Summary: Jesus calls us to be ready for his return.A military Officer who goes on to the field of action without his sword is considered not ’properly dressed for action’ so are Christians who venture in to this realm of darkness without having their lamps lit.
Father William Bausch told a story of a boy who one morning had arrived very early at school and waited patiently at the door. Next to arrive was a lady who was surprised that this youngster had arrived so early. "It’s locked" the pupil said as the teacher tried the door. She began to fumble for her keys and the pupil immediately brightened up.
"you’re a teacher!" he said enthusiastically
"How do you know that?" she asked
The boy hesitated for a moment, then said with respect
"Ma’am, you have the key"
The teacher in this story was overwhelmed by that simple statement "you have the key" which got her pondering on her responsibilities as a teacher. Our Lord Jesus Christ was more than a teacher, He is the Truth that set free all that come and wait patiently for his return. Just as the teacher has the key to earthly knowledge so our Lord has the key to eternal life.
Let us however, focus for a minute on the activity of this young boy as it relates to our gospel story. Good things they say comes to those who wait, I’ll like to add at the end of that,’patiently and actively’ This is the message of Jesus to his disciples before the Gethsemane experience. The boy in this story knew the place, sought wisdom and waited patiently ignoring the overwhelming lure to wander away to enjoy the morning run around with his mates. Most importantly, he recognised the presence of the teacher when she arrived.
Jesus said in Luke Chapter 12, verse 35, "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit, be like those waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks" Jesus repeatedly told his disciples that He would leave this world but would return at some future time (Matt 24:29-32, John 14:1-4
Here Jesus told his disciples that he was coming back and also made it clear that a kingdom is being prepared for his followers. Many Greeks envisioned this as a heavenly, idealized spiritual kingdom. Jews like Isaiah and John, the writer of Revelation saw it as a restored earthly kingdom. whichever way we see it today, it is important, like the little boy, to wait patiently at the door for the master to arrive and when he knocks, that slaves are awake to open the door for their master. Paul already likened all christians as ’slaves to Christ’ and so we could expect great reward if the master finds us awake, alert and with our lamps lit.
Here Jesus charges us: ’Be dressed for action and have your lamp lit’ I want to look at this double-barrel sentence in such a way not to gloss over it.
(1) Be dressed for Action:
what does this mean? Today it is difficult to say in just one sentence what this mean. However, in my characteristic manner I look at the Bible for inspiration and to get some help. So far I have only found just two other places in the bible that these words might have been used. In job chapter 40 verse 7 Gid said to Job "Gird up your loins like a man" but earlier translation had it recorded as "dressed for action like a man" now this is significant as God had also addressed Job in the same manner earlier in verse 38 of the same chapter. This was in such a way to warn Job and remind Job of his limited ability to wistand imminent and overwhelming danger.
In the military, commanders and leaders all agree that an officer who goes on to the field of action without his sword is not properly ’dreesed for action’ so when Jesus used this term, it is safe for us to assume that it was as a warning to his disciples of the impending difficult period they will experience ahead of his return.
Jesus did not want his disciples to be caught unawares and consequently be overwhelmed by the experience. He wants it to be a joyful reunion therefore He bids them to be ready, prepared and full of action as they wait patiently for his coming. Just as Job’s trial made him stronger, commanders in the military would test their troops so they could be ready and alert for action, Jesus wants Christians to be ready, tried and tested.
The question this begs basically is how prepared are we?
(2)Have your lamps lit:
Jesus want His disciples to be awake! He wants them to have courage through the night. To have your lamp lit and kept lit requires total concentration and vigilance. It requires total action all the time, so that a Christian that has his lamp lit is an active christian. The bearer of the lamp and hopefully the owner of the lamp must have courage -which helps to combat night fear, motivation - helps to sustain through the long hours of the night, and above all tenacity to stand the test of time. Failure to display these characters may result into weakness of the mind, falling asleep and subsequently, the wind and the dew of the night would inevitably put out the lamp. The consequences of this is that such disciple is not fit and ready to meet the master. Also, Jesus knew the time before his coming would be a testing time, in fact a time of darkness and so it is important that His disciples kept their lamp lit through that period of darkness (test and trial).