Summary: Sermon on the right preparation for the second coming of Christ.
When I was a kid, I usually looked eagerly forward to the evening, when my Dad would come home from work. I loved my Dad, and it was the highlight of the day when he came home and I got to see him. My Dad could also be strict with me sometimes, however, and if I knew that I had done something I was not allowed to do, I was not always as eager to meet my Dad. On one occasion, when I had done something really bad, I actually decided that I did not want to see my Dad at all. So when he walked down into the basement, I seized the opportunity, and locked the door behind him, thinking that now I would not have to face him. Needless to say, this was not a very wise plan. My Dad did eventually get out of the basement, and he was not amused.
Our Savior Jesus Christ promises us in the text for today that he will come again, and he wants us to be ready. Like little children are running into their father’s arms, when their conscience is clean, so can we receive Jesus with joy, if we are ready for his return.
For those who believe in Jesus, this is a day they can look forward to with joy and expectation. It is the day when everything we have believed in without seeing, will become visible and manifest.
But many people do not think of the second coming of Christ as something joyful. I have heard many Christians tell me how they lived in constant fear of the second coming of Christ. They could not sleep at night because they did not know whether they were ready to meet Jesus when he came again.
Unfortunately, many preachers have fed into this fear by preaching about the second coming of Christ in a scary way. It appears that they believe they can threaten people into becoming Christians if they remind them that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.
But in the Bible, it is not like that. Neither Jesus nor the apostles tried to scare people to faith by threatening them with Jesus’ second coming. When they invited someone to receive Jesus, they did it by describing salvation in Jesus Christ and the love that he has showed us in that he, who was God, became a human being like you and me so that we could have fellowship with him.
When Jesus talks about his second coming, it is in order to encourage those who already believe in him. It is to tell them that all the promises that he has given them will one day be fulfilled in a visible way.
The text for today contains one of the most beautiful images I know regarding what is going to happen when Jesus comes again: “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 have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them” (Luke 12:38 TNIV).
Have you ever experienced that you showed up for work and your boss met you at the door and said: today, I have decided that I will do your job. Instead you can go over to the golf course and play some golf. Here, why don’t you take my car keys.
I think it sounded just as unbelievable when Jesus told his disciples this parable. When the master comes and he finds his servants watching, the master would dress himself and start to wait on his servants. This is just not the way things work. It would be the servants who would have to wait on the master, just like Jesus says on another instance:
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10 TNIV.)
But when Jesus comes again, it will be different. Then it is the master who will be waiting on his servants. Then God’s own son will wrap his apron around him and be the servant of those who have been expecting him.
At the same time, Jesus tells his disciples about his second coming because he wants them to be ready. He tells them several parables where he explains that it may take a while before he comes again. And already at the time of the New Testament, there were some people who made fun of Christians because they were walking around waiting for the second coming of Christ. The apostle Peter was familiar with this situation.