Are you familiar with the old fable about a time when Satan was training three apprentice devils? He asked the first one how he proposed to deceive people. ” I will tell them there is no God.” “That will never work,” Satan replied, “for everyone knows there is a God.” The second one volunteered that he would tell people there is no hell. “That won’t work either. Everyone knows there must be a hell.” Then the third apprentice devil spoke up. “I will tell them there is no hurry.” Satan smiled and said, “You will deceive millions. The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time. You are the only one ready to graduate.”
In contrast to the strategy in this story, Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that it was extremely critical that they understand the importance of being ready because He, the Son of Man, would be returning at a time when He was least expected. They needed to know what to expect after He returned to heaven. He made it quite clear through both His discourse and the parables that the destruction of the temple and the end of the age were both going to be a reality. While there was really no way these followers could grasp the many truths that Jesus was explaining to them, they needed to be mindful of His warnings and His passionate desire for them to “keep watch” and “be prepared”. He did not want them to be distracted by false teachers or prophets or be discouraged by the persecution and troubles in the world that would precede His return. He wanted them to be faithful and to be ready for His return, but in the meantime to be faithfully serving.
There is no doubt that Jesus wants us to hear and consider these very same words. As Peter reiterated in his second letter, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. . . so be on your guard.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)