Ready To Serve / Luke 12:35-40 NIV
”Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants 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. It will be good for those servants whose master finds themwatching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds themready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 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. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Luke 12:35-40 NIV
Key Words: (Form a cross to help us remember!)
Top of the cross - Be ready (3 times). Not something that we can decide at the last minute. Must be an attitude of how we live our lives. Every day - if we are Christians - we say to ourselves two things: (1) Today Jesus could return. (2) Am I ready for him to return? Am I living my life in a way that would please him? If he physically walked into my life right now, would I be ready? This is not something we just say. It’s a way of life. Ready for our Master’s return. Which leads us to the cross beam.
____________, ____________, and ____________
Cross beam - (8 times). We cannot read this passage without grasping the basic concept of serving. We are the servants. Jesus is the master. This simple truth will profoundly change our lives - both the direction our lives take and the joy our living provides us. Our direction will change because when we realize we are the servants and not the masters, then our task becomes the ones our master gives us. (Which tasks? Read all about it in the Bible!) Our joy will change because now we were created to serve Christ. It’s what we were made to do. When we figure that out and figure out the best way to serve, our lives are filled with joy! Nothing is more joyous! Nothing is more stress-free. When we get this turned around and selfishly see ourselves as the master, we become stressed out - because we cannot do what we attempt. We are not the masters. We cannot control everything. Our plans go bad. Our attempts to serve ourselves only leave us wanting, wanting, wanting but never satisfied.
Center of the Cross - (keep your lamps burning - v. 35). This one is easy to miss, but it’s not only a key word in this Scripture, it’s a key concept to the Christian life. Keep on keeping on. Don’t quit. Don’t tire of living the servant life of a Christ-follower. Don’t get bored with it. Don’t become engrossed in anything that takes you away from the Christian life. Consistency. It’s not fancy. Not thrilling. Not inspiring. Just the doing of every day what you know God has called you to do. Faithfulness. It is the center of the cross and the center of our Christian faith!
Foot of the Cross - (They or them 5x + every you/your is plural.) This one is tough for us because of our culture. As Americans, we are individualists. When we read our Bibles, we tend to look at everything as if it is directed to us individually. I am only responsible for myself and my own behavior. My faith is my own. My decision to follow Christ. My choice as to go to church or not. But that is NOT Christianity. Our faith is a community faith. This passage is addressed to “us” not to me. Servants is always plural. Each you or your is alway plural. They / them is plural. We live out this command to be ready, to serve, to keep on keeping on TOGETHER! When we attempt to live out the instructions and ethics of our Christian faith individually… by ourselves… we will ALWAYS fail. We do this together or not at all! (That’s why BTW, why church is so important! - We are not “Lone Ranger” Christians!) It is the feet of the cross because we carry our faith, our needs, our failures and our successes to one another. Our togetherness is the feet of our faith!
The Foundation of the Cross - (Watching v. 37). This foundational word brings this entire passage together. We are not just Christians. We are to be “watching” Christians. (1)Verb - meaning movement, the acting part of a sentence and the acting part of our lives. (2)Present tense verb - meaning what am I doing NOW? How am I living NOW? How am I watching NOW? Yesterday’s Christian proclamations or tomorrow’s Christian intents is not as important as today’s Christian watching! (3)Active Present Tense Verb - not passive. We cannot live off of someone else’s Christianity. Spouse. Mom. Dad. Our faith must be active and it must be our own. (4)Active Present Tense Verb PARTICIPLE - the “ing” ending of a verb. Not just watch now. Not just watch in the past. Not just watch in the future. But “watching.” Continuous. Watch and keep on watching. (5)Active Present Tense Verb Participle PLURAL -This is why it is so important we do this as a community. Think of it as a military unit in enemy territory. Someone always is on watch so that the community is always watching.
How do we do this? 2 Ways We Do This…
#1 - Preparation __________ = Ready to serve _________ .
“Ahead of time” action always beats the best of late intentions. We have to be SO INTENTIONAL that we are willing to plan, work ahead, think ahead. It means making a present day sacrifice so we will be READY, so we will be PREPARED, so we CAN SERVE tomorrow, whenever we are called on by our Lord. We don’t want to be unprepared. We don’t want to be unready.
Why this matters so much is because it involves action on our part. Not just intentions or thinking or attitude. We may “SAY” we are ready for Christ to return… but are we? Have we thought through this very day to ask ourselves if Christ came right now, would we be ready? Have we done all that we can do to prepare ourselves, our neighbors, our families, our church for His return?
Not just intention and action, but a concrete reality that Jesus is coming back again and soon and we want to be ready / prepared for Him.What about you today? Do you have intent and action today based on the concrete reality of Christ’s return tomorrow?
#2 - Preparation ____________ = Ready to serve _________ .
One more “how to” piece of advice. This Scripture is filled with community. So let’s not attempt to be prepared ahead of time ON OUR OWN. Let’s do this IN COMMUNITY. It’s the way God intends for us to live out our faith - together! That’s where the joy is found! Let’s act together. Let’s build our faith together. Let’s prepare and ready ourselves together. That’s where our joy will come from too!
Our most amazing promise:
Those who live their lives prepared and ready to serve …
“Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.” Luke 12:37b
This is a promise for us to live for! … to live toward! The Master Himself will serve! Can you begin to fathom what this will mean? He will serve us? We will recline at His table. The Master will wait on us! Incredible!
2 quick thoughts before we end:
(1) This is not at all out of character for Jesus. It’s just Who He is. He is One Who serves. His ultimate service was His sacrifice on the cross for us. When we are servants waiting for His return, we literally are taking on His character - to serve others just like He has Himself served us.
(2) You’ve heard the phrase “the last shall be first and the first shall be last?” Actually these are also Jesus’ words from Matthew 19 and 20. We could apply this last-first-first-last principle also to our life of serving preparedness. We can serve others now, always preparing ourselves for Jesus’ coming back at any moment. If so we will be served later by Jesus Himself, when He returns. He promises us! Or we can choose looking out for #1 selfishness, aloneness, living each day to our own maximum gain - getting all the gusto! But if so, we risk losing out the greatest feast of all time, served up by The King of King and Lord of Lords. The choice is ours now. Which will you choose this day?
Brandi will come and lead us in communion.