- Sermon Notes
Be Ready for His Return
Here in Luke 12 Jesus has been teaching a great multitude about how to live out their faith while they're living in this world. He gave very practical warnings to the crowd about being on their guard against every form of greed, saying, "For not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." Jesus continued teaching the crowd telling them not to be anxious, or to worry, or be filled with fear and at the same time teaching them to trust God and have stronger faith.
As Jesus continues teaching the crowd, He moves from the practical faith of living above both greed and fear to being ready for the return of God’s Son when He returns at the end of the age. At first, it may seem like a dramatic change of topic, but it isn't at all. In the first section Jesus is showing them how to live by practical faith in a way that honors God, but now He is telling them to stay faithful and keep living in such a way that honors God with their lives by being ready.
Near the end of this chapter (verses 54-56) He gives a warning about how important it is to discern the signs of the times. There were signs that God had given to Israel so they could discern that God had indeed sent His Son, in a similar way, there will be "signs of the times" so our generation will be able to discern that the time of Christ's return is near.
The signs of the times that Jesus refers to in the book of Matthew are that there will be many false prophets and false messiahs who will mislead many. There will be wars and rumors of war. There will be famines and earthquakes that will grow with greater intensity and occur closer together as the events of the last days draw nearer. There will be a great falling away, or apostasy, as unrighteousness of worldliness increases and the love of many will grow cold.
Jesus also said, "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when it's branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door."
I. Be Dressed in Readiness
- Over and over Jesus presses on our hearts of the importance of being dresses in readiness.
- He then gives several pictures to impress our mind about the urgency of the matter and each of these pictures or illustrations or analogies are filled with insight that apply to our lives today.
A. Keep fire in the soul
- Throughout scripture a lamp that is lit and burning oil is a picture of the life of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
- The Holy Spirit is the very life of God within us and it is He who prepares our lives because He transforms our lives so that we might love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
- There is a connection between the destination and the preparation.
Illus – If your destination is camping, there's a certain way to prepare. If you’re going to take a trip to Africa, there is a certain way you prepare.
If you're preparing for an eternal relationship to God what is it you need? You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because He is the very life of God within and we now have a down payment.
- The life of God is what happens within your own heart; no one can have the life of God for you.
Illus- You can't watch someone else exercise and gain any strength from it. You can't watch someone else's relationship to God and have them experience God for you.
Zechariah 4:6, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.’"
B. Be watching and be alert
- This is a call to keep being faithful. We have seen this point over and over in God's Word. God wants us to walk faithfully and it comes with a great promise, God blesses faithfulness.
- Live with a heart of anticipation, eagerly watching and waiting.
- Jesus emphasizes over and over that no one knows the day or the hour; therefore we should live as if He were coming at any time.
- That anticipation and eagerness keeps our lives spiritually ready. If someone believes that the Master is not coming for a long time, he will live spiritually slothful and lazy.
Illus - I remember growing up that when my parents would leave, laziness would immediately set in. I've often wondered what happened at my house when I left.
- In other words, we should be watchful for the right reason, because we’re ready and watchful.
C. He will come when He is not expected
- Jesus uses several parables or analogies to make the point that the Son of Man will come at a day and an hour when He is not expected.
- In verse 38-40, Jesus uses the picture of the second watch or even the third watch, indicating that His return may take longer than expected.
- He uses the picture of a thief coming in the night. If the head of the house had known the hour, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. However, since he doesn't know the hour or the day, what he must do is always be ready.
- In another place Jesus uses the illustration of the bridegroom coming for His bride and said…
Matthew 24:35-36, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”
- In a Jewish wedding only the father knows the day or hour when the bridegroom would return for his bride.
- The scriptures actually give the Jewish wedding as a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the church. The picture of a wedding also gives great insight into the events of the last days.
- First of all, it's important to understand that a woman was not required to marry against her will. The groom must ask the father's permission, but then he must also ask her permission as well.
- If she agreed to the proposal, he would give her a gift. It might have been a coin; then later, a ring became the tradition. They would then enter into a marriage covenant, symbolized by drinking a cup together.
- He even gives us a "down payment," you might say when He gives the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 1:22, God… who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
- The groom then goes away in order to prepare a home for them. This was usually an extension on his father's house, or a house nearby on his father's property.
John 14:1 -3, "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
- When the father was satisfied that the home was prepared and in good order, he then made preparations for the wedding feast. Since he was paying for it and preparing it, he got to set the day and the hour.
II. Now is the Time to Get Ready
- Over and over Jesus gives us the theme- be ready.
- But in the next verses Jesus gives us reasons to be ready.
A. Blessed is the faithful and sensible steward
- There is great reward for those who are faithful while they are waiting; they are living in faith and in the expectation that He will reward those that are faithful!
Luke 19:10-28 The parable of the minas.
- But Jesus also gives the results that come to those who are not faithful.
- The foolish one would be the person who says in his heart, "I have lots of time, there's no hurry, I'll live it out and party on, and then I'll get right with God later."
- The problem with this heart is that he knows that he needs to get right with God, but doesn't really want to get his life right before God.
Illus –Some believe that being ready means to clean the house and rearrange the furniture at the last minute. But the problem is that they never invited Christ into the house to begin with.
This was a lesson I had to learn for myself when I went to OSU and joined a fraternity…
Psalm 14:1, The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."
Matthew 7:26, "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell and great was its fall."
- The return of Christ will be the most spectacular event the world has ever known. It's interesting that the newspapers use different sizes of letters on the front page according to the significance of the event. The greatest events of all required the use of "Second Coming" type.
- It's interesting how the world uses spiritual phrases to describe various events.
Illus – When California shut down 10 miles of the I-405 Freeway, they called it Carmaggedon. When someone has a career changing meeting it’s called a "Come to Jesus" meeting.
- But there really will be a terrible battle called Armageddon and the time to “come to Jesus” is right now because the signs of the time are all around us.
- That's why Jesus said, "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when it's branch has already become tender, and put forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so you too, when you see these things recognize that He is near, right at the door."
B. Be used of God in reconciliation
- What does Christ want us to be doing with our lives? Answer; we should be doing what God is doing, building and edifying those whom God loves and strengthening faith in ourselves and in those around us.
- God is reconciling people to Himself through Jesus Christ and he gives to us the ministry of reconciliation.
Illus - You might remember a number of years ago when we had the scare about the year 2000. Many people thought all our computers were going to shut down and the world would come to a screeching halt.
My wife and I were acquainted with a man and his wife who decided the best thing to do in response to Y2K was to find some place far out in the woods in Idaho and wait there while the world fell apart. I'm here to tell you that that's not what the Lord wants us to do, as tempting as that may be.
- No, the Lord wants us to be faithful until He returns; we are to be about His business as He said in Luke 19.
1 Corinthians 14:12, 26, So also you, since you are jealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church… Let all things be done for edification.
- When we see the troubles of this world, we realize that people need to be made right with the Lord for that is what truly transforms lives.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 …Powerful words
Luke 12:35-39 NASB