Matthew 24:36-44

It was dark outside and, apart from the odd star in the sky, there was no other light. But then Barry liked living in the country, away from the street lights and all the traffic noise. That’s why he’d come to live there in the first place. He also liked walking in the cool of the night. He found it very refreshing and didn’t feel a little bit unsafe.

When all of a sudden there was a loud whizz, followed by a big flash and then a bang.

Well, Barry jumped out of his skin, and it seemed to be forever before his feet came back to the ground. But no longer was he firmly on the ground, then there was another loud whizz, followed by another bright flash and followed by another loud bang.

Barry was a country boy at heart, and he wasn’t usually jumpy or easily frightened. But even he had to confess that whatever it was that had made that noise and had flashed had given him quite a start. And for the next few moments he just stood there, collecting himself.

But no sooner had he done so, when there was another whizz, followed by another flash, followed by another bang.

Something was going on. And Barry wasn’t sure that it was something he needed to be frightened about at all.

Then he thought and thought, and as he thought something clicked in Barry’s mind. He’d seen a poster in the village square . . . there was to be a fireworks night, and it was going to be on the adjoining property. He’d forgotten. Otherwise, he would have been more prepared.

“How silly am I?” he thought. “How easily I have forgotten.” And he reprimanded himself, for forgetting, and not being prepared.

But there and then Barry decided he would go and watch. He’d had his surprises for one night. At least he could go and enjoy the show. And so he did. And after that Barry didn’t jump anywhere near as much as he’d done before. Indeed, he wasn’t so surprised with all the whizzes, flashes, and bangs.

Yes, sometimes he would jump—just a little—when he wasn’t expecting it. But he was generally able to stand there and enjoy the show.

At the end of the evening, when the fireworks were over, and things had quietened down, it was time to wander off home. And as he walked, he whistled happily to himself, enjoying the blackness of the almost starless night.

That is, until all of a sudden there was a loud bang, and Barry nearly jumped out of his skin. But as the car that had backfired passed him, even Barry had to smile.

“That told me,” he said to himself. “You can never really prepare for all surprises.”


Now, of course, the message of this story is that in life we all face surprises. Some pleasant, some not so pleasant, and some which can make us jump out of our skin. And some, no matter how much we prepare for them, which will take us unaware.

And that is why Jesus taught us to prepare for the biggest surprise of all—the day that he comes again to judge the world. Because it will come suddenly, when we least expect it, and he doesn’t want his friends to be unprepared at all.

Indeed, we wants us to be prepared for the day when every single person who has ever lived will come face to face with him and to answer for everything that they’ve done and not done.

And if that sounds a little scary. Then it probably is. Except for if we are prepared—if we are Jesus’s people—then there really is nothing to be scared about at all.

So if it’s matter of being prepared or unprepared for Jesus’s second coming I know which of the two I would choose. I just hope that it is the same for you too.

Posted: 26th September 2020
© 2020, Brian A Curtis