Once the transition (24:29-34) is completed, Jesus answers the second question the disciples asked Him, about the sign and time of His coming (24:3).
The short answer is: He will come when He comes, and everyone will be surprised.
This is a hard answer for most people to take; even now there are many who write books with long lists of “signs” and “what must happen” before He comes. I’ve often said that if I wanted to make a million dollars in a hurry, I’d write one of those and make a video series with every last titillating detail, but I fear that I’m not clever enough to make them all up!
24:36-37 makes this point about as clearly as it could possibly be made: Jesus didn’t even know when He would return. He expands on this theme in vv. 38-41: It will be just like the flood in Noah’s time. People were going about their lives, just as on any other day, and then it happened: Surprise!
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (24:42-44)
There it is again; it will be a surprise; enough with the signs already! The real question is not when will He return, it’s “are we ready if He returned today”? Maybe this is unfair of me, but I’ve often wondered if so many people were fascinated about wild speculations, signs and lists simply to avoid having to answer that question…
The last few verses of the chapter (24:45-50) make the point yet again with a servant and returning master, which of course would be us (His servants) and Jesus (our master). If He returned today, what would He find us doing? I haven’t been counting, but Jesus, in this short passage, has told us that His return will be a surprise several times, several different ways; we might think He’s made His point by now. Yet still, even now, people today speculate and invent and write…
What makes this even more amazing, is that the entire next chapter keeps giving the same answer to this question, as Jesus tells the disciples three parables; we’ll begin our look at them next time.