"But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matt. 24:43-44)

This short parable or analogy spoken by Jesus is powerful, yet it is widely misunderstood.

Many ecclesiastical Christian teachers have interpreted this to mean that the world will end and Jesus will come riding through the sky to save those who joined the church and kill off everyone else. This is fiction.

Some churches go to the extent that they keep a list of "the saved."

There are several holes in this fictitious tale of the world ending, invented initially to scare people into attending the early church, and eventually being utilized over the centuries by those wishing to gain or keep followers:

- If the world was going to end then why did Jesus say, after describing his appearance and the death of millions of people: "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." (Matt. 24:34)

- If the world was going to end then why did Jesus say: "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left." (Matt. 24:40) Where would the one who is "left" go if the world was ending?

- And what happens to those who followed Jesus but died before this supposed end of the world scenario? They'd have to wait around somewhere - some for thousands of years - for Jesus to come riding through the sky at the end of the world? Where would they wait, and wouldn't their bodies have long decomposed by them?

Moreover, some ecclesiastical Christians have been predicting this end of the world scenario for the past 1,700 years in an attempt to scare people into joining their organizations and their respective interpretations. Just consider some of the more famous yet incorrect predictions made through the centuries:

Hilary of Pointiers: 365 AD (the date predicted as the second coming and end of time)
Saint Martin of Tours: 375 to 400 AD
Sextus Julius Africanus: 500 AD
Gerard of Poehlde: 1147 AD
John of Toledo: 1179 AD
Joachim of Fiore: 1205 AD
Pope Innocent III: 1284 AD
Melchior Hoffman: 1533 AD
Benjamin Keach (Baptist): 1689 AD
William Whitson: 1736 AD
Ann Lee (The Shakers): 1792 AD
Charles Wesley (Methodist): 1794 AD
Margaret McDonald: 1830 AD
Joseph Smith (Mormon): 1832 and 1891 AD
William Miller (Millerites): 1843 and 1844 AD
Ellen White (Seven Day Adventists): 1850, 1856 and "early 1900s" AD
Mother Shipton: 1881 AD
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses): 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994 and others more recent.

Now what kind of credibility does this create? Should we continue to believe these prophesies by those who want to scare us into believing?

The reality is that Jesus was talking about the mass slaughter of millions of Jews and early Christians at the hands of the Romans - in the Jewish-Roman wars, which began at about 60 A.D. with the burning of Jerusalem and the sacking of the Jerusalem temple. This was a horrible holocaust, in which the Jewish and early Christian people were decimated by the millions. What few were spared were either enslaved by the Romans or ran off into the desert to eek out an existence hidden in caves. And even many of these remote camps - including Qumran - were eventually ransacked by the Romans.

The Jewish-Roman wars lasted nearly a century. It is one of the longest wars ever recorded, and more people were slaughtered than in previous Middle Eastern history - or since, in a single war.

So Jesus, in this private conversation with his disciples, was trying to prepare them for their coming death, made inevitable by the brutal war to come.

The actual meaning of Jesus' parable above is actually quite simple. "The owner of the house" symbolizes the living spirit - the person - who resides in the physical body. The "house" symbolizes the physical body. The "thief" represents death, which can come at any time.

If the person within the body is prepared for the death of their body, then they will be prepared for it by directing their focus upon God. If they are focused upon God as death approaches, then they will be prepared for Jesus "appearance" (ἔρχομαι is better translated to "appear" in this context, rather than "come") at the time of death. They will, in other words, be much more likely be the "taken" as opposed to the "left" (Matt. 24:40).

"Taken", in Matt. 24:40 means being taken back to the spiritual world. Being "left" means to continue our hellish existence within the physical world - away from God.

So "the son of man will come" refers to the appearance of Jesus at the time of death of each of his students. As their spiritual teacher, Jesus pledged that those who obeyed his teachings and directed their lives towards loving God would be led back to the spiritual world. This is the 'second coming' that Jesus referred to.

This has been confirmed by clinical death research, in which those who have been dedicated followers of Jesus found themselves facing Jesus after they left their bodies.

The spiritual world is driven by relationships. When God sends His representative to retrieve those who desire to return to Him, His representative not only teaches. He also illustrates with his life how to love God and serve God. Those who follow establish a relationship with God and His representative. This relationship causes God's representative to escort those followers at the time of death back to the spiritual realm.

Jesus is being very clear about this, but those without spiritual vision have tried to bend and twist these statements to boost their own interpretation - in an attempt to gain followers.

Even the translation of the Greek phrase υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου has been twisted. This has been incorrectly translated to "son of man," but what is a "son of man"? Isn't every male a son of a man? It is simply an empty phrase when mistranslated.

Rather, the Greek word υἱός (huios) has two possible meanings - it can mean offspring in the physical sense, but it can also mean, as taken from the Greek lexicon, "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower." Furthermore, the Greek word ἀνθρώπου (anthrōpos) means "generically, to include all human individuals" in the Greek Lexicon. This means ἀνθρώπου refers to 'humankind,' 'mankind' or 'humanity.'

And since the Greek word τοῦ means "of", the phrase means that Jesus is putting himself at the service of humankind, or better, humanity. In other words, instead of "son of man," υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου should be translated more accurately to "servant of humanity."

"Servant of humanity." is a statement of humility, yet it is an exalted statement of love, compassion and caring. This is confirmed by Jesus' statement:

"The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matt. 23:11-12)

Jesus taught this with words and example. The bottom line is that Jesus continued to serve his students not only by teaching them, but by then escorting them back to the spiritual world at the end of their lifetimes - as long as they were prepared.

And what did Jesus teach his students - and all of us - to become prepared?

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.”
(Matt. 22:37-38)