Speaking to the Soul – September 8

The promise of Jesus’ return

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the autumn and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. James 5:7-8

After Jesus’ ascension, his disciples were assured that he would return. The messengers said: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but some day he will return in the same way you saw him go” (Acts 1:11). In the early Church, there was a widespread belief that it was going to happen in their lifetime. However, Jesus had made it clear that the timings were entirely in his Father’s hands. Even Jesus didn’t know when he was going to return!

We continue to live between the first and second coming of Jesus. So the 21st-century Church has much in common with first-century Christians. We are still waiting, and because the Lord might return at any time we need to be prepared.

James used the illustration of the farmer to stress the need for patience. Much of the time, farmers are waiting and hoping. They might be tempted to dig up their seeds every now and again to see how they are getting on, but they know that wouldn’t help! They simply prepare the soil, plant and water the seeds and wait for the crop to grow.

If you have been to Israel, you will know that their irrigation methods are phenomenal. After driving through arid landscapes, you suddenly see bright green fields of crops. It really is amazing. However, that was not the case in James’ day. The farmer lived at the mercy of the rains and, typically, the first rain would happen soon after sowing. Latter rains would occur when the crop was ripening. All they could do in between was wait.

No one finds waiting easy. But the waiting we are called to do is not a boring, inactive form of waiting. It is active. We are called to be continually watchful. Just like the bridesmaids in Jesus’ parable, we need to ensure we are ready for the moment of his return. We dare not be asleep and be unprepared when that time comes. As Jesus said: “You too must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return” (Matthew 25:13).

How much does the promise of Jesus’ return affect your life?

Loving God, thank you that history is in your hands. Help me to be patient and always ready for Jesus’ return. Amen