Taking way too long

Jesus said to his disciples,

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)

Jesus reassured his disciples that he was coming back for them, to take them to be with him.

On other occasions he told them to keep watch out for his coming:

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:44)

Some 2000 years has passed since Jesus uttered these words to men who are now dead. Jesus didn’t return to take them to be with him. The disciples may have been ready, but their waiting appears to be in vain. Even during the lifetime of Jesus’ disciples it seems that people were beginning to wonder. The disciple Peter writes to believers:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ (2 Peter 3:3-4)

It’s not too hard to imagine people throughout history, even followers of Jesus, thinking, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” Anyway, why such a long wait? How does it further God’s purposes to extend the waiting period beyond the lifetime of the first disciples. A shorter time would have meant less years of suffering for many who have lived and died since.

The answer in the bible is also given by Peter:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)

2000 years seems along time to us but is nothing more than a weekend to God. It’s no longer than the time between God’s first promise to Abraham and the fulfilment of that promise in Jesus. More importantly, it’s the time of God’s patience, seeking repentance from people. The irony is that the long time at which people scoff is the very same time of God’s patience with those scoffers, seeking their repentance.

So, the important question is not‘why so long?’ but ‘have you taken the time to repent?’

Rob Copland