…or, “So what do you expect?”

“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
(Luke 12:40 NIV)

I don’t like to take verses out of context. You can usually understand the meaning better if you read a passage within the context of the verses around it, and/or the whole chapter, and/or, in my humble opinion, the whole Bible. However, this verse is so clear and so universal in its application that I think we can look at it in and of itself.

I was reading in Luke 12 the other day, and this verse hit me over the head. We’ve all read it many times, I’m sure, and we think we know what it means. The Son of Man will come (…his second coming…) when we do not expect him to come. That theme is found in both the Old and the New Testaments.

But when is that?

Don’t different people, i.e., different eschatological systems, have different expectations? If I have premillennial beliefs that the Lord’s second coming would come at the end of the most terrible tribulation in the history of the world, then I wouldn’t be expecting him to return during a time of worldwide peace and harmony. And if I have Amillennial beliefs, then I wouldn’t expect the Lord to return during a time of great tribulation, but instead when people have learned to live with each other peacefully. Our expectations are different.

Except…the verse says the Lord will return when we do not expect him to come.

I don’t know if that means nobody will be expecting him at that time. I suspect that because He tells us to be alert and read the signs of the times, that we, his people, will have an idea that he may be coming soon and we need to be ready, though we will not know the time for sure.

The context of this discourse appears to be that he’s speaking to his disciples, but among a very large crowd of people. The very next verse has Peter asking the Lord, “Are you saying this to everybody or just to us?” The Lord doesn’t answer his question directly.

So, the Lord will return when we do not expect. Is that clear? I had a teacher once who would ask the class, “Is that clear as mud?”

I think it means that we should be living as though he could return the next instant. What kind of lives should we than be leading?