First Baptist Church of Lafayette, Louisiana


Eternity—Don’t Leave Earth Without Getting Prepared

                                                              (A Study in Luke 12)                     

Press On as Long as You are Here!

Luke 12:35-48

Dr. Steve Horn

August 3, 2008


Text Introduction:  We have been studying Luke 12 for several weeks now.  We have understood that the theme of the Jesus’ teaching in this section is eternity.  He started by indicating the importance of being prepared for eternity.  There is no greater question in life.  Then, we learned that Jesus put a great emphasis on our perspective and priority about material things.  In sum, if it is heaven that really matters, that ought to be evident in our life here on earth.  Today, we come to a final message found in Luke 12.  Lest we think that life on earth does not matter, let’s make sure that we understand that Christ wants us to “press on” here on earth as long as we are here.  Here is a lesson from Jesus that helps us to emphasize our practices here on earth.

Text35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
41 Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?
42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

IntroductionWe must remember that we cannot read verses 35 and following outside of the context of the entirety of Luke 12.  Jesus has been preaching on eternal themes and that has not changed.  He continues to talk about life here on earth, but relates it to eternity.  The way to get at this text is first of all to recognize the imperatives in verse 35 and 36 which then lead into three word pictures for the remaining part of the text. 

The Imperatives:

  1.  Let your waist be girded.
  2. Let your lamps burn.
  3. Be like men who wait for their master.

All three imperatives make the same point.  As long as we live here on earth, we must live in a constant state of readiness.  Whether you want to consider that as a constant state of readiness for the LORD’s return or a constant state of readiness for your death, you must live in a constant state of readiness.  In fact, the grammatical construction of these phrases (imperative of “to be” with accompanying participles) serve to indicate the durative or continuing nature of the command.[1]  There ought to never be a time when the waist is not girded, the lamps are not burning, or the servant is not ready for the return.  In our contemporary culture, an analogy might be the baby sitter waiting for the parents to return.

The Word Pictures:  Immediately following the imperatives in verses 35 and 36, Jesus gives 3 word pictures of readiness.[2]

  1.  Servant waiting for a master to return from a wedding
  2. Homeowner vigilant against a thief
  3. Faithful servant

Like the imperatives, all of these word picture make the same point:  Live your life in such a way that you are ready for eternity.  Someone called it, “Living life backwards,” meaning to live presently with the future in mind.

It’s the kind of life that can be described as “pressing on” as long as you are here or “staying on point” for all of your life.  The idea of the imperatives and the word pictures is that there is never a time when we are not ready to meet the LORD.

So, how do you “press on” or “stay on point” as long as you are here?  I see three things in our text today.  The imperatives and word pictures say the same thing, yet at the same time build upon one another, thus giving us three keys to “pressing on” as long as we are here.

  1. 1.       There is going to be an accounting.

Why is the servant ready?  Because he knows there is going to be an accounting.  The force of this entire text is that there is going to be an accounting.  In fact, the focus of this text, as it relates to the second coming, is not so much to give us a detail of the LORD’s return, but to cause us to live as though we are certain that He is going to return.  Why must we “press on?”  Because there is going to be an accounting.  Why does it matter how we spend our money or how we spend our time?  Because there is going to be an accounting.

I am not sure why, but I have two dreams that recur often.  Both have to do with my college days.  One dream involves my days as a football player.  We had certain goals that we were supposed to meet as it related to times for running and amounts of weights lifted.  We, of course, trained all year to prepare for the season.  In my dream, the time of reporting for football practice is approaching and I haven’t gotten myself in shape yet.  The other dream involves a French class that I took in college.  In my dream, the Final exam is approaching and I remember that I have forgotten to go to that class for the entire semester.

I don’t know the meaning of those dreams, if any, but I know this:  It is an awful thing to not be prepared.  These words of Jesus force us to recognize that there is a day of accounting that is coming.  Even when we are saved, when our eternity is secure, we ought to live our lives in such a way that we are ready to stand before Him and hear those words, “Blessed is that servant who his master will find so doing when he comes.”  (v. 43)  The words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” are the words we want to hear.

  1. 2.      That accounting is going to be unannounced.

There is a second key to understanding this text.  This idea builds upon the first.  First, there is going to be an accounting.  Second, that accounting is going to be unannounced.  This is seen in the imperatives.  Always have your waist girded ready to run.  Always have the lamps burning.  Always be ready for the master to show up at the door.  This is the reason for the word picture of the thief.  Anybody can get ready for something when you know it is going to happen, but getting ready for something that is unannounced is something entirely different.  Verse 40 puts the exclamation point on this idea:  “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Do you remember that something in school called “pop” tests—unannounced tests by the teacher?  Those were much different from the tests that had a known date.  As believers, we must always be at our station—on point for Christ—because we do not know the time of His return or our death.

On May 19, 1780, the Connecticut Legislature was meeting.  It was an uncertain time.  The war had ended.  The colonies were trying to figure out how to live as a group as one unified nation.  Prices were soaring and taxes were a burden.  On this May afternoon, the sky darkened as never before.  Some quickly surmised that this must be the end of the world.  All were afraid.  Many suggested that they adjourn the assembly and “head for the hills” or at least home.  A certain man named Colonel Abraham Davenport, a Christian rose to speak.  Here is what he said, “I am against adjournment.  The day of judgment is either approaching or it is not.  If it is not, there is not cause for adjournment.  If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.  Therefore I wish that candles be brought {in} and we proceed with business.” 

How do you live with eternity in view?  You do whatever it is that God has called you to do.  You do that something well.  You never quit.  You do it for the glory of God.  Then, one day, when He takes you home, you will be found doing your duty.

It is about St. Francis that the probably legendary story is told that while weeding his garden his visitor asked, “What would you do if you knew the world would end tomorrow?”  St. Francis is said to have replied, “I would finish weeding the garden.”

  1. 3.      That unannounced accounting is going to be according to what you have been given.

Jesus made a final point when asked by Peter, as recorded in verse 41, “Lord, do you speak this parable only to us, or to all people?”  Jesus had one final story to take His teaching another step.  The accounting, which again is unannounced, is going to be according to what one has been given.  I am not sure that we will ever be able to understand all of the implications of what Jesus said here.  However, we know that not all have the same amount of resources or talent.  Our accounting is going to be relative to what we have been given as stewards.  This is the obvious implication.  There is another implication.  There is not one person with any excuse.  All have been given something.  All have something for which they need to be responsible to do.

I’m sure most everybody here has heard the poem “The Dash.”  However, hear it again as we close today.

The Dash Poem

by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And he spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

[1] Some say perfect imperative.  Gerald Stevens calls this possibly a periphrastic construction—the writer is talking around the subject.  Regardless, the effect is the same—continuing nature of these actions.

[2] Some might say parables, but they don’t seem to be as involved as the other parables of Jesus.

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