Matthew 24:44

Therefore be ye also ready. The one point which our Lord seeks to impress on his disciples is the uncertainty of the time of the great testing day, and of all testing days. The fact that a reckoning day for the Lord's servants must come has to be fully accepted. If there is any sense in which we are now in trust during our Lord's absence, it is certain that his absence can only be temporary. We can never cease to be servants in charge. We can never get a personal right in the things of which we are set in charge. Purposely our Lord withholds from his disciples of every age the date of his return. It is truest kindness to do so. It is moral training to do so. His disciples always go wrong when they try to fix dates. Christ distinctly refuses to allow any data on which such fixtures can be made. Prophets of the "second coming," and of the "end of the world," are wise above what is written, and let their imaginations run riot over Bible figures of speech.


1. It keeps the thought of the Master close, near to us at all times. So it takes us out of ourselves.

2. It keeps us thinking what the Master would like to see when he comes. So it makes us ever busy about our work.

3. It sets us upon thinking what pleasant surprises we can give our Master when he comes. So it lifts our work high above the drudgery of service.

4. It keeps in our hearts the ever-cheering confidence of the Master's smile, if he sees all has been right and is right in his home. Add that all this filling of our souls with the thought of our Master provides the healthiest deliverance from all self-centred sentimentalism. Illustrate from our Lord's picture of the good servant, who was found "watching," in the sense of being busy about his work.

II. THE MORAL INFLUENCE OF FEELING THAT THE MASTER IS DELAYING HIS COMING. This represents the most striking contrast. The thought of the Master is lifted away, and self rises to fill the vacant space. No need to hurry preparations; it will be soon enough when he sends notice. Meanwhile there can be self-enjoyment. There is no fear of being taken at unawares. See the picture of the unworthy servant. Whether men think they can, or think they cannot, fix the time of Christ's coming, the fact for them all will be that he will come to them at unawares, and find them out. - R.T.

Them be ye also ready.
I. To speak of DEATH.

1. At death, the body is dissolved into dust.

2. At death, the soul and body separate.

3. At death, the soul appears before God.


1. All who are prepared to die see their lost state by nature.

2. All who love God.

3. All who have God.


1. Death is sure.

2. The time is uncertain.

3. This is the only world where you can be prepared to die.

4. Now is the time God has given you to prepare to die.

5. He is a wise man who prepares to die.

6. He is a fool who refuses to prepare to die.

(A. Fletcher, M. A.)

I. THE ADMONITION. To be ready for the coming of Christ ought to be the great end of life.

1. To be ready for death, is to have obtained the pardon of all sins.

2. It is to possess renewed natures.

3. It is to have all the graces of the Spirit in vigorous exercise.


1. The uncertainty of the event in question. '2. Death may come when, according to human calculation, there is the least Prospect of it.

3. It may call us when our earthly concerns may make it most inconvenient for us to depart.

4. It may approach when we are least ready for its approach.

(T. Brown, D. D.)



1. Want of consideration.

2. Love of this world and its enjoyments.

3. A vague impression that death is a distant event.


1. It secures the testimony of a good conscience, connected with the favour of God, and the happiness that results from both.

2. Preparation for death alleviates the afflictions of life, and affords much consolation under them.

3. It frees from slavish fear of that event.

(A. Grant, D. D.)


1. His coming at the day of judgment.

2. At the hour of death.


1. It is an evangelical readiness.

2. It is a gracious readiness.

3. It is an habitual readiness.

(T. Hitchin.)

I. WHAT IS REVEALED concerning our Lord's character and appearance?

1. Preparation made.

2. His first coming was in weakness; His second, in illimitable power. His first, in humiliation; His second, in glory.

II. The EFFECT of His coming.

1. Renovation.

2. Dissolution.

3. Manifestation.

(E. Fisk, LL. B.)

A ship in a port, with all its provisions and sails and men on board, is in one sense of the word, "ready" — ready for sea; but it may not be "ready " in the sense this text enjoins. Its sails must be in their places, its anchor must be up, every man must be at his post: then it is actually ready for the ocean and its storms. Let the command come, and in a minute or two it is disengaged from the fastenings that held it, lies down to the breeze, and without hurry or alarm is gone. And this is the readiness our Lord has here in His mind — a state of actual readiness, preparedness of mind and heart.

(C. Bradley.)

I. A CALL TO A STATE OF PREPARATION. The readiness to which we are called is a state that will give us admission to Paradise. The qualification for such a distinction and privilege is —

1. The possession of Christian acceptance and holiness.

2. A faithful and assiduous fulfilment of trust. Trusts of the most important kind are committed to man, for which he is accountable and responsible.

3. Habitual watchfulness.


1. The coming of the Son of Man.

2. The purposes of His coming.

3. Man's ignorance of the period of His coming.

(J. Rattenbury.)


1. At death, the body turns to its original dust.

2. At death, the soul and body separate.

3. At death, the soul appears before God.

II. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN BEING READY? Great events require suitable preparation. Preparation for death implies —

1. A perception of unfitness for death, without an interest in the favour of God.

2. Faith in Christ, which is instrumental in obtaining pardon of sin, etc.

3. Holiness.

4. Diligence in the use of the public and private means of grace.


1. Death is sure to come.

2. The time of death's approach is uncertain.

3. Abundant provision is made to induce this preparation.

4. The present life is the only period in which we can prepare for death.

5. To be ready indicates true wisdom, and gives peace.

(W. N.)

I. WHAT ARE WE TO BE READY FOR? To be ready to leave all that is about us and all that belongs to us, however cherished.

1. To be ready to leave this world, with all its cares, its troubles, and anxieties, for a better.

2. To be willing to be rid of many things that now burden us, and that every Christian more or less feebly desires to be rid of: sin, sorrow, sickness, appetites, disquiet, etc.

3. To be ready to stand at the judgment-seat of Christ. How do you expect to appear there?


1. It is Christ's command. Surely that is enough.

2. He who commands is competent to say what the readiness consists in. It is not what we think, nor what the minister prescribes, nor what custom says; but what Christ has inspired in His own holy word. Faith in Christ, etc.

3. He has promised to make us ready. He is the author first, and the finisher next, of our faith.

4. Why is it so important to be ready? We are to see the Son of God, etc.

5. Such readiness will not interfere with the duties of this world.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

"Mamma," said a child, "my Sunday-school teacher tells me that this world is only a place in which God lets us live a little while, that we may prepare for a better world; but, mother, I do not See anybody preparing. I see you preparing to go into the country, and Aunt Eliza is preparing to come here; but I do not see any one preparing to go to heaven. If everybody wants to go there, why don't they try to get ready?"

Sir Colin Campbell, when summoned to go to India to quell the rebellion, was asked, "How long would it take him to get ready?" He replied promptly, "Half-an-hour." As a good soldier he lived in constant readiness for the call of duty. What a lesson for Christian soldiers! Suetonius tells us that it was a piece of Julius Caesar's policy never to fore-acquaint his soldiers of any set time of removal or onset, that he might ever have them in readiness to draw forth whithersoever he would. Christ, in like manner, who is called the "Captain of our salvation" (Hebrews 2:10). Our enemy is always ready to annoy us; should we not therefore look to our stand, and be vigilant? Solomon's wisdom, Lot's integrity, and Noah's sobriety, felt the smart of the serpent's sting. The first was seduced, the second stumbled, and the third fell, while the eye of watchfulness was fallen asleep.

(John Trapp.)

Every judgment, coming of Christ, is as the springing of a mine. There is a moment of deep suspense after the match has been applied to the fuse which is to fire the train. Men stand at a distance, and hold their breath. There is nothing seen but a thin, small column of white smoke, rising fainter and fainter, till it seems to die away. Then men breathe again; and the inexperienced soldier would approach the place, thinking that the thing has been a failure. It is only faith in the experience of the commander, or the veterans, which keeps men from hurrying to the spot again — till just when expectation has begun to die away, the low, deep thunder sends up the column of earth majestically to heaven, and all that was on it comes crushing down again in its far circle, shattered and blackened with the blast. It is so with the world. By God's Word the world is doomed. The moment of suspense is past: the first centuries in which men expected the convulsion to take place at once — for even Apostles were looking for it in their lifetime. We have fallen upon days of scepticism. There are no signs of ruin yet. We tread upon it like a solid thing fortified by its adamantine hills for ever. There is nothing against that, but a few words in a printed book. But the world is mined; and the spark has fallen; and just at the moment when serenity is at its height, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the feet of the Avenger shall stand on the earth.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Essex Remembrancer.
I. The SOLEMN EVENTS for which we ought always to be ready.

1. Death.

2. Judgment.

3. Eternity.

II. In WHAT THIS READINESS CONSISTS, and how it is to be obtained. It consists in a proper arrangement of all our temporal and spiritual concerns. The preparation of the heart for the worship of God on earth and in heaven is from the Lord, and includes —

1. Divine illumination.

2. There must be faith.

3. A life of faith must be evidenced by a life of holiness.

4. We must live a life of prayer.


1. It is certain the Son of Man will come.

2. It is uncertain when the Son of Man will appear.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

Why do men refuse to heed the caution, and shrink from contemplations on their latter end.

1. The love of life is a powerful instinct. As men shrink from death by this vital instinct, so the thoughts of it are disagreeable.

2. The sentiments and symbols of men respecting death which have a painful and mischievous effect upon the imagination and feelings.

3. There are reasons which act powerfully from out of the affections, to make men slow to think of death. The mother could think of death except as a separation from her child.

4. Do you fear to come to God because of sin. Christ removes this. The pain of dying is small. We shall enter upon another life divested of the hindrances of this. Why is it not as easy to think of death as a golden gate, as to think of it as a murky gate?

(H. W. Beecher.)

I remark, then, in view of this subject thus far opened, that a proper Christian watchfulness and forethoughtfulness in regard to death and the future life will not abstract us from this world, but return us back to it better fitted to perform our part here than ever before. You are, after a long, weary summer's day, suffocated with heat, grimed with dust, covered with perspiration, and fretted of skin; and you are permitted to go down to the shore of the ocean, and bathe in its translucent waters; and your body is cleansed and cooled, and reinvigorated; and you return along the shadow of the evening, grateful, and stronger than you went. Now, God's ocean of eternity is so near, that the soul, moiled with trouble, may cast itself in, and bathe its troubles away, and return to its life again, bright, clear, inspired, strong. If you think of death as a slave, looking upon it as going into servitude under a hard master, then it may weaken you, and take away the comfort that you have; but if you think of it, as every child of God has a right to think of it, as going to your Father's house, where a rich banquet is prepared for you, and where you shall enjoy the companionship of saints and angels, it will be a source of comfort and strength to you. We can afford to take trouble here for the sake of gaining such an inheritance. What would I care for being poor, if I knew that at the end of one year I should have ten millions of dollars? Men would toil hard, and unremittingly, and without complaint, if they could be assured that the boundary of their toil was within their computation, and that all beyond was to be enjoyment and the amplest wealth. Men do endure everything in the hope of securing wealth and enjoyment. How will they pursue laborious industry in the chilling regions of the North, or how will they plunge into the heat of the tropics, encountering sickness, and the malaria of every delta that has commerce in it, in the hope that they may return to their father's house, or the village or neighbourhood of their birth, and spend the few closing days of their life in pleasure and comfort. And if such is the strength of the hope of a short period of earthly peace and rest, how much greater must be the strength of that man's hope who expects, after a few years (he cares not how few, so that God's will is done) he shall rise out of this world of trouble, and care, and vicissitudes, into the land of glory; God's land of freedom, of nobility, of purity, of truth?

(H. W. Beecher.)

It was s wish that Christ, when He came, might find him either praying or preaching. It was Latimers wish (and he had it) that he might shed his heart-blood for Christ. It was Jewel's wish that he might die preaching, and he did so, for presently, after his last sermon at Lacock, in Wiltshire, he was, by reason of sickness, forced to his bed, from whence he never came off till his translation to glory. I have heard the like of Mr. Lancaster, a precious man of God, some time pastor of Bloxham, in Oxfordshire, a man very famous for his living by faith. Cushamerns, a Dutch divine, and one of the first preachers of the gospel at Erfurt, in Germany, had his pulpit poisoned by the malicious Papists there, and so took his death in God's work. "What l would you that the Lord, when He comes, should find me idle?" said Calvin to his friends, who wished him to forbear studying awhile for his health's sake. And such a like answer made Dr. Reynolds to his physician upon the like occasion. Elijah was going on and talking with Elisha (about heavenly things, no doubt) when the chariot of heaven came to fetch him. There can be no better posture or state for the messenger of our dissolution to find-us in than in a diligent prosecution of our general or particular calling.

(John Trapp.)

Mr. Wesley was once asked by a lady, "Suppose you knew you were to die at twelve o'clock to-morrow night, how would you spend the intervening time?" "How, madam?" he replied; "why, just as I intend to spend it now. I should preach this night at Gloucester, and again at five to-morrow morning. After that I should ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon, and meet the societies in the evening. I should then repair to friend Martin's house, who expects to entertain me, converse and pray with the family as usual, retire to my room at ten o'clock, commend myself to my heavenly Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in glory."

I. What Christ's ministers are entrusted with?

1. The gospel.

2. The ordinances.

3. The care of the Church.

4. The souls of the members.

II. What ministers may be said to be stewards and rulers; teachers and preachers; elders or pastors?

III. Who are wise, faithful servants of Jesus Christ?

1. Such as serve Christ because they love Him.

2. Such as serve Christ in all humility.

3. Such as serve Him with a perfect heart.

4. Such as feed the Master's household with all that food the Master hath provided or appointed for them.

5. Such as feeds the whole household.

6. Such as seeks the honour of Christ in all he does, not his own gain.

7. Such as cares for the weak babes, or little children, of his Master's family.

(Benjamin Keach.)

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