Jesus concluded His teaching on the rapture and the end-times with this warning (Luke 21:34-36).
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
The Greek word for “pray” here is deomai. It refers to earnestly desiring or longing for deeply. In effect, Jesus was saying “always keep desiring and earnestly looking for My return.” The implication is that for whatever reason, be it scoffers and unbelief, confusion or disagreement in the Church, or the apparent success of evil doers, we could lose heart.
That’s why Jesus also listed the specific kairos signs we will see that signal His coming. “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
So our stance is one of earnest expectation. But then Jesus seems to throw a wrench into our expectation. Is it possible that we could not be counted worthy to be gathered to Him? What exactly does it mean to be “counted worthy?”
We know that the overriding theme of the New Testament is that we are saved by grace through faith. Salvation and every blessing and every promise of the New Covenant comes to us because of Jesus. He exchanged His worthiness for our unworthiness on the cross. Since the promise to “escape and stand” is just one aspect of the “package of salvation,” it belongs to anyone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ.
So the issue is not a matter of earning our worthiness. Instead, it refers to receiving His strength. The Greek literally reads, “So that you may have the full strength and ability” to escape and stand. The Greek word is katischuo, which describes being thoroughly strong in order to thoroughly prevail.
The book of Revelation links this phrase to those who overcome. Those who are in Christ shall overcome death as He did, through the prevailing power of resurrection. In the meantime, Jesus gave us His authority to prevail now. Putting on the whole armor of God, we stand and say, bolding using our two-edged sword of God’s Word as the Spirit leads.