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Luke 12.35 through 40 Be Ready For Our Heavenly King

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“Be Ready!”

 

Our sermon text for today is taken from the Gospel lesson.  We read Luke Chapter 12 verses 35-36.  “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 can immediately open the door for him.”

Prayer:  Would you pray with me please?  Gracious Lord, we thank you for Your word and the reminder it gives us to be ready continuously for You.  We ask for Your help in this exhortation to be ready, that we might be girded up by Your Spirit and strengthened by Your Body and Blood.  Lord, we wait for you and we ask that You would “come Lord Jesus.”  It is in Your name that we pray.  Amen.

Grace mercy and Peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be ready! For our King is coming!

Be ready!...for our King is coming!  I’ll say it again …is coming!  We are waiting but we have a promise from God that He will come and that is all we need.  The world is constantly mocking us for this hope… and many have given up on Him.

Samuel Beckett’s play, entitled “Waiting for Godot,” is a satire on this aspect of the human condition. As Beckett sees it, humanity is waiting for Godot, or God, to come and save them, but he never shows up. But their waiting is in vain, for although they have been repeatedly told that God is coming, he never has, and never will. The characters in the play are told to continue to wait for Godot, for he might come tomorrow. And so they keep on waiting in their dreary existence.  The only prop in the play is a dead tree. The implication in all of this is that there is no God and no Savior. Life, according to Beckett and his fellow Existentialists, is that it is all so absurd. There is no ultimate meaning to existence, and so we have to create our own meaning, without artificial props like a belief in God. The tradition of God coming to earth to save humankind is very strong. It pervades our thoughts and conversations. Beckett wants to dismantle this belief for us. He believes that many people live their whole lives waiting for God to show up, but their waiting is in vain.

However, the futility of life apart from God is more than evident in the play. The characters are pathetic and they contemplate suicide several times, although they can’t even find the emotional energy to carry it out. For people like Samuel Beckett, all this talk of waiting in hope is foolishness. God is not going to show up. We have been deceived. So, what we should do is stop expecting God to show up. That way we won’t be disappointed when he fails to make the scene. Interestingly enough, Beckett wants people to give up waiting on God, but he never offers anything in its place except despair. Some people become apathetic as the wait goes on. They don’t care anymore. Some lose faith. Some become bitter, angry and hostile toward God. There will always be those who believe it is futile to wait for God.

But they deliberately forget that he has already come. He came to the Garden of Eden! He came to Noah! He came to Mount Sinai. He came in the person of Jesus…and he will come again. In fact, God comes to us whether we are ready for Him or not. But we tend to not see Him, because the world and Satan is continuously distracting us and our sinful nature wants to lean toward doubt.

Jesus tells us to be dressed and ready!

So, how is it that we should wait, and what does Jesus mean when He tells us to be “dressed?” Jesus tells us to be ready as for battle!  This word, dressed, in Luke actually means to be “girded up.”  It refers to girding up the loins.  This was referring to the fact that one would belt the garment which is worn “ungirdled” in the house or in times of relaxation, with a view to greater mobility for work, for travel, or for battle.  This is actually a common biblical phrase and even sends us all the way back to the Old Testament and how we are to eat the Passover meal.  In Exodus the Israelites are told to “…eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on, your feet and your staff in your hand.”  Those consuming the Passover were not to be in the relaxed dress of home, but in traveling attire; not at ease around a table, but with walking-stick in hand.  This is true for us today.  We also are to be ready for travel…for battle…ready to be of service to our Lord!

Jesus tells us to wait in absolute certainty!

But yet we wait even as we are ready for service.  Jesus tells us to wait in absolute certainty…  Patience is a fruit of the Spirit… Not long before his death, Henri Nouwen wrote a book called “Sabbatical Journeys,” in which he wrote about some friends of his who were trapeze artists, called the Flying Roudellas. They told Nouwen that there is a special relationship between the flyer and the catcher on the trapeze. This relationship is governed by important rules, such as “The flyer is the one who lets go, and the catcher is the one who catches.” As the flyer swings on the trapeze high above the crowd, the moment comes when he must let go. He flings his body out in mid-air. His job is to keep flying and wait for the strong hands of the catcher to take hold of him at just the right moment. One of the Flying Roudellas told Nouwen, “The flyer must never try to catch the catcher.” The flyer’s job is to wait in absolute trust. With a certainty that the catcher will catch him, but he must wait.

It is possible to fail in our waiting and get ahead of God. You wait and nothing seems to happen, so you panic and start to work things out on your own. You start trying to catch God instead of waiting for him to catch you. Waiting is an art, and timing is everything.  We are called by Christ to “…not be afraid little flock” just before this passage.  Jesus Himself is helping us to know that He will catch us…in fact He already has!  Through His death and resurrection we have been caught already in His capable hands.  This is a certainty! Yet we are still waiting for His return.  So, we are in His hands but we are still to wait.  What then shall we do?

Jesus tells us to wait expectantly!

Jesus tells us to wait expectantly…Gary Preston tells a story in his book “Character Forged from Conflict,” which illustrates how we are to wait. He writes about a time when the telegraph was the fastest means of long-distance communication. There was a young man who applied for a job as a Morse code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, noisy office. In the background a telegraph clacked away. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office. The young man completed his form and sat down with seven other waiting applicants. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. Why had this man been so bold? They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They took more than a little satisfaction in assuming the young man who went into the office would be reprimanded for his presumption and summarily disqualified for the job. Within a few minutes the young man emerged from the inner office escorted by the interviewer, who announced to the other applicants, ‘Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has been filled by this young man.’ The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and then one spoke up, “Wait a minute! I don’t understand. He was the last one to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair.” The employer responded, “All the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. So the job is his.”

We have the Holy Spirit and Christ’s Forgiveness to help us Be Ready!

The young man got the job because he was not just waiting — all of the other men were waiting — but he was waiting expectantly. We are all sitting in the waiting room just like the master’s servants or the virgins with their oil. But it is how we wait, and what we do with the waiting, that is important! The young man in that office was listening. And because he was, he was rewarded. Waiting does not mean just sitting down and doing nothing. We have the gift of His word and you know that God will fulfill his promise. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit which gives us the faith to believe he is going to do it. It is possible to get ahead of God when we try to work things out ourselves, but we have His forgiveness for the times when we wait without really expecting God to come through!  We can wait expectantly…ready for service…with an absolute certainty in the one who has fulfilled all His promises, who has already caught us in His capable hands…and Be READY!

And now may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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