It’s called in our culture a “sea-change,” an idiom first introduced by Shakespeare in his play, The Tempest.
A cultural cliché that refers to “a substantial or significant transformation.” A sea-change.
As you will hear in this PODCAST, here in Luke 12, we are about to witness a sea-change. A substantial or significant transformation in the focus of Jesus’ ministry and message.
Jesus’ words were for the disciples sadly stunning. For them, these words represented the death of a dream.
Yet, for us today, they embody the birth of a dream, our most glorious dream, our greatest hope.
Something to which the New Testament refers as our blessed hope.
The hope that we treasure. The promise of God that represents the only semblance of common sense that remains in this otherwise outrageously, absurdly nonsensical world of ours.
Spoiler Alert: You are in for copious amounts of encouragement.
Let’s begin by reading Luke 12: 34 and 40 as bookends,
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…
…You must be ready, because of the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.
In-between those two bookends are two prophetic parables, which we will discuss.
With all of the troubling things going on in the world, there is a new day coming. This is a day that many of us long for, depending upon if our treasure is in the right place. In Psalm 50 it is declared,
Our God comes and will not be silent.
There will be a lot for Him to say when He comes to this world. There is a new day coming, one in which, according to what Jesus said in Matthew 19,
The Son of Man will sit upon his glorious throne.
I long for that. There will be no corruptions and no scandals, only honesty and integrity within a world ruled in righteousness. As God declared in Isaiah 65,
See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
As much as there is in this world to celebrate and love, it is merely a shadow compared to what is coming, to the point where we will not even think about it anymore.
There is a new day coming, one of worldwide peace. During this new day, according to Isaiah 2,
The Lord will mediate between nations.
There will be worldwide peace. There will be no need for a United Nations or a secretary of state, for the Lord Himself will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation or train for war anymore.
There is a new day coming. A day of tender innocence, described in Isaiah 11 as
A day in which the wolf and the lamb will lie together. The leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.
There will be no predators or predatory behaviors in the animal and the human world, where too many humans act like predatory animals. Our children and grandchildren will be able to play with lions.
There is a new day coming, one in which, according Isaiah 51,
The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins: He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
There is a new day coming, according Revelation 20, in which
Satan will not deceive the nations anymore.
There is a new day coming, according Revelation 21, in which
God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
God will be with us in a way that we can see, in a way that we can approach, and in a way that we can touch, with no distance between us whatsoever.
There is a new day coming, one in which according to Revelation 21
Nothing evil will be allowed to enter our world or our lives.
Also according to Revelation 21, a new day is coming in which
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
There is a new day coming, one in which, according to Revelation 22
No longer will there be a curse upon anything.
There is a new day coming, according to Revelation 22, where Jesus says
Let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
This is an open invitation from Jesus, for any of us to come.
There is a new day coming one in which we pray for everyday. It is the way the Bible ends, in Revelation 22
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but that is a day for which I long.
There is a new day coming, one in which Jesus says, in Revelation 22
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
It is with those words ringing in our ears that we complete our Bible. This promise closes the Bible and was first made by Jesus in Luke 12:40.
“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
As I said before, this is a sea-change. There has been a significant transformation in the focus of Jesus message and his ministry.
All this comes down to one question: what do we treasure?
As you can tell from the passages I have read and my response towards them, I treasure the promise that the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. Frankly, it’s the only semblance of common sense that remains in this absurd world of ours.
A man who knew He was soon going to exit the stage made that promise. Having left His heavenly home to come here, Jesus knew He must soon return. His mission was coming to a climax and He was about to pass a baton to his disciples whom would carry on his message and his ministry. Jesus was a man who knew He was about to be killed. Knowing that He was weeks away from his crucifixion, Jesus promised that He would return at an hour that we will not expect.
This was an incredibly substantial and significant sea-change in Jesus message to the disciples who heard it. The disciples were a long way away from the beginning of Jesus ministry, in Matthew 4,
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
At that time the kingdom was near, but after what had transpired over the previous three years, the kingdom would be delayed indefinitely. The king was about to make a not very discreet exit from this world. The king was going to leave, and before He did, He gave his disciples that they frankly did not understand. However, we certainly can.
That promise was and is that the Son of Man is coming at a time you do not expect. This was a radical adjustment to his message, a sea-change of staggering proportions. Immediately after Jesus declared his promise, Peter immediately blurted out, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?” The answer, of course, was both; it was both for them and the world.
His disciples were confused. “The Son of Man coming at a time we do not expect?” “What does that mean?” “He is right here in front of us talking!” They had anticipated that when Jesus went into Jerusalem He would be honored as a king and establish a new kingdom.
It puzzled them, but it need not puzzle us. Unlike the disciples, we have the entire New Testament to fill in the blanks.
There is embedded within Jesus promise, a doctrine that will clear much confusion and is a transformative, theological concept. Theologians refer to this doctrine as imminence.
That brings up the question, “How ready are we?”
According to the doctrine of imminence, Jesus will come without warning. Nothing has to happen first. We must simply wait and be ready.
This is what is called in the Bible our blessed hope. It counteracts all the grief we go through in the world.
There is a theological debate that has been raging for 2000 years about the timing of Jesus return. There are two sides, one that favors pre-tribulation and another that favors post-tribulation. However, this is not a matter of debate. It is a question that is moot. Please do not let anyone tell you that something has to happen first before Jesus comes back. He could come back at any time. If something does have to happen first, such as going through the seven years of tribulation, then his return is not imminent. We are actively waiting and actively ready.
This is still under the umbrella of the question “What do we treasure?” The disciples treasured political power and influence. They were ready and waiting for a literal kingdom and hoped that Jesus would provide a solution to the Roman occupation that tormented their lives. The spirits of the disciples rose or fell, dependant upon the polls. When Jesus was welcomed by a crowd their spirits soared, but when the crowd turned against Him, their spirits plummeted. All they waited for and wanted was for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem to the accolades of the crowds and remove the Romans.
Jesus had some very sobering news for them. The kingdom was, by and large, not wanted. The people rejected His kingdom and they wanted to kill the King. The disciples had a very misplaced treasure. Their hope was political and they mourned that right before their eyes, their country was falling apart. Jesus told them that their kingdom would come, but later, after his death. The conflict between the wanting utopia now, to solve current day issues and the hope that we place in Christ’s promise has afflicted Christ followers since the beginning of Christianity. To address this conflict, Paul said in Colossians 3,
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
We must remember that our home is in heaven. We are merely visiting earth. This is temporary and this is not where the focus is.
All of this is wrapped up in the doctrine of imminence. We must have our bags packed, and be ready to leave at a moments notice.
As stated at the beginning of this lesson, there are two parables that Jesus gave to describe the doctrine of imminence. When Jesus gave these parables and his promise, He was in Perea, beyond the Jordan River, exiled from both Jerusalem and Galilee. Later, Jesus would enter Jerusalem for one week and be crucified. It was a time of unmitigated for the disciples and Jesus of unmitigated despair.
The first parable begins with these words.
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.
The cultural equivalent of that would be to have your bags packed, prepared to leave as soon as possible. You will be leaving at a moments notice, and you must be ready. Do we live like this? Do we think everyday, ‘Today could be the day.’ If this thought is foreign from our thinking, it is no wonder so many of us is filled so much despair.
In this parable, the picture is your master is away at a wedding, which could last weeks in those times, and you don’t know when He will come back. You must be ready for whenever He returns and wait for an unspecified period of time.
The parable continues:
The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
This means that there will be a very special reward reserves only for those who are ready and do wait. This is not only for those who are alive when Jesus returns, it is for all of those, dead or alive, who were ready and waiting while they were alive. It is the very reward Paul talks about when he gives his valedictory in 2 Timothy 4,
“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”
Now there is also what Jesus has said about the reward.
“The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!”
Jesus is referring to Himself in this statement. This is a picture of the God who became a man, the master who became a slave. This is not only the doctrine of imminence; it is the doctrine of the incarnation. This exactly what Jesus did, and what He will do when he return. As Paul stated in Philippians 2
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather, he made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
This is a reminder that the first thing He will do is to serve us, when we are His slaves. Jesus ended His life as a servant, washing the feet of His disciples after the Last Supper. That is how He left Earth, and that is how He’ll return. God, who became a man, is now a master who will become a slave.
When Jesus said, “He may come in the middle of the night.” He is explaining how he will come at the point in time when the world seems the darkest and when life seems the most hopeless. Don’t despair, because as seemingly endless as our night may seem, we don’t lose, lose hope, and we don’t lose heart because we are continuously waiting.
Is that you? Is that me?
During the second parable, Jesus says
“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.”
Whenever someone gives you a date of the day he was going to come, you know he is wrong because of this parable. If we were to know when he was to come, it would take the edge off and we would become spiritually lethargic. The temptation would become overwhelming to live like a hellion, because I could quote 1 John 1:9 on the day before he returns.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
However, as Jesus said in Revelation 3
“I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
We know that he is coming back; we just don’t know when and that is the way it should be.
What do we do in the meantime?
As the cold night of this troubled world of ours grows colder and the darkness grows deeper, we do exactly what Paul told us to do in Titus 2,
We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
That is imminence.
What do we do in the meantime?
We do exactly what John told us to do in 1 John 3,
“He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.”
What do we do in the meantime?
We do exactly what Peter told us to do in 2 Peter 3
“We are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.”
So, dear friends, while you are waiting for his return to occur, make every effort to lead peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight and remember that our Lord’s patience gives us time to be saved.
Why he is waiting? To give more people time to be saved. However, he won’t wait forever.
What do we do in the meantime?
We do what Jesus told us to do Luke 12:40
“You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”