The long wait is almost over!

Matthew 3:1–12

It is possible, in my experience, to be both right and wrong at the same time.

You may not have had this experience if you are always right. I’m not talking about that one time when you thought you were wrong, but it turned out you were mistaken.

I was having regular meetings with a friend, and we would always meet in the same coffee shop. Then our situations changed and we didn’t meet for several months.

When we were able once more to match our schedules we agreed to meet again in the usual place. I turned up, ordered a coffee and sat down to wait. My friend is normally very punctual, so after waiting a quarter of an hour I knew something was wrong.

Since I knew I was in the usual place, I thought I had the wrong time. When I checked his message, it was the right time. I decided to call him.

He picked up and I said, ‘Where are you?’

He replied, ‘I’m in the usual place! The same place we met last time. Why?’

So I said, ‘That’s where I am, but I can’t see you.’

One of us was in the wr0ng ‘usual place’. He was in the usual place. I was in the usual place. But we weren’t in the same place. We couldn’t meet each other until I moved.

Waiting for my friend, I had time to think. I thought about how much I could trust him to keep his promise. I knew would keep his promise. I knew there was another reason that he wasn’t there. And it made me wonder, do we wait to meet God in the wrong place.

In chapter three of Matthew’s Gospel we have just read about John the Baptist waiting for the Messiah. John is out in the desert with his disciples. He is baptizing and preaching repentance to the crowds who come out from the towns. He tells them, ‘Someone is coming soon who … will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’.

That person is Jesus, but John doesn’t know yet that the Messiah is Jesus. John is waiting for the Messiah. But actually the Messiah has been there for 30 years already, living in Galilee, working as a carpenter.

They were both there but in different places. They could meet at any time.

Where are you? Are you in the usual place? Are you in the right place to meet Jesus?

The Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah. They had been waiting for a very long time, but when Jesus arrived the only ones to recognise him were a few poor sheep herders out on the hills and some foreigners from a far land.

Today we are waiting for Jesus to return. We are waiting for the second coming of the Messiah to bring heaven on earth. We are waiting for Jesus to come and establish God’s kingdom. We have been waiting for over two thousand years.

It can be a tiresome business waiting for someone. A lot of people will give up. Isaiah says, “Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

While we are waiting we need to trust in the Lord. If he says he is coming, we need to know that he really will come. If he isn’t here now, the reason is not that he lied to us. The reason is not that he found something more interesting to do.

He kept his promise to make a great nation of the offspring of Abraham. He kept his promise to send the Messiah. God has kept all his promises and he will keep his promise to send Jesus a second time. You can trust him and it will give you strength. You will soar high on wings like eagles. Wouldn’t you like to soar high, feel like you are flying through life. Well you can, by trusting God. In the New Testament’s 260 chapters, Christ’s return is mentioned no less than 318 times. Believe it!

What do we do while we are waiting? Do we sit dumbly in the coffee shop insisting that we are right and our friend will eventually walk in the door and say sorry for being late?

Do we wait five minutes and then leave because the promise has been broken? Many times this is what the Jewish people did. They built golden calves and worshiped idols. But it didn’t hasten the coming of the Messiah, it only caused them huge problems.

John the Baptist was preaching repentance in the desert to prepare people for the coming Messiah. Are you, like John, waiting to meet Jesus. Where is Jesus?

We have a promise of hope. Jesus is not far away. How should we wait?

The word ‘wait’ doesn’t mean idleness. It doesn’t mean just sitting around until God zaps you. There is a time to “Be still, and know that I am God!” as it says in Psalm 46. There are times amid the frenzy when we need to just be quiet and let God speak to us, meditate upon him, read his word, and pray to him. That’s not really what we mean.

Wait means to wait upon the Lord, something like a courtier waiting upon the Queen. It means to serve him, tend to him, help him. I wait upon the Lord. My total attention is given to him. He is my focus. I am his servant.

First, we are to be watching for him. ‘The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded’ (Luke 12:37). Don’t get caught up in the things that dominate the minds and hearts of non-believers, such as what to eat, drink and wear. Instead, be consumed with your pursuit of the kingdom of God. Seek, above all, the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in your lives.

Second, be ready to go. Let me ask you this: If Christ came back today, are ready to go with him? Would a place where you’re about to go to, or a thing you’re about to do, cause you to be ashamed or embarrassed in any way? If so, then you need to change what you’re doing. If you are not living in a way that is pleasing to him right now, then his return will come as a great shock and surprise to you.

Third, we should want to become more like Jesus Christ each day. According to 2 Peter 3:11-14, “What holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. … Dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.” If you have a real sense of his imminent return, then it will impact the way you live and will cause you to purify yourself, even as he is pure (1 John 3:3).

Fourth, we should ‘anxiously’ await his return. Have you ever been looking forward to seeing someone? You wait for the sound of that person’s footsteps. You pull the door open before they can knock. That’s what it means to anxiously await someone’s arrival. If anything would cause us hesitancy in saying ‘Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!’ then we need to carefully examine our lives.

Finally, we should be working (Luke 12:43). While watching is the evidence of faith, working is the evidence of faith in action. Watching for the Lord’s return will help us prepare our own lives, but working will assure that we will take others with us.

Let’s go back to John the Baptist and see how he was waiting. John was full of action as he waited for the Messiah. He was a dynamo. He was a nuclear power station.

As we wait for Jesus we need to be more like John. Jesus is not far away, and may appear at any moment. Christ lives in all of us. Our time of waiting is when we should be active in telling others about the free gift of salvation. That is the kind of waiting we are called to.

We are told to trust and let the power of God flood us. We are told to soar like eagles and teach others to soar, by trusting in the Lord. When we are waiting like this, one day the Holy Spirit will whisper to us and when we look up we shall see Jesus. He is coming soon, and we need to be busy waiting. As Romans 1:5 says: ‘He has graced us and sanctioned us as his emissaries, whose mission is to spread the one true and obedient faith to all people in the name of Jesus. This includes you: you have been called by Jesus, God’s Anointed.’

Amen 아멘

About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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