We often hear today about the eminence of the coming of Christ, and there are not a few people, even well known people, who seem willing to predict when that would occur, showing themselves, one and all, that they are false prophets (Deuteronomy 18:20-21). When I point this out to folks I know, most often these people seem willing to smooth over the false prophecy, by saying something to the effect that the “false prophet” wasn’t really saying that, but the fact is, he did say that, and according to the Bible that one **is** a false prophet. He or she may be famous and appear very religious, but so were Baalim and Jezebel famous and very religious. In fact, the Scriptures even tells us that God spoke to Baalim, but Baalim didn’t have a heart for the will of God.
In Luke 12:35 we have a picture of the eminence of the coming of Christ: “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning…” The mental picture given by the Lord is one of preparedness—being ready for whatever was about to occur. During the first century folks wore clothing that was very loose fitting. When one gird up his loins, he took the loose ends of his robe and brought them in front of him, tucking them under his waist band and tying them there. This freed up his legs for work and for running—even for battle. So, Jesus was telling his disciples to be prepared for what he was about to tell them.
Notice, as well, that their lamps were supposed to be burning, giving the mental picture of nighttime. Whatever Jesus wanted his disciples to be prepared for would come during the night, and they would need the light of their lamps.
The Lord then told his disciples what they needed to be prepared for. It was for his coming (Luke 12:36) or his return from the wedding. This picture is that part of the wedding ceremony that was the betrothal. The betrothal in the ancient Jewish faith was not a mere engagement. The two were considered married, although their vows had not yet been consummated. In order to break the vow of the betrothal one needed to submit a bill of divorcement. The consummation of the vows occurred after the bridegroom left the bride to prepare a place for her and then returned to take her to be with him. So the picture the Lord offers us in Luke 12:36 is the night when the bride waited for the return of her husband (cf. Matthew 25:1-13). She needed to be awake, and her lamp needed to be burning.
Notice that Jesus said: “You, yourselves…” making the command emphatic. He was telling those listening to him that **they** needed to wait for his return, and his coming would be at an hour that would be unexpected, symbolized by the second and third watches of Luke 12:38. Nonetheless, Peter asked Jesus: “Master, are you addressing this parable to us, or to all alike” (Luke 12:41)? No matter how we take Jesus’ response, we must include Peter and the rest of the Apostles of the first century in our interpretation. In other words, if Jesus wasn’t speaking to Peter and the other Apostles specifically, plus whomsoever else we wish to include in our understanding, then our understanding **must** be wrong. Jesus’ reply was for that generation in which he lived during his ministry. It had to be, if Peter was to be included in the command to watch and have his loins girded, waiting for Jesus’ return.
If it doesn’t seem correct that the Lord returned in the first century AD, perhaps we would believe what Peter understood Jesus to say, as it pertained to his return from the wedding. Notice that Peter tells us in his letter to the churches of Asia “the end of all things” was near (1Peter 4:7). That is, “the end of all things” was near in the first century AD. So, should we believe Peter or our favorite TV-evangelist (false prophet)? Notice the similar language Peter uses in 1Peter 1:13, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Peter speaks of “girding up” the loins of one’s mind, preparing for the eminent appearing or coming of Jesus—in that century, unless we wish to call Peter a false prophet in order to retain the traditions of men (Mark 7:7-13) we love to watch on our televisions.