Anticipating Christ’s Return – A Thorny Issue

Today’s post is the third in a series about expecting Christ’s return..

The Good Samaritan and the Sower and the Seed may be the most familiar parables Jesus shared. Both parables, I believe, are applicable to the question of whether or not I truly believe Jesus may return at any moment.

First, let’s consider the parable about the seed. The farmer and the seed are almost incidental to the story. The focus is on four types of soil. Each received seeds from the Sower. Every kernel came from the same container. Every seed had potential to produce fruit. The only difference was the condition of the soil. Only one soil produced fruit.

The third soil permitted the seeds to germinate. But tiny weed seeds in the soil also sprouted and grew among the good plants. Competing for nutrients they began to choke the good seed. The plants grew and produced leaves, but there were no kernels of grain at harvest.

So, what’s the point of this parable? What was the take-away for the listeners—for us? To ask that another way, what were these weeds that choked the plants?

Here’s Jesus’ answer: “And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:14–15, ESV)

Consider the phrase, “as they go on their way.” The struggle to be fruitful is part of everyday life. We may begin loving God’s Word and desiring to follow Jesus. We anticipate seeing Him and hearing His affirmation. But concerns began to distract us. That’s life. Trials become detours rather than opportunities for faith to grow deeply.

It’s the next two “weeds” in the parable that may challenge us most today: “riches and the pleasures of life.”

Both wealth and pleasure were meant to be enjoyed. Matthew quotes Jesus, “the deceitfulness of riches.” It’s as if wealth is a living organism—a weed seed—seeking to germinate and wage war against my soul and choke out my anticipation of Christ’s return. Distorting my priorities. Telling me, “It’s mine to enjoy; I earned it.” Justifying what I have by comparing my cache with others. A siren singing, “More!” A security blanket destined to become moth-eaten. Certainly, to be left behind when Jesus returns or I die.

Those are strong words meant to warn me and you about the deceitfulness of riches and the pursuit of pleasure in our pleasure-driven culture.

So, if I truly believe that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, it should be reflected by my bank account and my daily calendar.

Am I investing resources and time in things eternal? How do I spend discretionary money? Do I care that children are dying from filthy water or lack of food? In this hungry world, am I a sheep or a goat? A good Samaritan or a pre-occupied priest? A foolish farmer building bigger barns?

Those are severe questions, I know. But Jesus warned about letting weeds choking and rendering unfruitful. Choking may be subtle, but it is always lethal if ignored.

When I am choking in my affluence, I welcome anybody to wake me up with a spiritual Heimlich maneuver.

Choking may be subtle or gradual, but always lethal.

But, when I am choking in my affluence, I welcome anybody to wake me up with a spiritual Heimlich maneuver.

2 thoughts on “Anticipating Christ’s Return – A Thorny Issue

  1. ## Comment SPAM Protection: Shield Security marked this comment as “Pending Moderation”. Reason: Human SPAM filter found “ipad1” in “user_agent” ##
    Well said Syd, seems like the older we get the more we realize this is true. We or I get so caught up in the good life you don’t realize the journey is the most important element of living. And what did Jesus do? He washed his disciples feet and then said treat others like I have treated you. He gave everything but has
    d nothing.

  2. Mike, thanks for sharing your comments. I agree that as we age- that is hopefully mature- things this world offers begin to pale compared with the glorious anticipation of meeting the One who redeemed us with His great sacrifice.
    I wrote this post to remind myself that it is not my words, but actions, that prove what I truly believe. I want to invest in the only kingdom that will ultimately endure forever.
    Everything that we claim or value this side of life will be left behind when we depart. But we will be held accountable to the Master. I long to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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