Turn to Luke 21:25-38 as we continue to make our way through a passage in which Jesus has been addressing His disciples about future events. There is a criticism of the Christian teaching on the end times that goes something like this. Because the Bible teaches that Jesus is coming again and that this earth will pass away, this keeps Christians from being involved in this world. Jesus’ teaching shows that that criticism misunderstands what the Bible's teaching on the last things is for. Jesus’ teaching about the last things is designed to equip us for today, and He shows us this specifically in this passage in several ways. Let me just give you four words as we work through the passage together: confidence, trust, watch, and pray.

I. Confidence in the Lord’s Coming

The first thing that we learn is that the believer is to face these things with confidence. Look at the cataclysmic words that Jesus uses in this passage. “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming in the world.” Does that sound familiar? Just turn on the evening news. There is a fear and foreboding that pervades our culture. And Jesus says that, in the face of these dramatic and even cataclysmic things, believers are to be confident. Listen to how He speaks about this: “When you see these things take place, straighten up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near.”

 Because of Christ, what should terrify the world should actually comfort believers. Jesus says, “Remember, when you see these great trials and tribulations, your response is not trembling, because, when I come, all the things that you have waited for will be yours.” If, by grace, you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as He is offered in the Gospel, His coming is the best possible news that you could ever experience in this sin-sick world. And so Jesus is saying, “Have confidence!” Even with these awesome signs, the believer ought to respond in confidence.

II. Trust in the Lord’s Coming

He goes on and emphasizes that we need to be prepared in trust for His coming. You’ll see this in two statements that He makes in the passage. Look at verse 27. After these great signs that He describes in verses 25 and 26, He says, “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” That is a reference to Daniel 9:13. The Son of Man, who appears before the Ancient of Days in that passage, is given a kingdom that will not end. And this is an indication of Jesus’ deity here. “One coming on clouds with power and glory” is a picture of God in the Old Testament, so this is an emphatic indication of Jesus to His disciples that He is God. And He's saying this to evoke in His disciples trust in His Word and worship of His person.

And then look down at verse 32. “This generation will not pass away until all has taken place.” Then verse 33, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away.” Now that is absolutely stunning. Jesus is saying, “Creation itself is impermanent, but My words are everlasting; they will never go away.” Any believer familiar with his Hebrew Bible will immediately think of Isaiah 40:6-8, especially verse 8. “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.” He is saying that His words are more permanent than creation itself. He's saying to His disciples, “You can bank on My words. They are of enduring value and they are of a tested truth. Believe what I am saying to you. Don't be discouraged by the words of skepticism that you hear from those who do not believe My words.” Only God in the flesh could say these things, and He says these things so that we might face His coming trustingly.

II. Watch Yourself until the Lord’s Coming

Then he gives us the instruction to watch. Look at verse 34. “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the cares of this life and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” What is remarkable to me is who Jesus is saying these words to. He's not saying this to rebuke the Pharisees or to a bunch of unrepentant sinners. He's saying it to His own disciples. And if John needed to hear that, if Peter needed to hear that, if James needed to hear that, we need to hear that loud and clear.

 He's talking about self-watchfulness, watching your own heart so that you’re not caught up with the way that this world lives. And He's talking about making sure that the focus of our lives is not taken up with the cares of this world as if there is nothing more than this world. He's saying, “Live so that when I return I find you doing what you ought to be doing.” Be confident, trust, but watch yourself. Make sure that you’re not so caught up in the things of this world that you lose sight of the things that will last forever. The servant of God must see that there's only one state of mind which becomes the believer, and that state is a perpetual preparedness to meet Christ. That's the third thing.

IV. Preparing Prayerfully for the Lord’s Coming

The fourth thing is this: we are to pray. Notice what Jesus says in verse 36: “Stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.” If we are to live in this world and to be adequately prepared for the coming of the Lord, Jesus says pray. Now isn't it striking that in this passage Jesus says, “Stay awake and pray,” and in the next chapter, when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane and He's asked His disciples to pray with Him for a little while, they fall asleep and don't pray. If that's not a warning to you, I don't know what is.

William Carey, the great Baptist missionary to India, once wrote back to his congregation in England and said, “India is like a deep, dark mine. I will go down in that mine, but you must hold the ropes for me.” And what he meant by “you must hold the ropes for me,” of course is “you must pray for me.” We know that Bible believing Christians were praying for world evangelism one hundred years before the great century of missions broke forth, so we know the answer to the question, “What lay behind this great spiritual awakening?” now: corporate prayer.

Do we take heed to Jesus’ call that we stay awake and pray? And are we praying for the kinds of kingdom things that Jesus tells us to pray for in this very passage, that we would have strength to endure these trials and to stand before the Son of Man? Is that a regular part of our corporate prayer? My friends, the way that we prepare for the coming of the Lord is confidently, trustingly, watchfully, and prayerfully.