The mechanics of a trap are amazingly simple. I takes very little wood, steal, or string to actually catch something. The reason for this is that the power of a trap does not lie in the cage, but in the heart of the prey. A trap merely leverages the longings and desires in the natural instincts of an animal. For example, a single marshmallow can catch a variety of curious critters, including a bear.
With that in mind, it is interesting that Jesus compares “that day” to a trap. What is He saying when He makes this connection? First, what or when is “that day” a reference to? If you back track and read the verses before, we see “that day” is the “Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” This is commonly referred to as the second coming of Christ. Prior to His departure, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away, but that He would return. He also tells his disciples, that His second coming will not be like His first. When Jesus first came into the world, He came incognito to an extent. He came as a baby, raised in Nazareth, the adopted son of a carpenter. The second time, He will come in a way that will rock the world. As I write, Jesus is currently with God in Heaven waiting for the appointed time to return to humanity. Humanity is in between Jesus’ return to His Father and His return to Earth. His return the Earth is “that day.”
So why is the return of Jesus like a trap? This seems a little negative doesn’t it? Shouldn’t the return of Christ be a time of rejoicing and celebration? Yes and No. For those who have accepted Christ, it will be a time of great rejoicing; for we are finally going to be with God, our greatest treasure and source of joy. In fact, we should long for the return of our King. However, for those who have not accepted Christ as their King, this moment is utterly devastating.
Why? Because at the return of Christ, the cage snaps shut. The door is closed forever. The jaws of the trap come smashing down and there is no escape. For those who have rejected Christ, at the return of the King, there is no second chance.
If the return of Christ is the launch of the trap, what is the bait? Jesus tells us that the bait is the cares of this life. It is the things that entice us: money, power, clothes, sex, popularity, success, etc. The list can go on and on. The cares of this life are things we put in place of God to be the source of happiness. The cares of this life are things, other than God, that we believe will satisfy our deepest longings. Think of the cares of this life as the marshmallow of Satan, drawing us deeper and deeper into the trap.
So what are we to do? Watch yourself. Jesus tells us to be on guard and examine our hearts to see if we are being drawn into the trap. Ask yourself if you are seeking joy in your job, or in God? Are you seeking joy in relationships, or in God? Are you seeking joy in entertainment, or in God? Are you seeking joy in money, or in God? Are you seeking joy in stuff, or in God? Do not assume upon the patience of God. Someday, perhaps today, Christ will return and the question will be are you inside the trap or with Christ. Don’t take the bait.