Summary: The Sermon explores what it means to be truly ready for Jesus, in this life and being prepared for His return. Living a Christian life is more than talking about religion, we have to “walk the walk;” we need to be spiritually ready. Three messages o

Are You Ready for Jesus?

Matthew 24:36-44; 25:1-13

Stephen H. Becker, M.Div.

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church

1st Sunday in Advent; December 2, 2007

I once saw a story on the evening news where a photographer was also a skydiver, and he jumped with a number of skydivers from a plane to videotape the dive, filming the group as they each individually dove out of the plane and opened their parachutes. As the video was being shown of each member of the crew jumping out and then pulling their rip chord so that their parachute opened to the wind, the final skydiver opened his chute and then the picture from the cameraman shot went berserk. (pause) The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without a parachute. It wasn’t until he reached for the ripcord that he realized he was free falling without a parachute. Up until then, he was enjoying himself and was absorbed in what he was doing. But tragically, he was unprepared for the jump. It didn’t matter how many times he had done it before or what skill he had. But by forgetting the parachute today he made a foolish—and deadly—mistake. Nothing could save him, because his faith was in a parachute which he had never taken the trouble to buckle on.

Granted, this story sounds funny, but it is tragically true. And it’s a story not unlike the parable we read a moment ago here in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus told about the foolish bridesmaids forgetting to bring something very important and necessary. Like the bridesmaids, the photographer was not ready. He was unprepared. It would do no good to try and borrow a parachute of someone else on their way to meet the ground. He was not prepared and he passed the point of no return. And he had to pay with his life for this deadly mistake. Let’s pray…

Jesus’ parables are timeless. They taught important lessons 2,000 years ago, and they continue to teach us equally as important messages today. The first message in today’s lesson is, we must be spiritually ready for His return. If there is one thing that Jesus consistently and continually preached it was that we need to be ready. Over and over again we hear him say, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44). Remember without Jesus, we are lost. Without Jesus, we are freefalling without a parachute, on a collision course the ground that’s going to kill us. So what do we need to do to be ready? Well, listen on…

We in this culture try to live as though there is no tomorrow. Our finances reflect this. The way we eat and treat our bodies reflect this. And certainly the moral lives of some Americans reflect this. One of my great concerns for our country, and even within the Christian church, is the great moral disconnect between personal faith and ethical / moral behavior. Many people in the Christian church, as well as outside of it, seem to have lost their conscience or the ability to respond to it. A few weeks ago we talked about the Eastern spiritual paganism that has crept into our society. Two weeks ago we looked at the ethics of many people, especially as it relates to their job…whether they work to survive or whether they accept Jesus as their means of life. See, the whole message of Jesus’ warnings to be ready had to do with preparation. Being ready meant actively living in faithfulness to God. And that’s more than just calling yourself a Christian.

I heard a story once of a guy once who had an emergency and needed his suit dry cleaned before he left on a business trip. He remembered one store with a huge sign, “One-Hour Dry Cleaners.” It was on the other side of town, so he drove across town to drop off his suit. After the clerk filled out the necessary information, he told her, “I have some errands to run but I’ll be back in an hour to pick it up.” She said, “I can’t get this back to you before next Thursday.” “Well wait a minute,” he said, “I thought you did dry cleaning in an hour,” “Oh, no,” she replied, “That’s just the name of the store, we don’t actually do that.” And unfortunately there are many folks today who wear a sign saying they are a Christian, but then they fail to deliver the goods.

If there is one thing I could get across to every Christian here in America it would be Jesus’ message of Spiritual readiness! Preparation for Christ’s return and growth in our faith does not just happen by itself. It comes as a result of intentional habits built into one’s life. You can’t depend on a Sunday morning service to provide all your spiritual needs. You can’t depend on Christian fellowship to provide you with spiritual development. It comes through by practice, by living what we preach, by keeping our eye on the ball, by keeping our eye on the Light of Jesus. Some weeks ago I talked about the spiritual disciplines as those means of being spiritually ready…those means of getting used to living a Christian life, making Christian ethics a natural, normal part of your. Being prepared comes by taking time for prayer and being alone with God, by reading God’s Word, by acts of service to others, by moral faithfulness and loving obedience to God. It comes through spending time with other Christians for mutual prayer, study, encouragement, and or course worship of our glorious God. These are the things which enable a person to grow in Christ and be spiritually prepared for His coming, as well as helping us to be prepared for the normal difficulties of everyday life here in this fallen world. Without these things you will not be prepared. And you know, it can’t be hit and miss. It can’t be postponed. You cannot procrastinate—or it may be too late. You need to develop some holy habits in your life which take precedence over other interests and claims on your life. As these habits become developed, they cease to be a struggle and begin to be a source of strength and true blessing to your life. They make your life powerful against the onslaught of the world and of Satan. Being a Christian is like anything else — the harder you work at it, the better it becomes. But it doesn’t just happen by itself.

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