In our parable for today we’ll hear Jesus tell a story that drives home the need for us to be watchful and ready. Now, we can hear those words I’ve just spoken and run with them in any number of directions. This has been a problem that we followers of Jesus have suffered from for so many years. We read or hear a verse and make it say whatever we want it to say instead of humbling ourselves before the Word of God and allowing God to teach us. Let’s read our Scripture, found in Luke 12:35-48, and you’ll be able to understand what Jesus had in mind when He told His story.
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” 41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” 42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 “That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:35-48 NIVO)
I need to let you know that we will cover the first half of these verses this morning and then we’ll focus on verses 42-48 next week. Jesus said we are to be “Watchful and ready.” Now do you know what Jesus had in mind when He taught this parable? We are to be watchful and ready for His return. Jesus promised His followers that He would come again for His people. It is not a passing thought that is mentioned one or two times by Jesus in the New Testament, but it is a theme He and the authors of the New Testament shared again and again.
Throughout history there have been those who have predicted the day Jesus would return…all of them have been wrong. At the same time, I would venture to say that the vast majority of the followers of Jesus rarely if ever give the return of our King a thought. Most would say, “Well, after all, it has been 2,000 years since Jesus said He would return and no one has seen Him yet.” This mindset is not a new phenomenon. There were those who were alive as the New Testament was being written and they were skeptical that Jesus would ever come again. Peter wrote his second letter some time between 65-68 A.D. In his letter Peter addressed the skeptical scoffer as well as the faithful follower with these words,
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (2 Peter 3:8-12 NIVO)
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” Why has Jesus not returned yet? Peter answered the question by saying, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Oh the kindness and graciousness of our great God! There is one more thing Peter writes which we can not miss and it is found in verse 11.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives (2 Peter 3:11 NIVO)
Knowing the Lord’s return is certain, absolutely certain, what kind of people ought we to be, how should we live as we look forward to our Lord’s return? That’s an important question. I would say that because we rarely if ever think about Jesus’ return we have lost our understanding of what it means to be watchful and ready. As a result, we do not have a strong commitment or sense of urgency to live holy and godly lives. Let me give you another example. Turn with me to Hebrews 10:23-25 and let’s read together.
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25 NIVO)
Let’s work our way backwards through this section of Hebrews. “As you see the Day approaching…,” what are we to do? We are not to “give up meeting together” and we are to think of ways to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” When we live with the thought that Jesus could return any day we will be much more passionate about these things than we will if we never give Jesus’ return a thought, or if we give up on there being any chance He will ever come again. Just one more example. Turn with me to Titus 2 and let’s begin reading at verse 11.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope– the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13 NIVO)
Paul reminded Titus that while we are waiting on Jesus’ return there is much for us to do. How are we to live? What are we to do? We are to say, “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions while at the same time living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives.
Where did Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews come up with this idea of expectantly looking forward to the return of Jesus? How did they come to the conclusion that we are not to climb up on some mountain, huddle up with other believers, and wait for Jesus’ return, but we are to live, passionately, and whole heartedly live our lives for the glory of our King as we wait for His return? The answer is quite simple. They learned to live expecting Jesus’ return from listening to Jesus. They learned what they should do as they waited for Jesus’ return also from listening to Jesus. Let’s take a look at our parable. In Luke 12:35-36, Jesus said,
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. (Luke 12:35-36 NIVO)
Jewish weddings could last up to a week. Those who were working for the master of the house were to be ready for his return even though they didn’t know when he would be back. They were to “be dressed for service,” literally in Greek, they were to “gird up their loins.” They were to tuck their long robes in their belts so they could work. They were also told, “keep your lamps burning.” The people of Jesus’ day didn’t have electricity, they had lamps with oil and wicks. When the sun went down, if they wanted to continue to work inside of their homes, they would have to light their lamps. Jesus said keep them burning, leave the light on. Why should the servants put forth such effort? Why? The master is coming home! And for those servants who are expectantly waiting and looking forward to their master’s return…what a surprise they will receive. Let’s read together the next section of our parable, Luke 12:37-38.
37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. (Luke 12:37-38 NIVO)
The “second or third watch of the night” was between 9 pm and 3 am on a Roman schedule and 10 pm to 6 am on a Jewish schedule. Luke uses the Roman understanding in Acts 12, so Jesus is probably talking about the master returning some time between 9 pm and 3 am. That’s staying up late, and with no guarantee the master will return then. Oh, but when the master comes, when the master gets home, what an amazing surprise those servants will receive. Jesus tells us the master will serve his servants. Jesus already did this once at the Last Supper, the Passover meal, shared with His disciples, when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and served them. Pastor Spurgeon writes,
Our Lord has been here once, and girded himself to serve us; but is it not extraordinary that here is an intimation of a second girding of himself that he may serve us? Oh, how fond is Christ of being the servant of servants, ministering unto those who delight to minister unto him! What an honour does the Captain of our salvation put upon the meanest soldiers in this war when he declares that, if we be found faithful, he will gird himself, and come forth and serve us! (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
There is no doubt in my mind that as Jesus told His parable He had in mind the marriage supper of the Lamb, written about in Revelation 19:6-9. Read it with me as John tells us what he saw and heard.
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:6-9 NIVO)
A great multitude, all of those who for whom Jesus died, every single one, from every tribe, nation, and tongue, will shout, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” They will rejoice, full of gladness, as they give Him the glory. They are those who have been invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! God is preparing a great feast for His people. A great time of celebration for all of His people. This is not a New Testament idea. In the book of Isaiah we read,
6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine– the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:6-8 NIVO)
A new day is coming my friend. It will be a day unlike any day you have ever experienced. Even more, it will be a day that you cannot even imagine. This life is full of hardships, troubles, trials, and death. I don’t need to remind you of these hardships, you have experienced them, some of you are experiencing them even now, and all of us will experience them in the future as well. For more than two weeks the Tignor family has camped out at Baptist Hospital. They’ve been praying, hoping, and encouraging one another as Sam’s life hung in the balance. Sam’s condition has improved remarkably, he’s been moved to a regular room, but he’s still in the hospital.
On Tuesday of this week, after a little more than two weeks since she was diagnosed with cancer, Jesus came for our friend, Joyce Wilburn. We will celebrate our sister’s life next Saturday morning at 11 am here at Britton Christian Church.
Early Thursday morning a friend called to see if I would call another friend. As we were talking she told me the past several weeks have been the worst, full of anxiety, fear, and sleepless nights. I said, “There are more difficult weeks ahead, but you are not alone–the Lord is with you.” I shared God’s Word with her, I tried to encourage her to set her mind on promises from God’s Word that can encourage her. I encouraged her to be “strong and courageous,” just like God encouraged Joshua to be strong and courageous. I gave her direction from God’s Word. In Philippians 4 we are told not to be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything, and the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Before I hung up I prayed for my friend.
These are just a small sampling of the troubles we face in life. There are many of you here this morning who are going through your own troubles this morning. One day our troubles will be behind us. One day He will wipe every tear from every eye and there will never be another tear in all of history for those at the table of our King. One day the people of God who have suffered in this life, who have been persecuted in this life, will rejoice at the table of our King. One day those who have been abandoned, ostracized, and marginalized in this life, will find themselves in the arms of the King, at the table of our King. One day those who have struggled to make ends meet, always seeming to be knocked down just as they were getting back on their financial feet, will find themselves in need of nothing at the table of our King. One day those who have suffered broken relationship after broken relationship, those who have experienced the anger, frustration, hurt, and anxiety of relationships gone wrong, will find themselves experiencing peace and joy at the table of our King. One day, one day, not today, not unless Jesus comes for us today, but one day we will shout with joy like no sports fan has ever shouted!
Jesus was looking forward to that day when, on the night before He was arrested, beaten, and crucified, He shared the Passover feast with His disciples. Each Sunday that we share Communion we remember the night that Jesus broke bread and gave it to His disciples. We remember how Jesus took the cup and told the disciples it was the cup of the new covenant in His blood, His blood which would be shed for many. In Matthew’s telling of the story, after Jesus had broken the bread and they had all eaten it, Jesus said,
28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:28-29 NIVO)
The next time Jesus shares a feast with His people it will be on “that day,” the day in which our Risen King makes all things new and gathers His people for the great wedding supper of the Lamb.
Now, I know some of you are thinking, “Those are beautiful thoughts, but I’m just trying to make it through today. How does all of this ‘Jesus is coming back’ stuff have any relevance for me today?” That is such a great question and I’ve got an answer for you. Let me explain. I want to encourage you to get up early some morning. Drive by a high school close to your house and pull up next to the locker room by the stadium. If you’ll listen closely you’ll hear pain and suffering taking place. You’ll hear heavy weights moving, banging on the floor, being slid onto barbells. You’ll hear young guys putting in the work; grunting and groaning, yelling words of encouragement to their teammates: “Come on, you got this! One more, one more! Keep working! Don’t stop! Finish strong!” If you’ll go back to the high school in about one month you’ll see those same boys out on the field. It’ll be hot, it’ll be humid, but they’ll be working. While other kids are still in bed or sitting in a nice air conditioned home, those boys will be out on the field, willingly submitting themselves to pain and suffering. Why in the world would they sign-up for pain and suffering? Why? Because their coach has convinced them there will be a great prize awaiting them at the end of the season. Every man or woman who has ever played competitive sports knows what I’m talking about. I know what I’m talking about because I’ve had the opportunity to be on some of those championship teams, but the feelings I experienced and the prizes I was given was nothing like what is waiting for me at the end of this life. Paul knew what I’m talking about. He told the people in Corinth what I’m telling you,
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIVO)
Athletics are great, but all athletes compete for crowns, trophies, and medals that won’t last. You and I, we have set our sights much higher and because of that we are running, we’re working, we’re enduring every trial, we are refusing to give up, give in, or give out because we know what is awaiting us at the end of this journey. Knowing this, looking forward to the coming of our King, gives us purpose, hope, and peace right now, not just in the sweet by-and-by. Do you know this peace? Do you know that everything we are going through in this life God wants to use to grow us, strengthen us in our faith, and draw us to Himself? If not, then I want to invite you to surrender your life to Jesus this morning. Will you give Him the reins of your life, surrender your heart to Him, and set your sights on following Him for the rest of your days? I pray you will.
Britton Christian Church
July 14, 2019