will be given eternal life for Jesus’ sake (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2; Psalm 32:1-6; John 3:14-18). But, if we are found continuing on in our sinful ways, impenitent and unbelieving, that day will find us unprepared and bring upon us God’s wrath and judgment (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7-10; John 3:18; Mark 16:16).

O gracious and merciful Savior, grant that we continue in daily repentance and faith that we might be found ready on that day when You come to judge the living and the dead. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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