A sermon on Luke 12:35-40 for the Sunday of the Fulfillment November 21/24, 2019.
Ready or not, here it comes. The recent bout of cold temperatures and snow on the ground caught many people by surprise. People needed to finish raking their leaves, that is if the trees dropped them by this point. Leaves piled by the side of the road waited for the city to come and pick them up. Some last minute cleaning up in the garden and flower beds still had to be done. Nobody wanted to exchange their lawnmower for snow blower just yet. Ready or not, here it comes. We groaned to wake up to the color of white on the ground. We scrambled to throw some extra blankets on our bed to keep us warm on the freezing nights. This year these things caught many people by surprise.
We can quickly catch up, even though we might not have been fully ready. We quickly rake up the last bit of leaves as we are able. We shovel our driveways and sidewalks. After all we live in Wisconsin. We knew it was coming sooner or later, but we wished it was just a little later.
Another big day is coming. Will we be ready? We need to be ready for it, because it is a matter of life and death for all eternity. Our Lord will return.
Jesus Wants Us to Be Ready!
I. We need to be dressed.
II. We need to be constantly on the lookout.
We are in the time of the church year when our attention shifts from our Christian life on this earth to looking forward to the end. Next week we begin a new church year with the Advent season. The theme from our lessons over the last couple of weeks focuses on the glories of heaven and Judgment Day.
Today we celebrate the Sunday of Fulfillment. The culmination of everything takes place when Jesus returns on the Last Day. With this day quickly approaching, the warning goes out for all to be ready. Jesus tells his listeners to watch for the signs. All these sings have been fulfilled, which means our Lord indeed will come back and very soon. Jesus wants us to be ready when that day comes. He does not want to find us distracted or worrying about petty worldly things. Jesus wants us to be ready to welcome him.
“Be dressed, ready for service, and keep your lamps burning. Be like people 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). The servants await the return of their master from a wedding feast. As good servants, they will be in a constant state of readiness. They will be dressed so they can attend to any of the master’s needs. They will have their lamps lit to light up the way for the master. They eagerly wait to hear the knocking on the door. They want to answer the door quickly not wasting anytime to welcome the master home.
These servants will have pleased their master in carrying out their assigned tasks. Jesus even says the roles will be reversed for those prepared servants. “Blessed are those servants, whom the master will find watching when he comes. Amen I tell you: He will dress himself and have them recline at the table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37). The master becomes the servant and the servants the master. Pleased with their attentiveness the master joyfully rewards the servants by elevating them.
Jesus wants us to be ready for his return. He tells us to wait patiently for this great and glorious day. Yet, waiting can be so hard. We walk into a restaurant on a busy Friday night, and they say that we will have to wait thirty minutes for a table. We wonder if we should stay. That seems like a long time. We take a seat, but we do not want to wait patiently. We watch the clock like a hawk. We go up and check periodically to see if we missed our name being called. Once those thirty minutes are up, we might even think about walking out if nothing is ready.
We wait for our Lord to return. He tells us he is coming soon. Our excitement, which was once very evident, wanes. We ask the Lord to speed his coming, but we start to think he forgot all about it. Over the course of the passing days and years our readiness is not always up to par.
When Jesus returns again, will he find us ready to meet him? Or will he find us chasing after the joys and pleasures of this world? Our hearts focus more on the latest gadgets coming out for Christmas than being ready to welcome the giver of all. Our minds concentrate on who will get the biggest deer this hunting season rather than pondering on God and his Word. We are more ready for all the Christmas get-togethers coming up than looking forward to the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven.
Jesus wants us to be dressed and ready for him to return. No longer do we want to live for the here and now, but we prepare ourselves for eternity. We make sure the lamp of faith burns brightly in our hearts. We build up those flames by making use of God’s Word and sacrament often in our life. We dress ourselves with Christ’s perfection.
We do all of this because we know what is at stake. Jesus will come. He will be joyful with those who are ready to greet him. Our Master will welcome us to his kingdom. He will take all the believers to their heavenly home elevating them to their glorious dwellings. We want to be dressed and ready. We want to be prepared for that day for the results are eternal.
Will the Lord find us ready? He gives us the tools to prepare for his coming. We need to heed his words of warning and be in a constant state of looking for his return.
The servants did not know at what time the master would return from the wedding banquet. “Even if he comes in the second or third watch, they will be blessed if he finds them alert” (Luke 12:38). The master did not say he would be back at a certain time. Those servants had to be ready whether it be midnight or 2:00 AM. They could not become drowsy otherwise they would miss their master’s return.
Jesus uses another example to further his point. “But know this: If the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into” (Luke 12:39). A thief does not announce their coming. They do not leave a nice note for the home owner that says, “I will come back at 10:00 PM. I would appreciate the door to be unlocked, and possibly you to be away. I plan on only taking your most valuable possessions, so please leave them in an easy to find location.” If a thief did this, the owner would be waiting for him, probably either with a gun and the police. The owner would take the proper precautions to protect himself and house.
A thief waits for the opportune time to break in. They will wait until the owner’s guard is down, and then they will jump into action. Their actions are secretive. The homeowner needs to always be ready. The doors and windows will be locked. Valuables will be placed in a safe. These steps are done, because we do not know when a thief will break in.
“You also, be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you are not expecting him” (Luke 12:40). Jesus will come again. We know this as a fact. We do not know when Jesus will come back, so we must always be ready. This means we need to constantly be on the lookout.
We live in the End Times. Our Lord and Savior can return at any moment. So many people think they can put their faith on the back burner. They fall into peer pressure into thinking that church is no big deal. They trap themselves under the lies of the world saying that sin is no big deal. They fail to feed their faith with the life giving gospel replacing it with sports, riches, fame, and whatever else.
When Jesus comes there will be no second chances. We cannot say, “Jesus, can you please give me another week to make sure I get everything all set?” Jesus will not give us a free pass just because our life was too busy and hectic for church and his Word. We need to be ready at all times.
We truly are prepared when we put our faith in him. He alone won heaven for us by his death and resurrection from the grave. He alone conquered our great enemies to give us freedom.
We never stop being ready. Our entire life the Holy Spirit prepares us for this great moment as we continually build ourselves up in God and his Word. With our faith firmly planted on God, we will be prepared. With our eyes constantly looking and waiting for Jesus to return, we will welcome our Savior with hearts full of joy and praise.
Many of us might be more ready for winter now than we were a couple weeks ago. It will no longer sneak up on us unexpectedly. We have made all the preparations. Are we ready for the Lord to return? We need to be dressed and waiting. We need to be constantly on the lookout for this great day. Jesus Wants Us to Be Ready. Amen.