To tarry is to wait patiently and expectantly for something to take place that you are confident is going to take place. John 15 describes this as ‘abiding’ or living, which implies working while you wait. So, as Christians, what are we to be waiting for, and what are we to be doing while we wait?
Object of Expectancy
The Bible tells us that what we are to expectantly wait for is the return of Jesus Christ as King of Kings, to complete our salvation and to destroy evil once and for all. His death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin, but His return will remove the presence of sin. Right after the ascension of Jesus Christ, the disciples were reminded by some angels that He would return in the same manner He had left, dramatically in the clouds. Matthew 24:30-31, Jesus states that “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” The ‘Son of Man’ refers to Himself, and the time of this great event (not the rapture) is immediately after the tribulation. Really, you could say that all of history has two climaxes: the first coming of Jesus Christ to pay for our sins, and the second coming of Jesus Christ to separate all who believe from those who wish to remain separated from God forever.
Living in Expectancy
To abide is to live. Many verses, especially in John 15, describe the Christian life as ‘abiding in Christ.’ So, to wait expectantly for Christ’s return is not about standing or sitting around, but about living His way and being caught doing what He called us to do, which is to make disciples. In Matthew 24 (verse 14), Jesus says “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Also, in Matthew 28 (verses 19 and 20) He instructs His disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you;” remembering that “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We all have work to do, no matter who we are, how young we are, or how old we are. God has given every believer special spiritual gifts to enable them (you) to accomplish this task. We do not have to feel alone, or that it is too much to handle; we are part of a team, called the Church of Jesus Christ, and we all have the gift of the Holy Spirit of God living inside of us, directing us if we are willing to listen.
Caught in the Act
Usually this phrase tells us that someone what caught doing something they shouldn’t, but in this case, I would like to use this phrase to remind us that we should be caught doing what we should. Jesus tells some great stories to illustrate this principle. The first is found in Matthew 21 (verses 28 to 32) where He tells of two sons. The father asked both sons to work in the fields. The first son said that he would not, but later regretted his decision and went to work. The second son said that he would do the work, but got lazy and did not do it. Those listening recognized that the first son, though rebellious at first, was the one that did the will of the father. Likewise, those who allow Christ to abide in them, even in every decision, are those who are doing the will of the Father in Heaven. It is them that will be rewarded at Christ’s return, whether He returns in our lifetime, or whether we must wait.
Another illustration is found in Matthew 25 (verses 1 to 13) where we see ten women waiting for the bridegroom that is coming to his wedding. Five of them were ready for his arrival because they had extra oil for their lamps. The others were caught unprepared and were not available when the bridegroom arrived. This is a good reminder for us that the coming of the bridegroom, which is Jesus Christ, is expected but the time is unknown, so we must always be prepared.
So, what will you be caught doing when Jesus returns? If the rapture were to happen today, would you be caught up, or be caught ‘missing in action’ because you were unprepared? Let us all do the work God has called us to do.