In Mark 13:32, Jesus says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
But wait, isn’t this Jesus, the God-man? How does the very Son of God not know when He will return? Doesn’t this show He isn’t God?
Each of these, at first, are very valid questions. It’s also worth noting that his isn’t the first time Jesus is described with restrictions. Luke 2:52, for instance, says Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature.” The book of Hebrews says that “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”
Let’s be clear: Scripture teaches that Christ had to be fully God to represent God to men, and be fully man to represent man to God (Col. 2:9; John 1, etc.). He’s 100 percent God and 100 percent man!
To save us from the Father’s due wrath upon us, He had to be both. If He wasn’t a man, he couldn’t have died in our place as a substitute. If He was not God, He would have been just like you and me—that is, unable to defeat the power of sin and death and satisfy the Father’s wrath as a perfect sacrifice.
Throughout His life, we see glimpses of both natures. For instance:
- Because He was human, He got thirsty (John 19:28). But because He was God’s Son, He could turn water into wine (John 2:1-13).
- Because He was human, He got hungry (Mark 11:12). But because He was God’s Son, He could feed 5,000 hungry people (Mark 6:30-44).
- Because He was human, He became weary (John 4:6). But because He was God’s Son, he was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-15).
And, to answer the question posed at the beginning, because He was human, He didn’t know the day or the hour of His return. But because He is God’s Son and fully divine, He promised He would return with great power and great glory.
In other words, while on this earth, Jesus willingly emptied Himself of many of His divine powers (Philippians 2:5-11). The Greek word is kenosis, which literally renders as “emptying.” In His human nature, Jesus has limitations like you and me.
In short, the reason Jesus doesn’t know is because, in His humanity, He “emptied himself” of all that knowledge and access to it.
But here’s the bigger question: Are you ready for Jesus’ return?
Here are four questions to ask yourself.
- Are you spiritually alert? How would your life be different if you knew Jesus was coming back today? Wouldn’t it make you question, “Am I ready? Am I living to please him?” For many reading this, the ultimate question is, “Is your soul ready for Jesus to return? Have you repented and believed the Gospel (Mark 1:14-15)?”
- Are you urgently on a mission? If you knew the world would end, how would your priorities be rearranged? We are consumed by work, possessions, hobbies and bucket lists. And there’s nothing wrong with these things. We need rest and recovery and we have to work! But in the midst of these things, are we investing our life, time and resources to eternal matters?
- Do you find hope in your most intense suffering? Suffering is a reminder that this world is not the way it is supposed to be. The world is full of unfathomable evil and suffering. The Lord is full of unending love and comfort. If someone you loved died of cancer, if your closest relationship is severed, or if your body is full of pain, you can lift your eyes! Jesus is coming back. His return promises us that the things of this life are only temporary.
- Do you have an intense power to forgive? If you believe Jesus will return as He said He would, then you can forgive as He commanded. At the return of Christ, He’s going to set all things right, and we can endure until then because of that fact.
May we long daily for heaven, pray daily for Christ’s return, and live daily content and joyful as we rest daily in the sovereignty of God.