Be Ready

Sermon 1831 Luke 12.35-40 November 20, 2022

Since 1999 “Let Me Shine,” a Christmas song part of our Sunday School’s 1998 Christmas program, has been in continual use here at Christmas. It is a complicated song for younger children, not really a round but more like a Broadway song with two voices singing different parts at the same time! This year I had a group stand in front to sing the counterpart. The first time I did it, because there is a long interlude, I said, “Ready?” They nodded. The music went on. I had asked too soon. I said again, “Ready?” Still too soon. Then they missed their entrance. “Why didn’t you sing?” I asked them. “You didn’t ask if we were ready!” I’ve learned my lesson. Now the third time I ask, “Still ready?” It has become an inside joke, as much a part of the song as the singing.

It’s not enough to be ready. You have to keep being ready. I wonder if that is what Jesus meant when he told the parable of the watchful servants.

Be Ready

1. We don’t know when Jesus will return (38-40).

2. We’ve got lots to keep us busy (35-37).

“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or 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 also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (38-40).”

Be ready, because we don’t know when Jesus will return. Jesus tells a parable. A master is at a wedding banquet. Evidently it was a doozy, because the servants don’t know when the master will return. Will the party stretch on until after 9 pm? Will the celebration go into the wee hours of the morning and the master will come dragging home just before three in the morning? They don’t know. All they know is the master will probably be in a better mood if he comes home late than if he came home from a 3 pm wedding an hour and fifteen minutes later! But his merry mood could soon melt away if he has to stand outside for an hour, banging on the door to try to get someone to let him in!

No one knows when Jesus will come back. The Lord has hidden from us the date of the Last Day. That’s the point of Jesus talking about a thief. Every thief comes at a time when he isn’t expected. That’s why he can break in. So Jesus will come unexpectedly.

I thank God that we don’t know when the Last Day is. Could you imagine the temptation it would be if we knew the Lord was returning on a certain date? Our sinful human nature would plan on painting the town red every night until two weeks before Doomsday. Then it would get religion and plan on entering heaven after fourteen days of holy living.

What good would that do me, if, drunker than a skunk, I plowed my car into an electrical pole and killed myself a month before Doomsday? What good would it do someone higher than a kite speeding 120 miles in a head-on crash on Sunset while they were trying to get a taco south of the border? What good would it do mild mannered you who were so busy with your daily life you never gave Jesus a thought?

But if I know Jesus could return at any moment, “when you do not expect him,” I am going to fight against the urges of my sinful human nature. I am going to stay close to Jesus by staying close to his Word. There might be a remedy being caught by a pop quiz in your high school English class, but there are no do-overs for Judgment Day.

Be Ready. We’ve got lots to keep us busy.

I am not a baseball fan, but I and the wife did try to catch all the World Series games. I was shocked to hear the announcer let us in on a little secret one game. The pitcher on one of the teams was so good at either striking batters out or getting them to ground out to the infield, the outfielders sometimes zoned out. They are getting paid millions to stand in the middle of a big field and they can’t concentrate on what is happening three hundred feet away? The other announcer responded, “Yeah, a lot of games they don’t have much to do.” Would that a third baseman or a shortstop, the numbers on their jerseys hidden by dirt, could complain they didn’t have much to do during a game!

But I get it. If you don’t have much to do, it is easy to lose focus. Even well-paid professional athletes can lose focus. So any eighty year old who dozes off in the Lazy-Boy shouldn’t feel so bad.

Christians have lots to keep us busy. How could we possibly zone out?

Jesus pictures the warm welcome the faithful servants give their master, no matter when he drags in.

“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 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 (35-37).”

The staff is ready for service. The meal is ready, all chopped up on the slicing board and ready to go into the fry pan. The stove is stoked with firewood, nice and hot. The table is set. Everything is clean and orderly. Even the lamps are all lit. The place looks like one of those model homes, all cozy and warm as you drive by it on a cold November’s night.

It takes work to keep a place looking perfect. One of our members who just moved back to Phoenix, was a designer/decorator for model homes. Come to think of it, another one of our members, still with us, does that very thing! The care and thought needed to pick the perfect colors, the right furniture, placing everything in just the right spot, it’s a good job for someone with a classy and keen eye! But it is all wasted effort if it only gets cleaned once every thirteen weeks if it needs it or not! It will need it! These servants have been busy keeping everything clean.

Well, this is a parable, so the busy servants are not telling us cleanliness is next to godliness in our housekeeping abilities. We have a Christian home, ourselves, to keep clean. We have a Christian home, our message of Jesus, to welcome people in.

Let’s look at the inside first. Many times the Bible talks about the need to keep our hearts clean and pure. Our new life with Christ is pictured as one without spot or stain or any other blemish. It is hard to stay that way. One slurp of my spaghetti and meatballs and I have another shirt for the wash. When we do sin, we wash that sin away through repentance, confessing our sins to God and believing that, for the sake of his dear Son, God has freely forgiven us all our sins. But a lot of cleaning can be avoided if we take preventative steps. If I have gotten myself all greasy working on the car or dirty and sweaty cleaning the windows, I don’t stomp through the house. I slip into the bathroom right by the garage door and take a shower. It saves a lot of cleaning elsewhere. In the same way, when temptations come our way, cut a corner here, not quite tell the whole truth there, it is so much easier in the long run to be honest, to be diligent, to be faithful to the one who lived thinking of us right up to his last moment on the cross. That will keep us busy. We won’t be like those Astros dozing off in the outfield during a no-hitter.

Now, let’s look at the door. The master knocks and expects to be admitted, pretty quickly. There’s lots of people whom the Lord wants to come inside his house, his family of faith. I know, unbelievers cannot “knock” on the door to be let in, but opportunities do knock. Let’s be ready for the opportunities. When a neighbor or a friend talks about how empty their holidays feel, invite them to church. If they are worried about their children’s education, tell them about our Sunday School or Green Valley Lutheran School. The Holy Spirit builds moral backbone for the youth here. If you see an unfamiliar face in worship, go up and introduce yourself! Get to know them! It may be their first time in church and they really, really want to talk to someone. Everyone wants to be noticed, at least a little bit. If our Savior cares for us, we should care for others. Be open to evangelism opportunities. It doesn’t always mean knocking on the doors of strangers. It can also be a friendly conversation over a cup of coffee.

Now here is where the parable gets crazy. The master comes home, let’s say three in the morning. Everybody is up. Everybody is waiting for him. The fixings for breakfast are already there. Buckwheat pancakes, scrambled eggs and thinly cut New York Strip steak. And lots of coffee and orange juice. The master is so happy, he puts the apron on, kicks everybody out of the kitchen. He flips the pancakes, he cracks the eggs, and he throws the steak on the grill. The sun rises on the whole bunch of them still gathered around the banquet table as he tells them how great the wedding banquet was and they swap stories of memorable parties they’ve attended.

Jesus has the carton of eggs out in heaven. Jesus has the grill ready to go. The pancakes are ready to be flipped. He is itching, looking forward, to that eternal feast in heaven where he can share all eternity with us.

I don’t want to miss it. Do you?

Be Ready

1. We don’t know when Jesus will return (38-40).

2. We’ve got lots to keep us busy (35-37).

Ready? Ready? Still ready? Good! “See the star, sing the song to the babe so small……”

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