First Sunday of Advent 1.12.13 Matthew 24.36-44

24 11 2013

No-one Knows

The theme of radical uncertainty is with us again. This is why we need faith.

N.B. You really need to read the whole chapter to get a sense of how these verses fit in Jesus’ apocalyptic message

Matthew 24.36-44

Jesus said, ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What does this passage tell you about time?
  2. Why does Jesus use the phrase ‘Son of Man’ here, rather than, say ‘the Lord of the Universe’?
  3. How would life be different if we did know when ‘that day’ is going to come?

Heart Questions

  1. How do you imagine Jesus delivering this speech? Is he calm or agitated? Sitting or standing? Still or on the move?
  2. How do his hearers feel as he unfolds this great uncertainty?
  3. How do you feel reading this?

Hand Questions

  1. Compare this passage with the verses immediately prior to it. What is Jesus saying about what human beings can know?
  2. Would an observer describe you as ‘ready’?
  3. What do you need to do to become ready?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.

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