I was driving the other day with my two kids when my nine-year-old-daughter asked me an incredibly profound question. She said, “Daddy, do you think Jesus will return in my lifetime?” To which I responded, “I hope so.” I had no idea where this conversation was going, but she continued. “I think it’s really cool to know that everyone will see him when he returns. I can’t wait to see that.”
I have to admit to you, I didn’t have that attitude until much later in life. When I was nine I was petrified of Christ’s return. It was always conveyed to me as a time of reckoning when an angry God will reappear and smite all the minions. I never longed like my daughter for Christ’s return when I was her age.
Luke 12 is on of the longest chapters we’ve read so far, and once again it’s the only place in the Gospel’s that we find Jesus telling the Parable of the Watchful Servant. Although it isn’t listed as an “official” parable of Jesus, it’s still a story/teaching that Jesus uses to illustrate a point. Lets start with the reading:
Luke 12:35-40 (NLT) 35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
Even though Jesus is speaking in a parable style, we understand that he is alluding to the readiness of his disciples, both then and now, for his return. So in preparation for his return we should be…
- Dressed and Ready (v. 35)
- Leave a Light On (v. 36)
- Wait Up, Don’t Fall Asleep (v. 36)
- Watch for His Return (v. 37)
Dressed and Ready (v. 35)
In preparation for his return, the first thing Jesus says we need to do is make sure we’re dressed and ready. Almost sounds kinda comical if you think about it. Listen, when I get back, don’t show up at the door in your skivvies.
Actually, the readiness that Jesus is referring to is a posture of “girding your loins,” in the Greek. It’s more than just putting on clothes, it’s making sure those clothes are ready for what’s about to happen. This isn’t a reference to being physically dressed as much as being spiritually dressed and ready. Galatians 3:27 (NLT) reads: And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
Leave a Light On (v. 36)
Because when your master gets home there’s no switch for a light, a house or servant would typically leave a small oil burning light lit for navigation. We’ve already heard from Jesus in Luke 8 regarding our spiritual lives being an example, like a lamp in a dark house. No matter what time that master got home, the light (both physically and spiritually speaking) should always be lit and ready.
Waiting up, Don’t Fall Asleep (v. 36)
It’s intriguing that Jesus would use the example of wedding for the master to be attending. The reason for this example is not to indicate the Messianic banquet that we’ll experience (Revelation 19:7-9), but rather, the unknown nature of a masters return from a traditional wedding celebration. Weddings were sometimes week long events and the servants of a house wouldn’t know when exactly their master would return.
In light of the unknown arrival time, Jesus is communicating it shouldn’t make a difference. If the master returns a day or a week later, the servants should always be ready, a light should be on, and they should be watching for him.
Watching for His Return (v. 37)
I guess I have a distinct walk. When I was a youth pastor my students said they could pick me out of crowd just by the way I walked. I can remember in college being shocked that people knew it was me from across campus just because of my gate. They couldn’t see my face, they couldn’t hear my voice, but they knew it was me because of the way I walked.
I can’t help but think it would be the same for a servant eagerly awaiting their masters return. I have to believe a servant would be able to look out and see off in the distance something distinctive about their master, even before they could see his face. Maybe it was the way he walked, or the sound of his horses hooves, maybe it was his riding style, either way, a good servant looks for his master while he’s gone.
Think about what this looks like even today. When I look out into the world, yes, I see a lot of hurt and heartache, but I also a triumphant Messiah making his way back towards us. The early apostles believed that he was returning any minute, and it inspired the way they lived. They lived with an abandonment that everyone needs to experience his saving power before he returns.
This is the reason for his delay. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
He Will Wait on You
This is where Jesus flips the script! So the master will be so excited that his servants were ready for his return that when he arrives he will wait on them…? I don’t think so. The early listener would have been like, no, that’s not the way a master/servant relationship works. It doesn’t matter what time master gets home, the servants better be ready. But Jesus isn’t talking about the relationship of the two in this word, but rather in the world to come.
When Christ returns, for those servants who are ready, HE WILL SERVE YOU! I can’t even fathom that reality, but it’s true! The scripture often indicates that God, through his Son Jesus, is a servant.
- He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah who pours out his life unto death and is numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12).
- He is the Humble Servant who washes the dirty feet (and souls) of his disciples (John 13:4-17).
- He is the Son of Man who does not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
The question for us today is simple: Are you, as a servant of Christ ready for his return? Have you been clothed in his righteousness and can be ready to serve him at a moments notice? Is your spiritual light blazing to help those around you navigate this dark world? Have you fallen asleep or are you waiting and watching for his return?
As Crystal Lewis once said: “People get ready, Jesus is comin’, soon we’ll be going home.”