Ready For His Return

Luke 12:35-40 - Be dressed in readiness and keep your lamps alight. and be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. And be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You, too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.
Christians are especially conscious of the so-called Holy Days of the Christian Church around Easter time. On Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday we commemorate events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. On Easter, Ascension Day and Pentecost we celebrate our Lord's resurrection, His ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Notably absent from the Christian calendar is a special day when we focus on the fact of the Lord's return. This is understandable, of course, because the special days of the Church calendar look back to historical events, while the return of Christ is still in the future.

However, in some ways it's unfortunate that the Church doesn't have at least one special day set aside for directing attention to the second Advent of Christ. This is especially true in view of the failure of most of us Christians to make the imminence of the Lord's return part of our everyday thinking. Every time we celebrate the Lord's Supper "until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26) could really be a special time to focus on the Lord's return, but the majority of Christians often lose sight of this aspect of communion. Perhaps a designated day in the calendar might forcefully bring the great truth of Christ's second coming before our minds at least once a year. Throughout the New Testament the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ is emphasized. The early Christians lived with the expectancy of the Lord's return before them all the time. They believed that the Lord Jesus could return during their lifetime because that's exactly what the Scriptures taught--and still do! In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the Apostle Paul used the phrase "we who are alive" in verses 15 and 17 instead of "they who are alive". This seems to be an indication that Paul considered the return of Christ to be a very real possibility even during his lifetime. The fact that the Lord Jesus still has not returned after more than 1900 years does not make His coming any less imminent--in fact, just the opposite! He could return at any time! There are no prophesies that have to be fulfilled before the Lord returns for His Church. He could come back today! Suppose the Lord did return today. Are we ready for His return? During the latter part of our Lord's earthly ministry he began to speak a lot about His second coming. Some of what He had to say about His return is contained in His parables. In Luke 12:35-40 we have some important teaching about the second coming of Christ contained in two short parables. In verses 35-38 we have a parable about an estate owner who returned home from a wedding celebration. He expected his servants to be waiting up for him regardless of the time he returned--even if it was two or three o'clock in the morning! For those servants who had not fallen asleep and were anxiously waiting for his arrival, the master did something very unusual. He served them instead of letting them serve him. To the people who were listening to Jesus relate this parable, this interesting turn of the story would have been extraordinary--especially if the master was returning from his own wedding feast. Think of it--the master willingly waiting on the servants while they rested and dined in leisure! In verses 39-40 we have another little parable which contains further insight into our Lord's return. In this parable a house was broken into because the owner did not take proper precautions. The robbery would never have happened if the home-owner had known that the thief was coming, but unfortunately he was taken by surprise. Let's now take a closer look at these two parables and see what the Lord has to say about His return for us. The main focus of both these little parables is that we should be ready for the Lord's return. What is particularly significant is the fact that we are commanded to be ready. Both in the introduction (v35) and in the conclusion (v40), the command to be ready for the return of Christ is given. Readiness is not a choice for the Christian! Believers who live as if the Lord's second coming is still far off in the future and see no need to get ready for His return are actually disobedient Christians. Are we obedient Christians who are ready for the Lord's return? We may say that we believe in the imminent return of Christ, and we may agree with a statement of faith containing this doctrine, but are we really ready? The main thrust of these parables is notwhat to believe, but how to be--namely, ready! What exactly do we mean when we say that we should be ready for the Lord's return? Does it mean that we should make sure that we are saved? Salvation is certainly of utmost importance, but our salvation is not the point of these two parables. Our salvation is assumed in these stories. The point of these parables is that to be ready is to be expectantly watching for our Lord. The servants in the first parable were not to be lounging around the pool or off playing in the game room or sleeping on the couch! They were to have their long flowing robes belted up around them so that their master could receive immediate attention when he returned. They were to have their oil lamps filled with fuel, and the floating wicks of those ceramic vessels were to be trimmed and adjusted so that they were burning brightly. The light of a lazy or drowsy servant would dim quickly.

The spiritual lessons of having the "loins" of our mind "girded with truth" (Ephesians 6:14, 1 Peter 1:13) and the lamp of our testimony well lit and shining brightly (Matthew 5:16) could certainly be applied here, but the main idea is to be expectantly watching for the Master's return. We are to be ready bywatching. Watching for the Lord demands attention. Watching the stock market or watching our social calendars is not wrong, but these things can easily distract us from watching for our Lord's return. In the second parable we see the ready-and-watching idea emphasized again. If the head of the house had been expectantly watching, he would not have been robbed. The reason he was not watching was not because he didn't believe in thieves or because he didn't consider robbery a possibility. The owner was not watching because he didn't expect the break-in when it occurred. Is it possible that we could be caught off guard when Christ returns? Are there any activities that you're involved in right now that you'd rather not be doing when the Lord comes back for us? The Lord Jesus is going to return for us at an unexpected hour (v40) and only watching Christians will not be taken by surprise.

One further point should be made here. It may be that there is an added dimension to this parable in the idea of the thief stealing the home-owner's possessions. Read verses 33-34 and notice what the Lord says about our "treasure". Christians who have stored their treasure in heaven by using their time, energy and money for Christ's kingdom have not only stored their treasure in a safe place, but are far more likely to be looking forward to the return of the Lord. Remember--when the Lord returns, we will either leave our treasure, or we will go to it! In verses 37-38, we see that there is a special blessing pronounced upon the servants who are ready and watching for their master's return. A brief comparison of this blessing with the blessing of verse 43 shows that these blessings are not the same. The blessing of verse 43 is for faithfully doing Christian service. But the blessing before us in verses 37-38 is not for working but rather for watching for the Lord's return. All that is involved in this special blessing for the ready-and-watching believer we cannot fully understand or appreciate here in this life. 2 Timothy 4:8 speaks about the "crown of righteousness" which the Lord will give to "all who have loved His appearing". The picture before us shows the Lord serving us in His house. What a blessing! Remember, the blessing is not just for faithfully serving Him, but for faithfully watching for Him. How many Christians will lose out on this special reward and blessing? Will you? In practical terms, how do we go about watching for the Lord? One very practical way is to say each morning as we get out of bed, "Maybe the Lord will return today!" You'd be surprised how this little saying may change your whole way of life! A better way, of course, is to fall more in love with our wonderful Lord. Two people in love do not have to be told how to eagerly watch for each other when they've been apart. Although there is no special day set aside in the Christian calendar to remind us of the Lord's return, this should make no difference to growing Christians. As we come to know and love our Savior more and more, we will be watching for Him daily and thus be ready for His return!
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