About a month ago, I noticed one day that a Tornado Watch was issued for most of Southeast Missouri. I did not think much of it at the time because I have found that Tornado Watches are very common in Southeast Missouri. Later that night, when the wind began to blow very hard, I quickly turned on KFVS and I was not surprised to see Bob Reeves tracking tornadoes. He said there was a Tornado Warning north of Scott City and one south of Scott City.
I watched with thankfulness that a Warning was not issued for Scott City, but suddenly a Tornado Warning was issued for Scott City and it was due to pass over in one minute. Even though the Watch had been previously issued, this particular Warning was unexpected. We had one minute’s notice, we were not prepared, it was night time, our children were asleep, and we were getting ready for bed. We were thankful that no tornado touched down in Scott City, but I could not help but think about how Tornado Watches and Warnings are issued. A Watch means that the conditions are favorable and you should get ready and be watchful for the possibility. A Warning, however, means that the time for preparation is over; it is time to seek shelter immediately.
In order to help us understand our topic this morning, I think it is helpful to remember the difference between watches and warnings. Jesus told His followers that He shall return at an unexpected time. In essence, a Watch has been issued by our Lord Jesus. The conditions are favorable and we should get ready and be watchful for His return. In our passage this morning (Luke 12:35-48) we are told that those who are watching are ready and they shall be blessed. We are also told that those who are not watching are not ready and they shall be beaten.
The Blessed Ones
In verse 35, Jesus instructs His followers to “stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning.” This indicates one who is not waiting until the last moment, but is ready at a moment’s notice. He further says they should “be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks” (36). Just as a master returning from a trip would expect to be served by his servants when He arrived, Jesus uses this parable to illustrate that the follower of Christ be watchful for His return.
In verses 37-38 Jesus says those servants who are awake when the master comes shall be blessed and, rather unexpectedly, the master “will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.” Jesus takes the parable further than usual custom and speaks of the servants being blessed by the master as He cares for them. Verses 39-40 stress the importance of being ready at a moment’s notice. He uses the example of a thief unexpectedly appearing (39) and in verse 40 explicitly restates His main point that Christians must be ready for His return because it is coming “at an hour you do not expect.”
Peter asked Jesus if this parable was for the disciples or for anyone else (41), Jesus’ reply shows that He is talking to everyone. He says that everyone has been entrusted with service and everyone is required to be a “faithful and wise manager” (42) with what they have been entrusted. This faithful and wise manager is the one who is faithful “to give them their portion of food at the proper time” (42). In other words, he faithfully carries out the responsibilities he has been given and “is…so doing when [the master] comes” (43). Jesus says that this faithful manager/servant will be blessed and rewarded because the master “will set him over all his possessions” (44). It is understood in this parable that the faithfulness of the servant is fueled by love for his master. Blessing is promised to the one who is watchful, is ready, and working.
The Beaten Ones
Continuing to use the imagery in the parable to make His point, Jesus says that the servant who is not ready and is not working is one who “says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming’” and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk” (45). This manager has no love for his master and instead of caring for what he has, he misuses and mistreats it. He uses what he has been entrusted with for selfish gain. Jesus says, “the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him into pieces and put him with the unfaithful” (46). The master returns and punishes the disobedience of the servant. Jesus then says “that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating” (47). He then says, “the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating” (48). The point being that all unfaithfulness and disobedience will be punished. The severity, we are told, is based on how much was given to them: “everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (48).
Christians have not been told when the Lord Jesus Christ will return, but have been told to be watchful. What does it mean to be watchful? Verse 47 tells us to be ready and act according to the master’s will. In other words, we are to be ready and working. This is best explained by Ephesians 2:8-10:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We become ready when we receive salvation. God’s grace is granted to us, not because of our own good works, but as a gift to be received by faith. When we receive this gift of salvation, we are put to work in the kingdom and are to continue to work until we are called to Christ.
If you are not watchful, do not dismiss the Watch that has been issued because you may find that the Warning will come unexpectedly and you are not ready. Repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.