Bible Passage: Luke 12:35-48
Intro: Good Morning/Afternoon church family and friends. My name is Pastor Matt and it is absolutely great to be back with God’s people, in God’s house. Today, we continue to look at Jesus’ teaching in Luke’s gospel about being authentic, real Christian disciples. Jesus explains it’s not enough to call ourselves Christians, we actually need to live as servants of Jesus…
Well friends, on Thursday morning George Stephenson came to church to have a coffee with me. All was quiet because Geoff, Sylvia & Peter were all down with Covid. As George walked up the stairs towards my office – I heard his voice boom out – Have you not heard? Do you not understand? The King is coming. Go out into the highways and byways and prepare the way for the Lord. The King is coming. I smiled and thought to myself – “yep, that’s George.”
As he came into my office – I asked “why the proclammation?” And George said that about 3am in the morning (a couple of weeks ago) he sat bolt upright in bed – with the words ringing in his ears – the King is coming. Have you not heard? Do you not understand? The King is coming. Now I’m not sure George is a prophet or even the son of a prophet. But he is biblically right. The Bible tells us the King is coming.
This is the truth that Jesus impresses on his followers in today’s passage. JESUS IS COMING BACK and one day we will all give account for the things we have done in the body. It is not just NON-CHRISTIANS who will be judged. Christians and especially Christian leaders will judged for the things we’ve done in the body. That is the reality.
For the last three weeks as you’ve worked through Luke 12 – Jesus said (Slide 2) “be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy.” (12:1). The following week Jesus said; be on your guard against greed (12:15). Then last week – Jesus added “and I tell you do not worry about your life.” Although, this last one does not carry the exact words be on your guard against worry – the sentiment is still present. Hypocrisy, greed and unchecked worry about the things of this world – will not be good for us – on judgment day.
So having given these warnings (to his disciples) – Jesus asks a very pertinent question. He says in todays passage; (ENTER). Now you can change the word MANAGER to Christian, or disciple or servant – because that’s who Jesus is talking about. What does it look like – to be a faithful and wise Christian? OBVIOUSLY, its not those who live as hypocrites. OBVIOUSLY, its not those whose life is consumed with greed. Jesus called the man who built bigger and bigger barns – a fool. Not wise. (Lk.12:20). AND OBVIOUSLY the person who is consumed by worry is not being faithful either. Jesus said the worrier – “O you of little faith?” So who is the wise and faithful Christian?”
Point 1: Christians must live as Servants of the King (who will soon Return)
Show: Lk.12:35-37 (READ)
Explain: The words “be dressed ready for service” is literally “GIRD UP YOUR LOINS.” It’s the idea of a Jewish servant pulling up their robe and tucking it into their belt because they have work to do. Its saying prepare yourself mentally and attitudinally to do whatever your master wants. The second thing – KEEP YOUR LAMPS BURNING is about being ready at every hour of the day. Your dressed as a servant and your ready as a servant – always. Jesus then tells A PARABLE. Jesus says “like” men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet.
In Judaism “wedding banquets” were big affairs. They’d often go for days. So potentially, when you include travel a master could be away for a week or more. So naturally, in the master’s absence the servants may be tempted to IGNORE some of the master’s commands. Or maybe, even LAZE around the house act like they are the master. Its like the old saying “while the cats away the mice will play.” But Jesus is saying, at all times (whether the master is physically present or not) we need to maintain the ATTITUDE of servants and the READINESS of servants – to actually be ready when the master returns. The minute you stop being a servant is the minute you stop being ready for the master’s return…
If you look down to verse 40 – you’ll see that it says (READ; Lk.12:40). Notice it says you must ALWAYS be ready – because the Son of Man will come when we don’t expect him. It’s talking about Jesus’ second coming. The going away to a wedding – is like the period of time between Jesus’ FIRST and SECOND comings. Jesus came the first time as the Passover Lamb who was slain for our sins. Jesus has now returned to heaven (and he’s not physically present with us). But when Jesus comes again it will be as the Lion of Judah and we’re going to hear him roar. Jesus is THE MASTER in this story. He is forewarning that he will be going away for some time. And the only way to be ready for his return is to assume the attitude and readiness of a servant (at all times).
So are you ready? If Jesus comes back – say tonight – would he find in you a prepared, willing and ready servant? Or would he find hypocrisy, greed and perhaps a whole lot of unnecessary worry that is distracting you from Jesus’ instructions…
GOSPEL: Now friends we know Jesus first served us by dying for our sins. God originally gave us life – so that we might 1) serve Him, 2) obey Him and 3) live for His glory. BUT INSTEAD, we used the life God gave us to serve ourselves, obey ourselves and live for our own glory. The consequence of this rebellion is death. BUT IN HIS GREAT LOVE FOR US Jesus became a man and then died on the cross to take the penalty for our sin. Jesus laid down his life (and died on the cross for you) – so that he might take the punishment for all your sin. And God’s promise is that if you 1) believe Jesus died for you, 2) you repent of your sin and 3) start living with Jesus as your Saviour and Lord – you are forgiven. Let me assure you that if you have not accepted Jesus as your Saviour and Lord, you are not ready for Jesus’ return in any sense of the word. If you’d like to be ready – please speak to me after the service OR if you’re watching online, send the church an email. We want to help you.
Apply: But this passage today is not focussed on unbelievers. Jesus is focussed on Christians being ready for his return. When we accept Jesus as our Saviour and Lord – God calls us to become servants of Jesus. IN RESPONSE to Jesus serving us, we are meant to serve him. So for Christians to be truly ready for Jesus’ return we need to be living as servants of Jesus. Not being hypocrites. Not simply building bigger and bigger barns. Not worrying about things Jesus told us not to worry about…
The question is are we really living as servants, remembering that our Master and King will soon return? Of course, all orthodox, biblical Christians believe the APOSTLES CREED and we say (Slide 5) But do we really believe?
You know – it’s been nearly 2000 YEARS since Jesus died on the cross, rose again and returned to heaven. That’s a long time. So I think many people (even some Christians) are starting to live like Jesus will never return. But Jesus says we need to be ready because he may come like a thief in the night OR he may come in the SECOND or THIRD WATCH of the night. The Jews divided the night into three watches – 6pm-10pm, 10pm-2am & 2am-6am. So when Jesus talks about coming in the third watch of the night – it means the last bit of the night, just before dawn. So even, if Jesus comes back way later in history than we think he should – we still need to be ready.
The minute we forget Jesus is coming back – is the minute our Christian life gets out of whack. WHEN WE FORGET Jesus is coming back – we start to accept hypocrisy in our own lives as if it doesn’t matter. WHEN WE FORGET Jesus is coming back we start to think that building bigger and bigger barns is somehow important. WHEN WE FORGET Jesus is coming back we begin to worry about all sorts of things that we can’t control and we shouldn’t worry about.
So – Do you not know? Have you not heard? King Jesus is coming. He will return – NOT A) as the Lamb who was slain, but as B) the awesome, powerful Lion of Judah. And you’re going to stand before him and give an account of your Christian life. You will explain why you made the choices you made. Jesus won’t really care about your pre-Christian life because that is forgiven. But He will care about what you’ve done with your Christian life. He will care about whether you’ve been a faithful and wise servant OR a hypocrite…
I’d say one of the keys to remaining a faithful and wise servant is to live every minute of your life remembering King Jesus is coming back. Even in the Kings absence – you are not the king. The only way to be ready at Jesus’ return is to remain a humble and ready servant. And especially, if you are a Christian leader…
Point 2: Christian Leaders must also live as Servants of the King (who…)
Show: Lk.12:41-46 (READ)
Explain: Well the good thing about Peter is that he always asks the dumb question – that we all want to ask. Peter says “do you mean us?” Peter more or less says – Lord you’re talking about regular Christians aren’t you. You don’t expect the 12 apostles to be servants too. Surely, the 12 apostles are going to be rulers in your kingdom.
We kind of know this is what Peter is thinking by the way Jesus answers the question. Jesus tells another parable about a faithful and wise “manager”? Now the greek word “MANAGER” – does not mean boss. The word “MANAGER” is a technical word that means lead servant in a particular house. In wealthy Roman and Jewish houses – the master of the house would often appoint a lead servant to look after all the other servants. So Jesus is now telling a parable to the apostles – where he is explaining to them, that although they are like “lead-servants” in Jesus’ kingdom, they are still servants. In fact, Jesus gives A VERY, VERY, VERY BIG WARNING to the apostles (and by inference to all church leaders). He says that if the apostles start acting like they are the Master – abusing Jesus’ other servants and eating, drinking and getting drunk on Jesus’ things – when he returns he will assign them a place with unbelievers. That’s talking about hell.
This is huge. Jesus is saying; “No matter how big a Christian leader you are – you’re never really the boss.” Jesus warns church leaders to be very, very careful that the special position they have does not go to their head. Church leaders are meant to serve Jesus’ people, NEVER, EVER rule or bully or abuse Jesus’ people. Church leaders who fail in this regard will be assigned a place with the unbelievers – in hell.
Illustrate: While I was away I read this book “FAITHFUL LEADERS” by Rico Tice. Rico is the same British minister who put together our Christianity Explored Course. In my opinion he is a good, biblical pastor.
He wrote this book – because he is concerned about how many Christian leaders (with big names) are living as complete hypocrites. He wrote this book to encourage genuine Christian leaders TO BE CONTENT being small, humble, faithful servants of Jesus’ people. In some ways he even wrote this book as a rebuke to the evangelical Anglican church for being so focussed on fruitfulness (and church growth), that we have almost forgotten what faithfulness looks like.
So this week I bought 9 copies of this book. This afternoon I’m going away with 9 other pastors (who I love and respect). We meet in order to hold one another accountable as Christian leaders. And I’m going to give them ALL a copy of this book – because I want them to finish the race. I want them to one day hear the words from Jesus – “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Apply: Sadly, so many church leaders are failing in faithfulness to Jesus that it is causing 1) baby Christians to question their faith and 2) it is causing the world to scoff at Jesus’ name. That’s serious. So Jesus warns church leaders that if they fail to be wise and faithful servants themselves; if they abuse the position they’ve been given – they will be assigned a place among the unbelievers. It make me wonder how many popes, bishops and pastors will end upin hell. (Now perhaps I could theologically massage what Jesus says and talk about the 1) perseverance of the saints or 2) once saved, always saved). But Jesus simply says – church leaders who fail to be faithful servants will go to hell. Justice will be done. Church leaders who have abused their position, abused the vulnerable, abused Jesus’ words – will go to hell.
Now let me explain something very important. As Christians we are all saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But that doesn’t mean we will avoid being judged. As a Christian you will still be judged by Jesus when he returns. However, Jesus’ judgment of you (as a Christian) will not determine whether you are going to heaven or hell. (As a Christian you are going to heaven by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ).
But Jesus judgment of you as a Christian will determine whether you get into heaven A) by the skin of your teeth or B) with rich commendation (1Cor.3:10-15). Paul tells the Corinthian church (in 1 Corinthian 3) that some unwise Christians are going to enter heaven like those just escaping the flames. That’s not a risk I’d encourage any of you to take. But there and elsewhere, the bible tells us that those who have been wise and faithful Christians will somehow be commended more richly, than those who have remained worldly. So (as I understand it) our judgment as Christians WILL NOT determine our salvation, BUT IT WILL determine the richness of Jesus’ commendation and perhaps even the rewards and responsibilities we are given in heaven.
However, when it comes to church leaders this parable suggests they may actually face hell if they have abused their position (and never truly repented). Now again, I could perhaps theologically massage that statement. But for those who have been watching the news this week – there were a whole lot of Anglican Bishops in Brisbane – who need to hear this warning. Jesus is saying that if Bishops (who should know better) – fail to serve him faithfully AND fail to feed the church faithfully, they will be risking their own salvation.
Now to clarify this truth – that church leaders and regular Christians are going to be judged by different standards – Jesus finishes with one more illustration. He says;
Point 3: Christian Servants who know Better, will be Judged harder (when…
Show: Lk.12:47-48 (READ)
Explain: Now this is an important word because even if you’re not a church leader, don’t think your judgment is going to be a walk in the park. Jesus explains that Christians are going to be judged on the basis of how much they know about Jesus. A) If you’ve been a Christian your whole life, with a good Christian family, access to the Bible and good education – Jesus will expect a bit more from you than the Christian in Uganda who was raised in animism, has no church to attend and no Bible to read. Its very simple. The MORE you know about Jesus AND the MORE blessings you’ve received – the more strenuously you will be judged.
We all tend to remember the Bible passage in James that says; (Slide 13 – James 3:1). Now this is true and I can’t afford to forget this verse. But all of you need to remember this passage in Luke’s gospel. To whom much has been given, much more will be asked…
Apply: We all tend to measure ourselves by other Christians. I’m alright. I’m sure I’ll be ok on judgment day because I’m better than that Christian over there. But that other Christian may not have had your biblical education. That other Christian may not have been discipled like you’ve had the priviledge of being discipled. No. We have to simply look at ourselves and ask the question; “what does Jesus expect of me – given what I’ve been taught and the blessings I have received.”
The truth is – Jesus is coming back and we’re all going to be judged for the things we’ve done in the body. As Christians that is not something to be terrified about because we are saved by God’s grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But our coming judgment is something for us to be SOBER MINDED about. In every decision of life – we need to ask ourselves (on judgment day) 1) will Jesus commend me for this choice OR 2) rebuke me for this choice? The words you want to hear on judgment day is “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
So get in the habit of asking yourself is this action, this choice, this priority, this use of my time – something Jesus will commend or rebuke…
Have you not heard? Do you not understand. The King is coming. And I believe that for Christians to truly live faithful and wise lives – we need to live like Jesus is coming back in our lifetime. (Of course, Jesus may not come back in our lifetime). But I truly believe the Bible itself encourages us to live, think and act like Jesus’ return is imminent. Perhaps today. Perhaps within the next 7 years. Jesus tells us to gird up our loins as servants and keep our lamps burning because at any minute he could return.
But do we really believe Jesus is coming back and perhaps soon. MAYBE you don’t have time to store up treasure in heaven – LATER. MAYBE you don’t have time to get serious with Jesus – LATER. Don’t waste your life. Squeeze the most out of every moment of your life (for Jesus’ glory). Store up as much treasure in heaven as possible by recognizing now that the Lord’s return could be IMMINENT, because I truly believe Jesus’ return could be more IMMINENT than we realize. ARE YOU READY?