Matthew 24:36-44 – The Necessity of Watchfulness


Matthew 24:36-44


The disciple community is cautioned about useless speculation about the signs or the timing of the coming of the Son of Man. Rather they are to be awake and ready at all times as they await his coming, for the coming will be at an unexpected hour that only the Father in heaven knows.


Jesus cautions the disciple community about useless speculation about the timing of “that day” when the Son of Man will come. “No one knows” the timing of that event except the Father. The point is underscored by the use of two illustrations. The day will come as a total surprise, just as the flood was for Noah and his family. The second illustration with its reference to one person “taken” in the field or one woman “taken” while grinding meal (the word is often translated as “rapture”) has been the occasion for much speculative literature and Christian imagination about the end times. But we need not to miss their simple point: the surprising timing of the coming, which “no one knows,” and Jesus’ call for wakeful readiness for a coming that will be as surprising as the coming of a thief in the night.