Are You Ready? l Luke 12:35-48 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor
Last week your pastors attended our annual denominational in Denver, and, at one point we took the action of appointing a permanent committee on disaster relief. A group of people who would be permanently tasked with responding to the natural disasters in this world, making sure that our denomination is responding quickly and effectively to Jesus’ call to care for those in suffering. And then, five minutes later, this happened…
No one was expecting a tornado. In fact, the church had never experienced a tornado before in its history. I’d never been in a tornado before. And the moment that tornado warning came in, all of a sudden, we realized, we don’t know what to do. We are not ready. I didn’t even know what you were supposed to do. Do I drop, cover and hold like in an earthquake? Thankfully, the church was prepared, we were sent to the basement and we were all kept safe. In today’s scripture passage we’re going to hear another warning, but this time, not about a tornado, but about something even more serious for which we must be ready.
Good morning and welcome to Chapel Hill. My name is Ellis and I’m one of the pastors here. We’re continuing our journey through Luke’s Gospel, one of the four biographical accounts of Jesus in the Bible. Today we are going to hear a section of teaching from Jesus in Luke chapter 12—feel free to turn now in your Bibles. Jesus is teaching thousands of people who were gathered together, and at the same time his disciples—his closest followers—were also present. And following some teaching on money and anxiety, which we’re actually going to take a look at later this year, Jesus begins his own emergency warning moment. We’re in Luke 12, beginning in verse 35:
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and 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. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:35–40
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
When my wife, Rachel, was pregnant with our kids, I recall how we were prepared to drop everything in our lives at a moments’ notice to go to the hospital. We had the bags packed, the car seat in the car, and we always made sure we had enough gas to make the trip to the hospital. However, when that moment finally came with our firstborn, Evelyn, I was pretty casual about it all. We were at home when her waters broke, and instead of immediately grabbing the bag and heading to the hospital, I said to Rachel, would it be okay if I made some dinner? I wasn’t ready! Thankfully, we made it in time, although, it was only 2 minutes after we made it into the birthing suite at the hospital that Rachel gave birth!
Jesus’ message to his listeners is simple: Be Ready. Through a variety of images and two parables, Jesus tells those listening that they must always be ready for his return, because it will happen when you do not expect it. One of the key beliefs of the Christian church is that Jesus, who ascended into heaven, following his resurrection, will one day return. And in the passage we just read, Jesus is referring to that return.
He uses two parables. First, the parable of a wedding. Jesus tells his listeners, verse 36: “and 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.” Luke 12:36. The image is of a man who goes out to attend a wedding feast and leaves his servants at home. The servants do not know at what time the master will return home. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and I used to go out with my friends. My parents would ask me what time I would be home, and I’d give them an answer, but honestly, I had no idea. It might be midnight. It might be 2am. It might be 4am. In the same way, Jesus says it might be in the early hours of the morning that the master would return from the wedding feast, but whatever time it is, the servants must stay ready for the master’s return, and those that are ready, Jesus says, will be blessed.
So first, Jesus tells a parable about a wedding, and second about a thief. Jesus says, verse 39: “But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.” Luke 12:39. Last December, I was pinged by our home security system to alert me to a video from a nearby neighbor that revealed a man attemptin