Maintaining a Heightened Sensitivity for Christ
(Luke chapter 12, verses 35-48)
Last week when we finished part 2 of Luke's gospel, Jesus was giving some extended teaching time to the apostles, as well as the large crowd that had gathered around Jesus to listen, learn and profit from his teachings. He had just told them, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and where no moth destroys.… ”Reject materialism and all materialistic pursuits. Stop worrying about where you will live, what kind of car you drive, or what style of clothing you will wear today or tomorrow. If any of us died in our sleep tonight, we cannot take any of those things with us. They will remain left behind for your relatives and friends to squabble over anyway, so why not just let it all go? Because, you know, life becomes a lot less complicated when we reject materialism. And now today, as we continue following the train of thought of our Lord and Savior as he taught the people and instructed his apostles, let's take up where we left off last week, beginning at verse 35.
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 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. 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. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or the third watch of the night. 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. You must also be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12, verses 35-40)
Keep your lamps burning! Remember when we were studying part 3 of chapter 11 several weeks ago? In verses 33-36, Jesus taught about letting the Light of God shine outwardly for all to see, and so be a good example for others to follow. Jesus was reminding everyone of this who was within earshot of him, and he was exhorting the people to maintain this attitude of watchfulness. His reason was that he was alluding to the time of his second coming, as well as the considerable length of time waiting for that fateful day to arrive.
However, this teaching can also be applied to the workplace. Even if you have a difficult boss, or if you're stuck working a crummy temp job, and especially if you find yourselves hating either or both, work as if you are working for Christ and him alone and put the rest of it out of your mind. That's how I dealt with my own boredom and lack of satisfaction for the last several years that I was working before I retired. Take charge of your situation as well as your lives. That's why God put a brain in between our ears, so we can think our way through what would otherwise be intolerable situations. So stop and say a prayer of thanks to Almighty God for the brain he gave you, and then go find how many ways you can use that brain to give Him glory, honor and praise.
“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.” Those who have been serving Christ, no matter what capacity that service is, will find themselves being served at the Wedding Feast, which will be the marriage of Christ to his Bride, which is the true Church and not to be considered a part of any man-made religion. Having spent the better part of their lives in His service, these selfless servants of the Lord Christ Jesus will find themselves being waited on hand and foot by Jesus himself at the Wedding Feast, as it is written: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and the Bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 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, verses 7-9)
“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. You must also be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” There are some who say this is a further prophecy by the Lord regarding his second coming. There are still others who say 'No, Jesus was alluding to his resurrection from the dead on the morning of the third day'. Actually, I think both arguments have their merits, so I anticipate both things occurring at some point in the fairly near future. It could be tomorrow, or Jesus may wait a few extra years before He returns. No one can say for sure because it was never meant for us to know. If you see or hear of anyone who claims to know the date of Christ's return, get as far away from those people as you can. They are very dangerous to your soul, everybody has one, and hell is a genuine place that truly exists, a place to be greatly feared. And now let's move on to the second half of today's study, beginning at verse 41.
“Peter asked, 'Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?' 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? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming' and then he begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk? 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. That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready and does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From anyone 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, verses 41-48)
What was Jesus talking about here? “It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” Was Jesus speaking hypothetically or literally? I think it was both, and my reasons are sound. By speaking hypothetically, Jesus could have been referring to all of us performing our due diligence while at work or while parenting our children, to be productive individuals and to refrain from laziness. But if taken literally, Jesus could also have been referring to his own return at his Second Coming, which will be taking place in the fairly near future. This parable Jesus told about the wicked, lazy servant, as Peter found out in verse 42, was and is for everyone, not just the 12 apostles exclusively as some traditional churches erroneously teach.
So what will happen, then, to those who call themselves “Christians” of one denomination or another, but do not make themselves ready for His Second Coming by living out their faith in which they so devoutly profess? “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.” “Him” in this case also includes “her”, it's just that that particular interpretation of the holy Scriptures goes all the way back to the time of Moses. This notion of gender inequality is, unfortunately, very deep-seated within our culture, and it's only been the last 50 years or so that things have finally begun to look upward when it comes to gender equality. That, by the way, will soon include job compensation, a process that is only just beginning.
Of course, there are going to be a whole lot of people that will simply dismiss this entire posting, and more importantly the message it contains, because they don't believe in any of this. Some laugh at Christianity, others will make fun of those who practice their faith, and a few would even kill us for it if they had the chance. Still more don't believe in God at all. What will happen to all those people in the end, when their lives are over, and they find themselves standing before the very God they refused to believe in? It will be the same for those who are called to be in His service, but refuse to heed the call, or claim they can't because of all their other obligations. “That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready and does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.”
'Does not get ready'? As before, Jesus was in this case prophesying about the distant future, but he did it in such as way that only people from that time would finally understand what our Savior meant. People, that's us. This prediction from our Lord Chris Jesus was meant directly for all of us, or at least those of us who obey the commandments of Christ. Sins of ignorance will not be overlooked, but those who do so will receive substantially less severe punishment than those who knowingly sinned.
“From anyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” So if we find ourselves richly blessed in this life, we have a duty and a charge from Christ to share what we have with the less fortunate wherever and whenever possible. That does not always mean mere material goods, since this can by extension include many different kinds of service. Become a volunteer at your church of at an event organized by a nonprofit or other NGO. Do some sort of direct outreach yourself in your neighborhood or at a clinic, food bank, job training center, hospital, nursing home or other volunteer work. Trust me, homeless people need plenty of therapy to deal with the stress of having no place to call their own except a bunk in a shelter, or they sleep in their cars or wherever. So yes, counselors and therapists are urgently needed to lend a helping hand to those who need it the most. The point is – and here's that word again – we have a responsibility to lift each other up. Cooperation will soon replace competition in church and in the workplace, and even between entire countries, which leaves that tantalizing aroma of world peace in the air. Now there's a goal worth shooting for!