It’s here. New Year’s Eve. The last day of 2018. Are you glad to see it go or was it good for you? Do you have regrets? How about 2019? This will be the last “teen” year that most of us will have. Do you look forward to it? Am I asking too many questions far too early in the day?
Something that has been coming at me is the sense of anticipation of the kingdom. It’s been hitting me from several angles in the last two days. When I look back on 2018, I notice a lack of longing for Jesus’ return. Why is that? I had that in other years. Why not this year? I suppose the easy answer is that my life was much more difficult other years, and I simply looked for an end to it. This year has not been like that, although there certainly have been trials in some parts of my life.
This is a problem. Why? Because I am commanded to anticipate my Lord’s arrival. True, when I die, I will be carried by the angels to be with Jesus (Luke 16:22), but I may not have died before he returns.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Am I encouraging you with Paul’s words? I hope so! You see, I might be fully well and alive when Jesus comes. Yes, my body very well might be physically dead or “asleep” for many centuries to come; then again, Jesus may come yet this hour. We simply do not know. But we do know this, Jesus commands us to be ready. In fact, this is one of those “hard” teachings of Jesus that we seldom discuss in church.
Luke 12:35-40 “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 household had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left the house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
There is no wiggle room for interpretation there. We must be ready according to Jesus’ specific command. That’s good news for me, because I’m born again. I’m already ready. Right? I’m sure Peter wondered the same thing.
v. 41-48 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 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. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. 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.
What do you suppose Peter thought of that answer?
On a side note, the former Reverend John Jankowski of St. John’s Episcopal Church in St. Cloud MN referred to this very passage when I confronted him to provide biblical support for his claims that all forms of religion (not just Jesus) are valid for salvation. I kid you not. He then stumbled around and claimed he wasn’t very good at being put on the spot for biblical proof. Incidentally, he went from that employment position to become a Chaplin for the St. Cloud Hospital where he provided spiritual comfort and guidance for the sick and needy. His time on earth was cut short this very September when he died at that same hospital surrounded by his family. He was 55 years old. “I am not born-again!” I can still hear his booming voice from a sermon of his on John 3 in which Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Yikes! True story.
What would you think Peter would say about all that? Was Jesus talking about John Jankowski? Would Peter say it would include himself as well? I think Peter would say it is indeed meant for all.
What about me? What changes do I need to make for 2019? Well, I can tell you one thing, I need to be better ready for Jesus’ return. I want to be that servant who is waiting so that I may welcome him! I want to at servant whom Jesus, my master, calls blessed because I and doing his will and waiting for his return. How do I do that? Well, my guess is that the servants who were faithfully waiting in Jesus’ parable were talking about the master – a lot. I’ll bet they were talking about his return – a lot. I’ll bet they were excited to see him from afar. I’ll bet they talked about him in the marketplace as they prepared for his return. I’ll bet their whole lives were consumed in anticipation.
Father, thank you for you prompting and guidance. I indeed want to be ready and greet you when you come. O Lord, please do not let me be caught off guard. Keep me awake, alert, and on post. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers