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How to be Ready for the Coming of Christ

A Brief Recap of Sunday: On March 15, 2015 we continued exploring Christ’s teaching in Luke 12. Last week, we saw in Luke 12:22-34 that God’s present care for His children is meant to lead us to freedom from anxiety and a life of radical generosity. This week in Luke 12:35-48, Jesus shifted his focus to explaining how the future return of the Son of Man is meant to affect the present. What I labored to bring out of the text was the following:
Jesus is coming with incomprehensible blessings for those who are ready and unimaginable judgment for those who are not. So be ready!
We then explored this idea with three questions:
  1. What does it mean to be ready?
  2. What are the reasons to be ready?
  3. How do I get ready if I’m not?
What Does it Mean to Be Ready?
Luke 12:40 says “You also must be ready for the Son is coming at an hour you do not expect.” But what does that mean and to whom does it apply (Luke 12:41)? In the sermon, I gave several reasons for why it is best to understand this parable as about disciples and for disciples. This is a parable about Christian discipleship! Having established this premise, the teaching of the parable becomes clear.
Being ready for the Lord’s return = actively doing our Lord’s will. I offered the following observations from our text to sharpen our view of what that means.
  1. The ready disciple is CONTINUALLY doing our Lord’s will (Luke 12:35, 37). Christian readiness is primarily concerned with doing the Lord’s will today. Not contenting itself with yesterday’s obedience, or pushing obedience off until tomorrow.
  2. The ready disciple is SACRIFICIALLY doing our Lord’s will (Luke 12:35, 38). I suggested that sacrificial obedience means regularly sacrificing what YOU want to do for the sake of serving Jesus. My diagnostic question was: does the service you render to the Lord ever feel hard enough that it requires you to trust God in faith or to stand on the promises in Lk 12:22-34?
  3. The ready disciple is INTENTIONALLY doing our Lord’s will (Luke 12:42-43). The intentional disciple doesn’t blame others or his/her circumstances for the ineffectiveness of their service but is constantly looking to him/herself to increase effectiveness. The idea is not that we do everything perfectly but that we work hard to do the best job we possibly can.
Application: How might the promises of Lamentations 3:22-24 and Luke 15:11-32 fuel a life of continual discipleship? Jesus understood (first-hand) that living a life of sacrificial obedience was stressful (Luke 12:50), painful (Luke 22:44) and often accompanied by great sorrow (Luke 19:41). How might reminding yourself that Jesus has walked this path before you, serve as a source of comfort as you strive to be ready for the Lord’ return (Hebrews 4:14-16)? Are their things that God has commanded you to do, that you could be doing with greater wisdom and faithfulness? What hinders you from being more intentional? What effect, if any, does considering this command to readiness have on those hindrances?
Reasons to Be Ready
  1. His arrival will be unexpected (Luke 12:39-40). Thus we should fear being found unready.
  2. His arrival will bring incomprehensible blessings for those who are ready (Luke 12:37, 44).
  3. His arrival will bring unimaginable judgment for those are not (Luke 12:45-48)
Application: When you think about the reward for readiness at Jesus’ second coming, do you find it arousing your heart to a greater obedience? Answer honestly. How might the images found in Luke 12:37; Psalm 16:11 (hint: forevermore = limitless in splendor and unending in perpetuity)[1] and Revelation 22:5 increase the anticipation of your heart? Why do you think Jesus describes judgment so vividly in Luke 12:46? How does the vividness of that picture affect our life in the present?
How To Get Ready
  1. Act on what you know (Lk 12:48b).The servants were blessed and cursed based on how they responded to what they knew. We have looked together at what Jesus has taught concerning loving one’s neighbor (Lk 11:25-37), loving God (Lk 11:38-42), prayer (Lk 11:1-13), evangelism (Lk 11:14-33; 12:1-12), and sacrificial generosity (Lk 12:22-34).
  2. Meditate on the blessings that will be given to the servant found ready at the Lord’s return. I offered this sentence for your daily consideration “If I continually, sacrificially and intentionally pour myself out for the Lord today, He promises to pour Himself out for me for eternity” (Lk 12:37).
  3. Never forget who said these things. It is Jesus our friend who proclaimed these blessings and curses. His life of obedience led him from the shame and suffering of a cross to the joy and glory of a throne. We can look beyond the footsteps of the next trial to the exaltation of the suffering servant and know that our readiness will be worth it!
Application: Are you acting on what you know? If not, how might praying and standing on the promises found in Phil 1:6; Phil 2:13; Rom 8:26-30; 1 Thess 3:12-13; Jude 24 and Eph 5:26-27 help you to fight the fight of faith in the present so that you will be found ready when the Lord returns? Do you have faith in Jesus that the blessings of the next world will far surpass the blessings of this one? How does the gospel help us trust God that these things are true?
Additional Resources
Looking for more ways to strengthen your faith and increase your hope in the present? Check out any of the following:
  1. Widen your view of heaven by reading Heaven is a World of Love by Jonathan Edwards.
  2. Here is a faith-strengthening hymn by Isaac Watts entitled There Is A Land of Pure Delight. See also Absent from Flesh by Sojourn Music!
  3. For more discussion on the role of works at the final judgment, here is a great sermon by John Piper at the desiring God website.
God bless you and keep you as you strive to remain continually, sacrificially and intentionally prepared for Jesus’ glorious return!
[1] nāṣaḥ denotes both “brilliance” (yielding the connotations “preeminence, surpassing, glory, victory, leadership”) and “endurance” (supplying “longlasting, perpetual”). Milton C. Fisher, “1402 נָצַח,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 593.

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