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35. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
36. And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
41. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
42. And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
43. Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
44. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
45. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46. The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
47. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
49. I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?
50. But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
51. Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52. For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
53. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
We have mentioned in the last two services (“Dangers of Discipleship” Part I and Part II) that evidently the things that Jesus discussed in this chapter must be very important because He was aware of the dangers that would rise up and the stumbling blocks that would come. Therefore, He gives very serious warning to the disciples about these matters or attitudes or actions or temptations that might cause them to set aside their following after the Lord, and set aside their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In most cases, what we have talked about has to do with a pattern for living in this world in the here and now. So also does the rest of this chapter, but it has this distinction that when you are really looking for the Lord to come, when you are believing in His return, then you live in a state of readiness and preparedness because you don’t know when it will happen but you are looking for His return. So let’s talk about it tonight.
He said, first of all, you are to strengthen yourself, your loins be girded about. He means to strengthen yourself to stand and stand up and stand out for truth and righteousness in these last days, and to be strong in faith. He said, ‘Let your lights be burning.’ He intends for us, the church, to be like lights upon a hill that cannot be hid. These lights are shining out and pushing back the darkness. The church with its many lights shining and its strength of faith plays a tremendous part in our whole world in these days. If suddenly the church would be taken out of this world, then all hell literally could break loose unhindered upon this world. It would be a time that would finally develop such as people have never know and never experienced and it would bring down the judgment of God and the wrath of God to try to turn people back to God.
In the Bible, especially in the prophets, and also in the book of the Revelation, anytime God allows judgment to come upon any part of this world it has redemptive purposes. It is like discipline to turn people. It is not that God wants to beat up on people, so to speak, but it has the definite purpose of turning people to God in repentance and humility so they may once again honor Him and serve Him. Even the Great Tribulation will serve that kind of purpose. We hear John saying over and over again in the book of the Revelation ‘and yet they repented not of their evil deeds.’ After certain plagues, certain judgments had come and yet they did not return, showing us the exact purpose for such a thing. Jesus here is teaching, ‘Strengthen yourself and be alert. Let your lights be burning.’ You don’t know when your Lord is going to come back as if a man was returning from a wedding and he had been gone for some time. He says ‘Blessed who are the people that He will find watching and looking and waiting for His coming.’ He said it may be in one watch of the night or another watch of the night. We don’t know for sure, but it sums it u p in verse 40 by saying ‘Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.’ We would think that someway, somehow there would be a divine communication to our hearts to alert us to the fact that the moment has arrived, the trumpet is about to sound. Somehow I think that surely the Lord will deal with the members of His body. He will deal with the Church in such a way to quicken our state of alert before He comes. But, He warns us very specifically that nobody knows the day nor the hour. You don’t know the watch of the night when it will be. The only thing to do is to continually, constantly, absolutely be ready because you don’t know when the Lord is coming. Just rest assured He is indeed coming!
Then He goes further to talk about some of the kinds of dangers that could creep in when people are not really ready. He talks about this whole thing of losing faith and becoming unfaithful. In verses 41-53 He talks about who is going to be that faithful and wise steward in verse 42, ‘whom the Lord will make ruler over his household…’ Look at that for a moment because it is extremely important. He is talking about a steward over God’s property. A steward is a person who is hired to look after, to manage, to oversee someone else’s property. It may be a great farm. It may be a business. It may be a household. Whatever it is, the person is to oversee it and take care of it. He says ‘I am looking for someone who is a faithful and wise steward; somebody who manages with wisdom, somebody who oversees with good judgment and wisdom.’ The Lord is looking for that kind of person to later on become a ruler over His household. The thing that the Lord is looking for is the persons that He will place in places of responsibility in the fulfillment of His kingdom.
Simon Peter talked about being good stewards on one occasion in I Peter 4:10. He says that as every man has received the gift of God, meaning that every one of us in the Body of Christ receives certain gifts and talents from the Lord. He says that as every man has received that gift, let him oversee it. Let him use it. Let him work with it as a good steward of the manifold grace of God. Now when you really look at what that verse means, it means that God has brought to us certain gifts of His marvelous grace and we are to manage them, and oversee them, and use them for the glory of God; these manifold gifts of the many-sided grace of God. He is saying that God has turned over these grace gifts for individual people to use. They are to use them in spiritual wisdom and understanding. That literally says ‘if there is a soul that needs to be saved, God has turned over to somebody the grace of God to bring them the good news and bring them into the kingdom of God.’ If there is somebody whose life needs to be healed, God has distributed gifts in His Body that somebody can manage and use that grace to bring healing love to a life. What is God using you for in this world for? What are your gifts? What mixture of gifts do you have? I’m of the opinion that if we follow the admonition of Jesus here and become a faithful and wise steward of whatever gifts God gives us that He will add to. When you are faithful, when you are obedient, when you don’t quench the Spirit, God adds other gifts to your life and literally after awhile gives you a total mixture of spiritual gifts so that you are a minister unto God overseeing that portion of His grace that He has entrusted to you to bring to bear upon the lives of people in this world. Hallelujah! The most important thing you can do is to oversee the grace of God that the Lord has put into your power. Use it to bring healing, to bring love, to bring salvation, to bring encouragement, to bring uplifting and edification to the members of the Body of Christ and ministry to the world itself. He says that the person who is this faithful and wise steward, the Lord will make him ruler over his household.
Let me mention the downside of that for a moment. The Bible teaches that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. The person who fails to perform the kind of ministry gift that God has given is going to come up lacking in the day of judgment. On the other hand, Jesus says that the person who is faithful and wise is the person that God is looking for to be an administrator in His great kingdom when He comes to rule and reign. I don’t know what God has in store for us during the millennial reign, but I want to tell you that on the authority of this Word that if you are a faithful and wise steward of what God has given you, He is going to look for you to be a part of the administration in His great kingdom. I believe that is what this says.
He continues, then, to talk about this terrible tragedy of people who lose sight of the fact that the Lord is coming. He talks about people who feel in their heart and say in verse 45 ‘My lord delayeth his coming;’ There are certain kinds of attitudes and certain kinds of activity that begin to take place in a person’s heart when he ceases to look for the Lord to come. One good sign that a person has lost the vision of the soon return of the Lord is he begins to mistreat others. He talks about it like this; they begin to beat the men servants and maidens and to eat and drink and be drunken. The whole attitude is one of carelessness and indifference as to what is really going on in this world when a person loses sight of the coming of the Lord. Another way you could say this is that people have a tendency to backslide and lose their joy, lose their faith, lose their expectancy of the Lord to come. When they start to say in their heart that there is no need to look for the Lord to come, He is delaying His coming. We don’t know if He’ll even come or not, and you start to putting if off to some day way in the future. Jesus says this is dangerous because it starts to create in your own heart something that He will judge, and that is the mistreatment of other people.
He goes on to say in verse 46 that there will be tremendous judgment and punishment upon that kind of person. As a matter of fact, he will be cut in sunder and he will appoint him his portion with unbelievers. Let me say something out of my heart that I believe is based on this verse. I think one of the greatest sins in this world is to wound or afflict or trouble a child of God. One of the reasons it is such a great sin is because it’s a sin against love. Now, if somebody that you don’t know well, you don’t necessarily love them, if they say something mean to you or they mistreat you, you can shrug that off. But if a good brother or sister in the church does that, my how it hurts. If it happens between companions in a family, just a little action or a little word, how it hurts. It is a breach of love. I think that is why Jesus places such a strong premium upon this action because a sin against love of members of the Body of Christ is a dangerous and dreadful kind of thing to perform. You may have been a victim of mistreatment, but one thing for certain, that person who is looking for Jesus to come will certainly want to be sure of how he talks and how he acts to brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus especially, and then to the rest of this world. One good sign that somebody has lost his vision and the urgency of the return of the Lord is when he begins to mistreat others and especially those who are in the household of faith.
Then Jesus uses some illustrations to talk about His coming. In one of them, He rebukes the people because they can discern the times and seasons and the weather, but they can’t discern the fact that the Lord is coming. He is concerned about that because anything can happen in the world in a moment’s time. I think we should be today because as you know in a moment’s time we know where there is storm out in the Pacific Ocean, or if there is one in the Atlantic Ocean or weather patterns that are coming. We are bombarded all the time with information and just think what Jesus would say about all of this instant information if He were living here right now. He might say, ‘You’ve got all these signs and all this information that lets you know it’s going to rain or the sun is going to shine. Why is it you can’t discern the signs of the time of His coming?’ I think we need to renew in our own hearts and in our own thinking just how close it could be and the number of signs that are so evident all around us.
Today the Pastor was preparing one of the television programs for next week that is shown in the early morning and we were talking to two of the brothers from Russia. They were telling us how dangerous it was to preach the gospel before Communism fell, but now how open it is. He said that they are asking us to come into the schools and into the colleges to preach. They have opened the doors everywhere. We can preach in public parks. We can preach anywhere we want to out in the open. He said their big problem is that they need trained people because they’ve had to witness and preach privately and quietly in somebody’s house somebody’s apartment all hidden away until very few people know how to preach out publicly and preach to mass groups and give invitations. He said they need people to do that because there is so much freedom. You know, it was startling to realize that there is more religious freedom right now in Russia than there is in the United States. That ought to be a sign that would trouble our hearts. That ought to be a sign that would drive us to our knees. We can expect now a greater enlargement of attitudes of that sort, that fight against religious freedom, and powers that come and try to take prayer out of everything and religion out of everything. One of these days there will be somebody who will try to pass a law to take In God We Trust off of our money to let the whole world know that we no longer need God.
Jesus is saying in this chapter that you can read the signs of everything else that is coming, especially in the weather, but what about the signs that point to the coming of the Lord? Another thing He talked about was the danger that when some people of the family believed (verses 49-53) that there would be division. Jesus Himself said ‘My coming is like fire and I have a baptism of fire…’ meaning there is going to be fiery persecution and trial upon the church and upon disciples. He said during that time there would be divisions in families and some will accept and some will not and there will be children against parents, brothers against brothers and we have seen that. We have testimonies all around this world and especially in countries that have such a resistance to the gospel and where it has been against the law to preach the gospel, we’ve seen families divided like that. He is saying here ‘I want you to be faithful even in those times, even if your family turns aside.’ Jesus is saying that in the last days you have to take a stand and regardless of if people won’t go along with you, even your family, you still ought to be faithful to the Word of God and faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and faithful to your work for Him in this world.
Finally, in the very last part of this chapter, He uses a very unusual kind of illustration. It is an illustration of our attitude toward the coming of the Lord. He said in verse 58 ‘When you go with your adversary to a magistrate, as you are on the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.’ Now what He is talking about literally in His own time were people who had judgments against others and they took them to court. He is saying it is far better if you settle things out of court and you come to an agreement before you get there because if you take the chance of being brought up before the judge, it may be that the judge will rule in somebody else’s favor and you will be delivered to the officer who will take you and cast you into prison. What was He saying to us and to the church about being ready? He was saying that we better settle everything out of court before you are brought to judgment. Don’t think you can run the risk of taking your chances and say I’ll plead my own case before the judge. Oh no. No such hope of being able to argue your case. The only man I ever knew in the Bible who attempted to do that, he did it quite well and that was Job. He said I wish I could find him and I wish I had a lawyer that would stand between me and God so that I might plead my cause and plead my own case. He knew in his own heart that he had not sinned against God and yet all this trouble was coming upon him and his comforters were gouging him and saying there must be something wrong, something mighty bad for all of this trouble to come upon you. They were spouting out all the popular Jewish theology that if you were good and right you prospered and everything was alright. But if you did some grievous sin then great judgment came upon you. He said I abhor myself and I repent in sackcloth and ashes. No way could even a righteous man like Job stand face-to-face with God when the Lord comes to speak to him. There he saw things very clearly.
Jesus is teaching us if you want to appear before the judge and not be condemned and not be cast out and not be punished, settle your case before you get to court. Settle it now. Be sure that all is prepared and ready and the account is settled so that when you stand before Him it will be without condemnation of disobedience and sin. I like that old song ‘The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago.” How many of you remember the day and the time when you settled your account and you settled it out of court before you came to judgment? Through the blood of Jesus Christ, you took upon your soul that redeeming, cleansing price and tonight you stand free.
Please stand to your feet and worship Him because that account is settled and you don’t have to face judgment with any guilt in your life. Let us praise Him.
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