Hear the Word

“Hear the Word”
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 Luke 12:35-48

Just as God…speaking through Isaiah…told his people to “hear the word”…Jesus told the crowd…and you and me to…”hear the word”. That word…actually three words…”Serve” and”Be ready.”
Jesus spoke often of his return. Paul’s letters are filled with references to Jesus’ return. In the book of Revelations John begins with the warning that every eye will see him.
Jesus told us about the faithful and devoted servant…dressed and prepared for his master’s return from the wedding feast. They were also to keep the light lit. What Jesus was saying was…Don’t give in to fatigue. Don’t display any grouchy irritability. Don’t have an “attitude.”
That is how Jesus’ followers are to wait for him. It is not to be a passive…laid back wait…but one filled with active service to God and all of His creation…continuous preparation…and joyous anticipation.
We will be blessed if we are “ready”…that is, serving and ready to serve…dressed for action with the lights on. Why? Because we are going to sit down at the feast of feasts as guests of the King of kings. Eternity is not a sterile…plastic…basic existence. It is a great feast. It is laughter. It is jubilee and great fellowship…eternally…forever.
Those who are truly ready for Christ’s return are not lolling around quietly…nor are they sitting on the church steps dressed in pure white robes. They are alive and active….serving Christ…serving God’s people and God’s creation.
Isaiah told us of some ways to serve and get ready.
Stop doing wrong, learn to do right.
Seek justice, not just for yourself but for others, also.
Encourage the oppressed and help them become free.
Defend the cause of the fatherless and those without any parent in their lives.
Plead the case of the widow and those who are downtrodden, without support and hope.
How are you serving? Are you ready?
In telling them of the wise homeowner Jesus said…like a burglar…the Son of Man will come at an hour when he is not expected. Paul wrote that he would come like a thief in the night. Peter wrote that the day of the Lord will come like a thief.
The point is…Jesus’ return will be unexpected…and many in the world will not be prepared. The networks will not have their cameras in place in preparation. The world’s leaders will not be prepared to officially greet him with pomp and ceremony. The false religions will not be prepared. But…the truly faithful will be ready because they have heard and obeyed the word. They will be ready because their sleeves are rolled up as they…in some way…labor for Christ.
Jesus could come today. Perhaps he will.
Now…this was electrifying teaching for the disciples. It set their minds reeling. So…Peter asked the question…”Is this parable for us…or for everyone?” Jesus replied that it was for the Twelve…and for everyone who would follow them.
Jesus said the reward would be given to those who are ready…wise…faithful…and serving. The servant who has been faithful in his temporary earthly duties will at the return of Christ be given great permanent authority in the eternal state. We don’t know the exact nature of this authority…but we can be sure that it will be joyous.
Jesus also spoke of the unfaithful and unwise servant…a drunken glutton who beats others…someone who abuses the divine trust… human life…and any part of creation.
Those in Christian leadership can say what they will…use every Christian cliché….hold the Bible like Billy Graham…say “the Bible says” and build a wide following…but if that person consistently behaves in an unchristian way…that person is not a true believer.
Everything will be revealed when Jesus returns…so we must make sure our life matches what we say. Everything will be put right. The real truth will be known at last.
Jesus tells us that in the end true justice will be given. Hear his words. Luke 12:47-48
47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.
48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. (NLT)
Some people…by virtue of their greater knowledge…age…experience…and influence in the church will suffer far greater penalty for the same sin than an ignorant person will.
James rightly warned…”Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1) Isn’t equity at the end of this unfair world a delightful thought? We need to praise God for being the judge whom nothing gets by. Praise him for his true fairness. And…of course…praise him for his grace…our only hope.
Jesus summed it all up in these words: “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. “ (Luke 12:48 NLT) You and I have so much. We have the Word of the Old Testament. Let us hear the word and heed. We have the word of the prophets…like Isaiah. Let us hear their word and heed. We have the word of the covenants. Let us hear the word and heed. We have the word of the New Testament. Let us hear the word and heed.
You and I have the revelation…the gospel of grace…the life and teachings of Jesus…the witness and teaching of the apostles…2,000 years of the church’s testimony. We have abundant preaching. We have Christian education. We have thousands of books. We have a wealth of opportunities. Consequently…much is required of us.
Jesus’ message can be summed up in three words…”Serve” and ”Get ready”. His return is as sure as his incarnation. The second coming of Christ is as certain as the First Advent. He will come when least expected. CNN and Fox will not expect it. Wall Street will have no hint. The nations will have no clue. The world’s religions will disbelieve it. To these…he is coming like a thief in the night.
How can we be ready?
By living a Godly life…that demonstrates the abundant truth God has given us. As Paul wrote to Titus… (Titus 2:11-14)
11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.
12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God,
13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. (NLT)
We can be ready by joyful service. Hear the word of Jesus. Luke 12:35-36
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning,
36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. (NLT)
Let us arise from our comfortable seats…come to the Lord’s Table. Fellowship with Christ…with our sisters and brothers. Be reminded of what Christ has done for us…for you and me…for each of us. Be refreshed by His love and grace.
Then leave this Lord’s Supper…rolling up your sleeves…turning on the lights…serving and getting ready.
Jesus is coming…soon…bringing you the opportunity to dine with him eternally.

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