Where is this supposed coming? The current expression of that goes much more cleverly, like this: “But every age has thought that Jesus was about to show up. Even Paul did—and he was wrong. Who knows when it could be; it might take another thousand years.” It sounds so reasonable ... except for the fact that this is the forbidden attitude. Yes, every age has thought that Christ would return any moment, and well they should. They were right to do so because “any moment” could have been their moment. They were right to have expected his return because they were commanded to by Christ himself. They were wise to do so because it is the antidote to so many harmful things; when the “wicked servant” embraces the posture that his master is still far off, he turns his heart toward the indulgences of this world, trying to slake his kingdom thirst with everything within reach.
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:1–13)
If this doesn’t stir in you that good old tonic called the Fear of the Lord, I don’t know what will. Half those waiting for it are “shut out” of the feast—and all that follows after. Now, I appreciate how forthright Jesus is on the matter. He admits in every story he tells that it looks like his coming is a long ways off; in this one he admits the bridegroom was a long time in coming(!). Jesus doesn’t dodge the matter. But he goes right on with the very same lesson: keep watch; look for his coming; be ready. Keep your lamps burning, even if he comes in the second or third watch.