Jesus tells us this morning: “Be sure of this, if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You too must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Vigilance, preparedness, indeed, but with a twist.
In a sort of coded language, Jesus seems to be dropping some clues about how he operates and how he understands himself - perhaps as a bit of a sneak, even a thief. Literally in this passage having your house being broken into means having it burrowed through. In the Palestine of Jesus’ day, walls were made of mud bricks, and to break in all a thief had to do was dig through the wall. Perhaps the Son of Man, is like a thief sneaking around in the night, just outside and trying to burrow through the walls of our resistance and fear, the thick wall of our supposed self-sufficiency. That’s hard stuff alright, and Mercy wants to dig right through, invade our space and suffuse it with his gracious presence. The Son of Man has come to dismantle all barriers to God’s tender mercy.
What is more, his coming is not only a verb in the future tense but a verb in the continuous present, a present reality. The Son of Man is always coming, trying to break through if we will only come to greater awareness of his desire. Remember he is the One who tells us, “Behold, I am coming soon,” while insisting at the same time, “I am with you always.” Life in the kingdom means living in that reality. And if, as we believe, the kingdom will come to fullness in the age to come, Jesus’ plea is for us to believe and live with the realization that it is happening even now and that it can flourish with our cooperation. The “unexpected hour” we await is now.