Advent Reflections: Three Ways to Live as We Wait for Jesus’ Return
In this season of Advent, our thoughts are rightly on Christmas and the first coming of our Savior — but Advent is about Easter too.
We’re all familiar with the events of Easter: Jesus’ life, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. In addition to the miracle of his conquering death, Jesus taught his disciples — and us — about his second coming and the end of this current age (Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21). Specifically, he gave us directions on how we are to live while we wait for his return.
Watching, Ready, Working
Jesus told three parables to his disciples which offer practical instructions on how to conduct their lives after his departure to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33).
- The parable of the wise and faithful servant (Matt. 24:45-51)
- The parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13)
- The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30)
These stories explain that Christians should actively watch, be ready, and continue working during this season.
The Parable of the Wise and Faithful Servant
In the parable of the wise and faithful servant (Matt. 24:45-51), Jesus tells of a master who departs and leaves his servant in charge of his household. When the master returns, will he find that the servant was wise and faithful, or was he wicked and hypocritical?
This passage teaches us to always be alert and watchful for the return of our savior. He has already risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, yet he reminds us to live our lives in anticipation of his second coming.
And while we wait, we can glimpse the way things are supposed to be through our own vocational work. We are foreshadowing God’s ultimate work of restoration when he will truly make all things new — and better than we can imagine.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
In the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), Jesus tells the scene of ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom. Half of them came prepared with lamps and spare oil, while half only brought lamps. They had to wait a long time for the bridegroom to come. Once he arrived, the five virgins with extra oil went into the wedding banquet, but the doors were barred against the five unprepared virgins who left to buy more oil.
This parable instructs us to be ever-ready for Jesus to come again. We need to be faithful to what God has called us to today because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The time and hour of his return is unknown, but we have a purpose in this season to be prepared for that glorious day of Jesus’ second coming.
The Parable of the Talents
In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), Jesus tells about a master who entrusts gold to his servants before he leaves for a journey. One servant received five talents, another two talents, and the last was given one talent. The first two put the money to good use and earned additional income on the original amount while the last servant didn’t even earn interest. The master gave more wealth and responsibility to the two trustworthy servants. But the lazy and fearful third servant was stripped of his talent (which was given to the first servant) and cast out into the darkness.
This example reminds us that we have work to do in this season of waiting. When Jesus returns, he will expect that we have wisely used our resources and opportunities. Every moment of our work contributes to eternity. Jesus has entrusted us with things of value and will return like this master to see how we invested his gifts.
Easter is about rejoicing in our risen Savior. Advent is about waiting for his return. Both are because he rose from the grave, conquered death, and is redeeming his people.
As we wait for Jesus to come back, he has given his followers three clear commands: to be watchful for his return, to be ever-ready for him to come again, and to work while we wait.
May we be reminded of those things in order to truly orient our lives around the full extent of the gospel.
Hugh Whelchel is Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and author of How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Hugh has a Master of Arts in Religion and brings over 30 years of diverse business experience to his leadership at IFWE.
This article is republished with permission from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. IFWE is a Christian research organization committed to advancing biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society. Click here to subscribe to the free IFWE Daily Blog.