Summary: Parable of the Master of the house rising and shutting the door. The danger of delay.
Please turn in your copy of God¡¯s word to Luke 13 and follow with me as I read verses 25-30.
When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 26Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 30And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
Sunday morning I intended to preach through these verses, but it seemed enough to dwell on the great question, ¡°Are there few that be saved?¡± This hotly debated theological topic dominates many tea house conversations in Jesus¡¯ day. Our Lord agrees that few are saved, yet goes beyond a simple affirmative answer. Like so many responses, Jesus turns the attention to the ones asking the question and puts the spotlight on them. ¡°Strive,¡± he says, ¡°to enter at the narrow gate.¡±
When visiting people I usually hear theological questions that are really smokescreens. That is, they don¡¯t care about yielding control of their lives to Jesus, so they concoct a theological objection: ¡°Where did Cain¡¯s wife come from?¡± or ¡°Was there really a flood?¡± and so on. Usually, when challenged, I change the subject and ask about their prayer life, their quiet time, or their involvement at church. In every case I remember they fall silent. People like to argue. It makes them feel justified. It only sounds like they are arguing with you. In reality they are arguing with themselves and their own guilty conscience.
Jesus addresses them in second person: ¡°you.¡± This makes it personal, specific, not general. He gets in their face. He tells them to ¡°strive¡±, which is the Greek word (¦Á¦Ã¦Ø¦Í¦É¦Æ¦Ï¦Ì¦Á¦É) from which we derive the English word ¡°agonize.¡± To agonize in your service to God, agonize in your effort to love others as yourself, agonize to expand the Kingdom of God is central to your identity as a follower of Jesus Christ. And now to drive home his point, Jesus offers a parable in verses 25-27.
Three elements make up this parable: the house, the master, and the people. The house represents God¡¯s kingdom. The house is open right now. Anyone alive can become a citizen of God¡¯s kingdom, move in to God¡¯s house, by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord, as Savior. One of the last verses in the Bible testifies to this in Revelation 22:17, ¡°and the Spirit and the bride [which is the Church] say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.¡± But the day approaches when the house closes, and none enter.
Next we have the Master, who represents God. The house belongs to God. As a child I often argued with my older sister, Kristi, especially on long road trips when a small back seat confine us for hours on end. We drew lines down the middle, claiming each side as our own. But you know how that ends. Borders were meant to be broken, anyway. She trespassed on my side, taking some valuable space. A fight quickly broke out, preempted with my righteous scream, ¡°Dad, Kristi is on my side.¡± ¡°My¡± side. It never occurred to me that it was not my car. It was dad¡¯s car. I never made a single payment on that care, yet felt some kind of righteous ownership of ¡°my¡± side. That is what we do too often with God¡¯s kingdom. We slice it up and make claims for what belongs to us. But it is the Master¡¯s house, not ours.
Notice what the Master does: he rises. He was sitting, or resting, or eating, or doing whatever Masters do. Suddenly, he rises. This refers to the second coming of Jesus. For over two thousand years he waited, though far from inactive. Abruptly, he rises. Turn with me to I Thessalonians 4:16-17 to see what the Bible says it looks like when the Master rises.
¡°For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.¡±