by: Bill Bratt

Email: info@icogsfg.org

One question that every Christian would like to have an answer to is: When will Jesus Christ return? Jesusí disciples asked Him the question shortly after His crucifixion and resurrection: "Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" {7} And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. {8} "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:6.)

Notice Jesusí answer in verse 7. Jesus gave the same answer in other scriptures. Matthew recorded Jesus as saying: "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36. See also Matthew 25:13.)

Now even though Jesus doesnít know the day or the hour, He gave us a parable of the fig tree as a clue: "Then He spoke to them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. {30} "When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. {31} "So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. {32} "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. {33} "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. {34} "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. {35} "For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. {36} "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:29-36.)

Notice Jesusí instruction in verse 36 is to "watch." The question becomes: What are we to watch?

Jesus gives us more of the answer at the most crucial time in His life, after His last Passover service He observed with His disciples, in the hours just before He was beaten and then crucified for all of our sins - the disciples fell asleep. Letís look at what happened: "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." {37} And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. {38} Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." {39} He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." {40} Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? {41} "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." {42} Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." {43} And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. {44} So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. {45} Then He came to His disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. {46} "Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand"" (Matthew 26:36-46).

Notice that in verses 38 and 40 Jesus admonished His disciples to "watch." What were they to watch? In verse 41 Jesus told them to: "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation."

The lesson that Jesus was giving His disciples was that they were to watch their spiritual condition. Prayer is a "spiritual must" in drawing close to God and resisting the temptations of Satan the Devil (James 4:7-8). We need to study Godís word, the Bible, to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Godís word and law is like a spiritual mirror that displays the right way to live (Matthew 4:4 and Exodus 20).

Letís look at another passage in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus warned His disciples to watch: "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. {38} "And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. {39} "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. {40} "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect"" (Luke 12:31-40).

Jesus told His disciples to be prepared for His return and the coming of the "kingdom of God." The lesson we need to learn from this is that doing Godís will consistently and without interruption is the best preparation for Jesusí return.

We are to "watch" for His return. The second coming of Jesus Christ will take most of the people in this world by complete surprise. But those who are called by God (John 6:44), who have repented (Mark 1:15) and are converted need not be caught unaware, if we are watching the signs in the world around us. (Remember the parable of the fig tree.) Watch world events and be aware of the signs of the times. Study your Bible and learn about prophecy.

In Conclusion: To watch is to be alert, awake, on guard, attentive and vigilant. Jesus admonished His disciples to be watchful: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36). The lesson that Jesus wants us to learn is to watch and be prepared so that when He returns, we will be ready and we can rule with Him in the kingdom of God and be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Watch world events and watch your spiritual condition.