Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:42-44 NKJV
There are three words from the Hebrew/Aramaic languages that early Christians and Bible translators brought along, untranslated, into Christian worship. These words needed no explanation, they were commonplace, part of life for the Christian. Two of the words have survived the centuries and are still part of our daily lives, ancient words, untranslated from Hebrew, you likely know them well— Amen, and Alleluia.
Amen is said at the end of prayers announcing personal and community agreement – “So be it”, Amen. Alleluia is a word used in worship, “Praise Yah” or “Yahweh”, the Hebrew word for the God of Israel – “Praise God”, Alleluia.
The third untranslated word is from the Aramaic language and was just as much a part of the daily vernacular of the early church as Amen, or Alleluia—Maranatha, “Our Lord, Come.” It is a word announcing, acknowledging, and anticipating, the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Maranatha appears in the Bible at the end of 1 Corinthians (16:22) as part of Paul’s final word to the Corinthians. “Maranatha. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
Even today, at Easter, Christians commonly greet one another with one saying, “Christ is risen.” And the brother or sister replies, “He is risen indeed.” Maranatha would be a greeting or salutation like that, “Have a good day, brother, Maranatha.” Because the second coming of Christ was something they were ready for, something they anticipated. Not in the sense of anxiousness, like the anticipation of a child for Christmas morning, but ready for, in the sense of being prepared to leave, not bound to anything that might prevent you from going to meet Jesus, ready to go home at a moments notice.
This world is not our final destination. This life is like a vapor that is here for a moment and then gone. Jesus counseled as much in this very chapter as He prophesied of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The people believed that God would protect the Temple against anything, the destruction of Solomon’s Temple not withstanding, they refused to believe it could happen again. It was their center, their right. Yet, Jesus’ message is, essentially, “Don’t live under that assumption”. He told a parable, saying, “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.” Matthew 24:17-18 NLT
And, historically, we know that the Romans did in fact reduce the Temple to rubble just a few decades later.
The message, simply, is not to get so bound to this age that you are not living in light of the next. Don’t live as if the the United States, or your team winning the Super Bowl, or the Presidency, or anything that currently exists, is the hope of mankind, it isn’t—Jesus is. Maranatha!
Tread lightly on this earth, live simply, stay Kingdom-minded, be ready. Jesus is coming back.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:16-18 NLT
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!