Palm Sunday Message: Lead Me to the Cross…Follow the Donkey…Find the Cross!
Are you prepared?
John Wooden, a legend coach of the UCLA Bruins, would tell his team, “What opportunity strikes, it’s too late to prepare.” This statement motivated his team to put in the work, hone their skills, and understand the strategy of the game. Why? Because when the opportunity or need for a certain play, a clutch basket, or a defensive stand came to win a game or a championship, it was too late to stop and practice. Preparation had to happen before the reality came.
In Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus spends a good part of Tuesday of Holy Week instructing his disciples on how to be ready for his return. While there will be signs that the end is near (ones we see regularly even today), the specific day and hour is unknown. Here’s what Jesus said to watch for:
Matthew 25:4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
We like to procrastinate. It may feel good in the moment to put off something, especially if you don’t want to do it. However, I am learning that you never know what is going to happen, even if you know a deadline, so better to get the project done as soon as possible…and don’t procrastinate.
Jesus teaches on the end of times to remind us to always be ready. He doesn’t want his return to catch us unprepared.
Matthew 25:42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
So how do we prepare? We stay close and regularly connected to Jesus. Take to heart the words of Jesus. And put into practice the work of Jesus.
Like a student who regularly does his homework and reads the material assigned, there is no anxiety when the teacher decides to give a surprise quiz, so the believer who trusts in Jesus as Savior, regularly reads the words God has given to us, and puts into practice the love of Jesus…he/she has nothing to fear when Jesus returns. In fact that day will be one we anticipate and look forward to rather than dread and worry about.
Luke 21:25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Apply: Take time to read Matthew 24 & 25. What do you see happening today? Is it possible Jesus could return today? Are you ready? What commitments can you make to yourself and Jesus to be better prepared for the day of his return?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for encouraging us and teaching us about what it means to be prepared for your return. Help us to stay close to you, regularly take in your Word, and be about your work while we wait. AMEN.