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Gospel according to Luke 12: 32-40 (NIV)
[Jesus continued,] 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 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. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will make them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or towards daybreak. 39 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. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Verse 40 commands us to be ready. Why? Because the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. What does this mean? Jesus was not then referring to his post-resurrection appearances. When the Son of Man returns at the end of time on earth to judge both the living and the dead, everyone will know about it. It will be evident to all, bringing rejoicing and terror!
The Apostle Paul wrote (1 Thessalonians 4: 16): “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, …”
It is clear in the book of Revelation that, when the Son of Man does return, it will be an overwhelming event. John’s vision included seeing that “fire came down from heaven and devoured” the armies of Satan. Jesus’ return will immediately be evident. The force and urgency of the occasion will be violent and remorseless.
John perceived no opportunity for last-minute repentance and turning to God. According to his vision, the Lord will come too quickly for people, at the last minute, to make up their minds to follow him.
To the thousands to whom he was speaking in Luke 12, Jesus issued a warning. His warning continues for all people today: “You also must be ready.” “Keep watch,” wrote Matthew. “Be alert,” wrote Mark. There is urgency in the voices of these Evangelists. Their urgency reflects the urgency of the teaching of Jesus.
His warning applies to each of us. If we have not yet committed our lives to Jesus, we must not assume we will always be given an opportunity to do so. We are not to think that we can procrastinate and today postpone deciding what to do. When the Son of Man returns, he will do so without further warning. If you have not yet committed your life to him, decide now. Commit to Jesus or risk being left out of his presence for evermore!
What then? Metaphorically speaking, we are to be dressed for action, with our lamps lit. We are not to be anxious, intent on storing treasures here; treasures that never fail await us with Jesus.