So what is the Lord assigned you today?
A household to feed, clothe, a sink full of dishes that never seems to empty, along with a diaper pail. Long hours at a job where you faithfully live out your testimony of integrity. And don't miss this, the measure of a faithful steward is just doing what the master assigned to you, which might be nothing more than cooking the next meal on top. Often when we think of our obedience to God, we think in terms of actions to take. For example, actions like evangelize, pray, read the Bible, and go to church are some of those actions. But how often do you think about God's command to wait? How can you fulfill that command with the same eagerness? Because let's face it, waiting is hard. But Jesus teaches in Luke 12 that as you wait for Him to return, how you wait will directly impact what you're waiting for.
Stephen's message is called, On your mark, get set, wait. Well you mentioned the end times and just about everybody will start listening to the discussion. In fact, just about everybody has an opinion about the end times. Even unbelievers have their opinion about what's going to happen next or all kinds of opinions on what will happen. Part of that is actually God's design for us. We're told in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and verse 11 that God has built into us eternity. That is this sense of there's something more out there.
So people, even out there on the street, know intuitively that there's something more than this life. Unfortunately, the Lord has not left us in the dark when Jesus Christ arose from the dead, appearing over the next few weeks to hundreds of eyewitnesses. He eventually gathered his disciples, gave them a final charge to take the gospel to the world, and then he ascended before their very eyes and then disappeared from sight. They sort of stood there gaping at the sky as if expecting perhaps maybe he'd just turn around and come back.
They weren't quite sure what to do next. Two angels appear and they fill in the blanks. They say to these men in Acts chapter 1 verse 11, men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?
In other words, what are you doing just looking out and standing around? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. Simply put, he's coming back just like he went up. Now the prophecy of his return is expanded. It is explained as the New Testament revelation continues to progress and fill in so much more information. In fact, I read in my study that of the 260 chapters we have in the New Testament, the return of Christ is mentioned at least 318 times, which means one verse out of every 25 refers to the Lord's return.
We know a lot, frankly, more about the subject than these early disciples did as they stood gaping at the sky. That's because of completed revelation that we have today. But I do want to say this, beloved, after all the debates over the timeline of prophetic events, and they're worth debating, after all the arguments, don't overlook this most basic truth. He's coming back. He's coming back. He's going to return just as literally and physically as he ascended and went away. Now because of completed scripture, we know that his return will take place in two parts. First, the rapture of the church.
The Lord comes in the clouds to take the redeemed with him back to the Father's house, and that happens in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Corinthians 15. Then we have the second phase of his return following the tribulation on earth. It's not going to be to the clouds.
It's going to be all the way to planet earth. He's going to touch down on the Mount of Olives. That's, by the way, where he ascended. I have an opinion that he's going to touch down on the very same spot and say, see, I told you I would come back. He defeats, of course, the Antichrist and he returns and establishes his kingdom. Now, according to what Luke is about to record, he really wants us to focus on that one main truth. He's coming back, and that ought to affect the way we're living in the light of the fact that he's returning. So what I want to focus on today as we continue our exposition through this gospel, we're in Luke Chapter 12 today, is his key thought, his key verse.
In fact, you could circle it or highlight it as I have. Luke Chapter 12 and verse 40. Now, as we get into this conversation, here's the theme of this paragraph. Verse 40. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Now, since this coming here in this text is related to the kingdom of Christ on earth, we know this is the second phase of his return, when he returns all the way to the earth to establish his kingdom with his redeemed, having regathered Israel, having led them to repentance so that they watch the one descending whom they pierced.
What a moment that will be. And then as the Lord sets up his capital city of the kingdom, which is Jerusalem, as he promised. But keep in mind here in this text, Luke isn't really interested in laying out the prophetic timeline of Christ's coming. He's interested in how believers are going to live their lives in the light of it. So my plan today is really not to dive any deeper into the pool of end time prophecy.
That was all just an introduction. In fact, as a congregation, we spent nearly four years going through the book of Revelation verse by verse. If you'd like to study and read what we studied together, all the sermon manuscripts are available online, outlines, illustrations, footnotes, the entire sermon transcripts, all of it free. In fact, if you act now and call that number on your screen, you can get more sermons than you ever want.
Absolutely free. Now, I want to focus our attention on his primary thought. He has now to tie it together, just recorded for us in real life or in parabolic form, what it looks like to live for yourself. And he's going to draw it now to tell us how we really ought to be living. Now we're in chapter 12 and verse 35. Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning.
Stop for a moment. Two imperatives, two commands, two exclamation points after each is how you could translate it. Stay dressed for action. Literally, keep your lines girded. Of course, in this culture, nobody wore pants. Both men and women wore gowns, tunics to their knees or longer.
So when somebody needed to work or run or climb, they gathered the material in the back, pulled it up through between their legs and tucked it into their belt. They were ready for action. The second imperative here is to keep your lamps burning. Now he's about to describe two nighttime scenes.
Hang on, we'll get there. But he talks about, you need to keep your oil lamps burning, your clothing prepped for serving. So in today's culture, the Lord might be saying something like, keep your sleeves rolled up and your porch light on.
That's the idea. These are present tense imperatives, which means we're to stay in this perpetual state of alertness, of readiness. Now with that, the Lord goes on to give two illustrations of readiness, verse 36. Be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Now a wedding feast in this scenario has just ended. Jewish wedding feasts took place at night. They could last for hours, maybe even longer, depending on the wealth of the family.
The father of the bride, bless his heart. At any rate, Jesus makes the point here that the household servants are staying awake, ready for the return of their master, the owner of the estate. Now in those days, the Jewish people divided the night into three shifts, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. So the second and third shifts are those shifts that you're going to want to sleep through.
Like I remember in seminary a few times to make some extra money for books, I worked for a custodial crew that cleaned office buildings at night, through the night. And I quickly learned that at 2 a.m., nobody's happy. You don't talk. How you doing? Be quiet. Get to work.
Everybody wants to be asleep. Notice what he says in verse 38. If he, the master, comes, returns in the second watch, or in the third, that's around 2 to 3 a.m., and finds them awake, blessed are those servants.
Well, they're unique. They're probably in for a promotion, maybe a bonus. In fact, the Lord tells us that the master does something that would never be done in those days. Get this here back in verse 37, where he says, truly I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. Now, with that, the Lord gives a second scenario of readiness or watchfulness here in verse 39, but know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, another nighttime scene, he would not have left his house to be broken into. In the first scenario, they're expecting his return to some degree. They just don't know the specific power. But now, this one's unexpected. The verb, in fact, to break into literally means to dig through.
The walls in this day were made of clay. If the house was unoccupied, the thief would simply dig a hole in the side of the house and crawl through. The homeowner wasn't expecting a burglar.
I mean, who does? They don't book appointments. They don't send notices we're coming.
They're unexpected. See, again, the point of the scenarios here is that we're usually not prepared. And the return of Christ, even though we expect it, will be unexpected. So we need to just live with this thought in mind, this state of readiness.
We ought to be thinking about it all the time. I like to think of the Christian life as runners that are in their starting blocks. And the starter's pistol is in the air. And he announces, on your mark, get set, wait. We're living in that moment of wait.
We're in the blocks, waiting and watching. Now with that, Peter, so grateful for Peter, he raises his hand and asks a question. Verse 41, Peter said, Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?
In other words, do we need to know this for the final test? Should we be taking notes? Is this for us 12 or for everybody here, maybe for the whole world? Good question. What the Lord does next, instead of directly answering his question, is he describes two kinds of stewards. And he has the disciples in their own mind and heart and this crowd answer the question for themselves. And he wants us to answer the question today. We'll see in a moment that these stewards represent believers and unbelievers of all time. So this is a very good question.
In fact, it is for the entire world. Now, before we dive in, it might help to understand what a steward was. This is Joseph, by the way, in the Old Testament, who was the steward, the manager over Potiphar's estate. Even in the New Testament times, a steward would be left in charge of all the supplies. His duties would be to organize and superintend the activities of the estate. He'd be in charge of purchasing the food and making sure everyone was taken care of. It would be his role to make sure that everybody on the payroll, so to speak, did their jobs while the owner of the household was away.
If he was a faithful steward, he would often be given an immediate promotion to more responsible work. Now, we have to be careful here in these scenarios to make everything analogous to Jesus. In these parables, these scenarios, everything doesn't fit. In fact, if we do that, Jesus just became the burglar in the previous scenario, right?
So we have to be careful there. But the main idea is to simply answer the question, what kind of steward are we? Now, the description begins in verse 42, and the Lord said, who then is the faithful and wise manager or steward, whom his master will set over his household to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom the master will find so doing when he comes.
Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. There's a promotion in view. The faithful servant will be rewarded with more opportunity and responsibility in the household. There is the sense, most evangelical scholars see a hint here at the larger responsibility given to the faithful believer in the coming kingdom. But I want to point out here that the steward's reward, carefully note this, it is not based on his personal power, any kind of unusual skill, even wide influence. Did you notice that he's commended for simply doing what he was assigned to do? He gave them their portion of food at the right time. In other words, the steward made sure the household had that meal on time, that food, that they were fed. He cared about their basic needs.
That was it. The only thing mentioned, something very simple, something unusual, and that it was carefully kept, perhaps. So what is the Lord assigned you today? A household to feed and clothe, a sink full of dishes it never seems to empty, along with a diaper pail, a Bible study with just a handful of kids or adults, long hours at a job where you faithfully live out your testimony of integrity.
Don't miss this. The measure of a faithful steward is not their influence, how wide it might be. The number of people is not the issue. Your talent, your prestige, your title, isn't the issue. Just doing what the master assigned to you, which might be nothing more than cooking the next meal on time. Jesus is delightfully satisfied with you. Now with that, the Lord goes on to describe unfaithful stewards throughout the rest of this passage, verse 45. But if that servant or steward says to himself, my master's delayed in coming, begins to beat the male and female servants to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and in an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.
It's a rather gruesome thought. This is the judgment of God. These unfaithful stewards are unbelievers. The phrase here, to cut him in pieces, is a figure of speech that refers to the severity of God's judgment.
And we know it's figurative because the steward, you'll notice, doesn't end up in little pieces. Luke says here at the end of verse 46, he ends up being put with the unfaithful. He's put out, so to speak, with the unfaithful, which is tantamount in this text to unbelievers. And by the way, keep in mind that Judas is listening to this warning, along with Peter and the others.
Two more stewards are mentioned. All of them end up experiencing the judgment of God as unbelievers. Verse 47, and that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. There will be judgment.
The one who did not know and yet did what deserved, a beating, will receive a light beating. Verse 48, everyone to whom much was given of him, much will be required. And from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. Most scholars that I studied, as I looked at this passage, take the judgment of God against these three stewards as a hint, again, an indication of degrees of punishment in hell, as they're judged. Those who knew more will be judged more severely than those who knew less. If you're an unbeliever and you're here today, you'll be judged more because you've just listened to this passage explained. This principle would also apply to the rewarding of believers. The Bible indicates degrees of rewards, that is responsibility in the coming kingdom. But again, keep in mind that the reward will have nothing to do with how many people follow you or like you, how popular or talented or beautiful or wealthy or well-known or well-connected.
That's not weighed in this balance. God just assigned you to serve a meal, and you did it. You touched one life. You ministered to one sufferer.
You gave the gospel to one child or classmate or coworker. Not much seemed to come out of it, but you're waiting. And while you're waiting, you're watching.
And while you're watching, you're working. I personally believe, and this is my opinion, but I really believe we're going to all be shocked one day to discover the generosity and grace of the Lord in the rewarding of his believers. We've been told he will not be unfaithful to overlook anything.
I think we're still going to be shocked. See, we tend to think in our minds that God will reward us for those great things, that great influence, that great step of faith, and he will. But the devil will be all too happy with that misperception because it will discourage you if no great thing comes your way. While you're waiting to do some great thing for God, you miss doing some small thing for God. See, what Jesus is describing here is a steward who is rewarded for small things, basic needs, small tasks. So whatever it is that he has given you today, you imagine you'll be rewarded as a faithful believer, faithful steward. You might not feel all that faithful.
In fact, you and I will fail as well. But when we do show up, when we do serve, when we clock in, when we share his name, Jesus is delightfully satisfied. In one of his commentaries, Sam Gordon tells the true story of a tourist who was exploring some of the beautiful estates in northern Italy. He arrived at a beautiful castle called Villa Arconati.
I don't know if I pronounced that correctly. But even though it wasn't open for tourists at the time, he pushed on the ornamental gate and it opened, and he ventured inside. Everything was incredibly beautiful. Flowers blooming with extravagant color, all the shrubbery pruned just so precisely, everything manicured, reminded me of my yard, frankly. He noticed over a one side of the castle, a gardener on his hands and knees clipping by hand blades of grass near one of the castle walls. He went over and he said, I hope you don't mind a visitor having a look at your gardens. And the gardener replied, oh, you're more than welcome. I'm happy to have a guest. And so the visitor walked around the beautifully kept grounds and eventually returned and asked, is the owner here today?
The gardener replied, I'm afraid not. He's been away for some time. Well, when was the last time you saw him? And the gardener laughed and said, 12 years ago, 12 years. You mean he hasn't been back here for 12 years?
That's right. Well, now the tourist was intrigued and he asked the gardener, well, who tells you what to do around here? The gardener explained that the owner had an agent in town, in a town nearby who communicated regularly with him. But do you ever see the owner personally? Still clipping away, focusing on every detail, the gardener answered, no.
He just sends his instructions through his agent. The tourist was amazed and he said, but you have everything so well kept. It's all so perfectly manicured. It's beautiful around here. It looks like you're expecting him sometime tomorrow. The gardener paused and said with a smile as he looked up, oh no, not tomorrow. I expect him sometime today.
And so should we. I'm waiting for him today. That was Stephen Davey, the president of wisdom international.
He called this message on your mark, get set, wait. We have a resource to help you be intentional each day as you spend some focused time with God. It's a magazine we call heart to heart. It's a resource we developed to thank our partners. And we'd like to send you the next three issues as our gift to you. The daily devotional guide will help you spend some quiet, peaceful time with God each day. Learn more at wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. Take advantage of this offer. You'll be glad you did visit us online. Then join us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-06 07:16:32 / 2023-09-06 07:25:48 / 9