There are two, different sermons on this page and the comments from the sermonblog...
Last week we saw how we are to be ready for heaven by not being distracted by wealth, Luke 12:13-21. This week that theme is developed. The disciples were challenged not to trust in wealth but to give it away. Also we are to be aware that Jesus could return anytime and show this awareness by being ready. This involves living for Him and serving Him. Those who have served Him, will be served by Him. The picture of heaven being like a banquet was familiar to the Jews of Jesus' day. This reminds us that "the son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many", Mk. 10:45. The motivation for our readiness is that Jesus could come anytime, but also that he will bring in His kingdom at that time.
The surprise of Jesus' return refers to the nature of his second coming, but can also apply to unexpected death, like the man in last week's parable. No-one can be sure when, or how they will die. Build up treasures in heaven. Not to earn your place in heaven but to show that heaven is your heart.
"The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ." William Barclay in You Can Say That Again, Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 8.
Trinity 10/Proper 14 Year C - Luke 12:32-40
Hebrews 11 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age--and Sarah herself was barren--was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Luke 12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 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. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
How do people get ready to go on holiday? What preparations would they/you make? Get response fromcongregation.
Today's passages remind us that we are to be ready for Jesus return. You could say that they revolve around Luke 12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
God's kingdom is the rule of God, the place where he has control. We see that in part, now. We will see it fully later.
Abraham experienced the rule of God in his life. He knew God leading him, as he left his home when most people his age were looking for retirement. He knew God providing for him as he became a father at the age that other people become great-grandfathers. He knew God testing him as he was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac, but he also experienced God's provision again by a ram being nearby to take Isaac's place.
Abraham's trust in God was not perfect. It grew, and, as we saw in the epistle, Abraham would not see all of the promises of God fulfilled in his lifetime. Hebrews 11 contain a list of Old testament heroes of faith who did not see all of the promises of God carried out. Heb. 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
This links in with God's kingdom for Christians today. We see wonderful signs of it, but there is still so much more to come. Also, because following Jesus means that we are different this will make us feel like aliens and strangers on earth. Whilst this will be difficult in this life it can also reassure us that we are destined for somewhere else that is much better.
Imagine if you got to you holiday and found you had been upgraded for free. Say, from bed and breakfast accommodation to an all inclusive package with all meals, drinks and ice creams thrown in. How would you feel? This is what the servants in the passage must have felt like when the master came home and started serving them.
God has given us his kingdom, verse 32. It will be mind-blowing when we get to experience the full rule of God. It will be prefect there, beautiful, with people and God in close fellowship. Believers will have new, perfect resurrection bodies. There will be no more sin, sickness, death or mourning. We will be able to perfectly worship God with all the other believers from eternity.
Imagine the preparations that we make for a 1 or 2 week holiday.
What preparations have you made, and are you making for eternity?
In verse 33 Jesus said Provide... a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted,
"The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ." William Barclay.
Jesus had just been telling his disciples that they should not worry, but trust in God. He then says verse 32,32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom ".
The kingdom , or the rule of God is a gift. Undeserved. Given to God's flock, his sheep. The sheep knew the voice of the shepherd, trusted him, followed him, put themselves under his care and protection. A gift has to be received and unwrapped. The sheep had to trust and to follow. The kingdom or rule of God has to be accepted and lived. We have to put our lives under the rule of God.
Jesus then goes on to mention two things that this should result in...
1) Investing in the eternal.
Recently people have been living near Mount Etna have been leaving their homes and possessions. Why did they do this ? Because they thought something else was more important. Their lives. They abandoned everything that they had been working for because they feared losing their lives in molten larva.
Verse 33, Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys..
Jesus had been teaching his disciples to rely upon God for everything by using the example of the way God provides for birds and lilies, verses 22-28 . He then tells them to sell their possessions and give the money to the poor. This was to teach the disciples to trust in God, rather than to benefit the poor. In a short time they would be travelling about spreading the gospel and having to rely upon God for their protection and their provisions.
But how do we apply this to us today ? Can we say from this that Jesus calls every Christian to sell all their possessions and give the proceeds to the poor ? No, we cannot do that, although I am sure that there are many Christians who could afford to give more than they do to the poor. Although we cannot interpret this passage in this way because they were addressed to his immediate disciples then, we should not ignore Jesus' words when he said that his followers should not hang on to the things of this world too tightly. We are to give to those in need and not to rely on things which will wear out, run out, be destroyed, stolen, damaged, break down, rot or, devalue.
Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken said, 'There is no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You cannot do any business there.'
Jesus said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, verse 34. Last week we had an illustration of this when we looked at the man who cared so much about wealth that he had fallen out with his brother and failed to recognise Jesus as more than a teacher whom he could get on his side, verses 13-21.
As Christians we need to ask ourselves "What do I value the most ?" Do we value our possessions, our money, our time, our talents, our love, indeed our lives before Jesus. Or have we handed control of all of them to him who loves us and will provide us with what we need ?
There may have been people in Italy who refused to be evacuated and who clung on to their homes, possessions and jobs. Who actually risked their lives for these things.
We might consider someone like that to be foolish, to have got their priorities wrong.
Yet we live in a world, or a part of the world where people cling so tightly to material things that they show that they do not think that the eternal is a priority for them.
Investing in the eternal and...
2) Preparing for Jesus return.
35 "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, In Jesus' day a man would tuck his long, flowing outer robe under his belt or sash to prepare for travel, fighting or work. We may compare it to the expression, 'rolling up your sleeves' to refer to being prepared to work.
Burning lamps were kept burning awaiting the return of a bridegroom for his wedding. A bridegroom would go to his bride's parents house to collect her. The bride, groom, family and friends would then process to the grooms house for a banquet. This process may take some time because the second or third watch were the last two divisions of night time. So the servants had to be ready, watching, prepared to welcome their master and his guests. This would have been hard work, maintaining the lamps, topping them up with oil, keeping awake; making sure that the house and food were ready for the master's return. But the surprise was not that he came back, or when he came back. The surprise was that, when he did come back he rewarded the faithful servants rather than sitting back and expecting to be served. This is a picture of the rewards that our service will bring. Not that we earn God's favour to us, but our response to his favour enables him to bless us even more.
Many of you will know that we were burgled nearly seven years ago, soon after we moved here. We went out to Hanley one morning and came back to find the Patio Door open and many of our belongings missing. If we had known we were going to be burgled that morning then we would not have gone out ! Now we have a Burglar Alarm that keeps watch for us and is ready for burglars all the time. However, all our alarm does is to detect movement, so when our cat crept unseen back into the house the other day we returned to find the alarm had gone off !
We are to use our intelligence and be alert, ready for Jesus' return.
Jesus uses these pictures to encourage his disciples to be ready for his, unexpected, return. The first Christians were expecting Jesus to return soon. Yet we have recently celebrated 2,000 years since his birth. The reason that he has not come sooner is that God is merciful and wants people to have more time to come into his kingdom.
We are about 1960 years nearer Jesus return than when the early church was founded. We can be certain that Jesus will return, because this is the only promise that has yet to be fulfilled in salvation history. Jesus could come tomorrow ! If we knew that for certain how would this affect our lives today ?
As he drew the curtains at night Dr Horatius Bonar used to say, almost as a prayer and with confidence, 'Perhaps tonight Lord !' In the morning as he looked out at a new day he would say, 'Perhaps today Lord !' He expected Jesus to return at any moment.
How would we behave if we knew that Jesus was going to return in a week, or a month ? Would we want to visit all of our friends and relatives who do not know Jesus to tell them of their need to turn to him ? Would we sell our possessions and give away our savings to help those who are in need ? Thinking of Jesus' return and of the judgement that this will bring should inspire us to boldly speak and act for him,
C. S. Lewis, " It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in: aim at earth and you will get neither. "
We are called by Jesus to keep going in our trust, worship and devotion of him. We have to do this in a rapidly changing culture that opposes the ways of God. Political correctness is valued above truth. People are taught to prize and put their trust in material things at the expense of their relationships with other people and with God. Shopping has become the new leisure pursuit and some people now worship at the shopping mall every Sunday. Getting rich quick by gambling is the carrot that is dangled in front of the nation who mistakenly think that money is the answer to their problems.
The rewards of the world are cheap, fleeting, and will not bring satisfaction.
The servants who were ready found that their master rewarded them by waiting on them as they reclined and ate food. The Jews of Jesus' day had a picture of heaven as a wonderful banquet. If we are ready for Jesus return we can look forward to the rewards that this will bring. Everlasting, perfect, close fellowship with God and fellow believers, perfect resurrection bodies, no more pain, suffering, mourning or death, but freedom, worshipping and serving God, all of this in an atmosphere of love. Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) on his death-bed : "Earth is receding; heaven is approaching. This is my crowning day!"
This is the hope and inspiration that is ours. We must be committed to him. To invest in the eternal, and to be prepared for Jesus' return.
Other quotations not used from The Bible and Christianity, Lion Publishing.
Quotation of Helmut Thielicke : Heaven is not a space overhead to which we lift our eyes; it is the background of our existence, the all-encompassing lordship of God within which we stand.
Quotation of Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) The capital of heaven is the heart in which Jesus is enthroned as King.
Quotation of Izaak Walton (1593-1683) I have heard a grave divine say, that God has two dwellings, one in heaven, and the other in the meek and thankful heart.
and, Of this blest man, let his just praise be given: Heaven was in him, before he was in heaven.
Quotation of John Donne (1573-1631) True joy is that earnest wish we have of heaven, it is a treasure of the soul, and therefore should be laid in a safe place, and nothing in this world is safe to place it in.