First Sunday in Advent December 3, 2000
62, 56, 60, 64
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!
Dear Fellow Christians, Dear Fellow Redeemed:
Newborn babies are perhaps the most demanding creatures on the face of the earth. And, of course, it seems that it’s always about 3:00 in the morning when they are most in need of attention. When the baby starts crying, dads, of course, try the possum routine, but Moms aren’t fooled. They can play that game, too. Soon it becomes a contest of who can hold out the longest. It’s kind of silly, though. There’s no way either one of them is going to get any sleep until one of them gets up to see to junior’s needs.
A good night’s sleep is something we all cherish, especially the older we get. In fact, we can’t live unless we have at least some sleep. The message of today’s text is just the opposite. It tells us that if you fall asleep, you might not live. Satan’s goal is to get you and me to fall into the sleep of unbelief, so that when Jesus comes again we won’t be ready to meet Him. That’s what our sermon text is about today. As we await Jesus second coming, let us be aware that….
The Jehovah Witnesses predicted that Christ would return to the earth sometime in 1914. When that didn’t happen, they readjusted their time table and prophesied that he would arrive sometime in the late 1950's. They last predicted that he would return sometime in 1974. Many others have tried to do the same—tried to pin point the exact time and even day of Christ’s second coming. With the new millenium upon us, many are again busy calculating a date for His return.
Jesus makes it clear that we cannot know when he’ll come again. And for that very reason, He warns us, that as far as our faith is concerned, there’s no time to sleep. We are to be alert to the possibility that He might come back at any moment. The uncertainty of the time of His arrival, calls for us to be ever watchful. “WATCH THEREFORE, FOR YOU DO NOT KNOW WHEN THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE IS COMING—IN THE EVENING, AT MIDNIGHT, AT THE CROWING OF THE ROOSTER, OR IN THE MORNING—LEST, COMING SUDDENLY, HE FIND YOU SLEEPING.”
It’s time to be alert! Today the good Master places His hand on your shoulder. He looks in your eyes and asks: “Are you prepared from my coming? Are you being careful to stay out of harm’s way? Are you alert to the fact that Satan is trying to lull your faith to sleep?”
A sure sign that one’s faith is getting drowsy is when one begins to live his life with an attitude of indifference toward Jesus’ return. This is an attitude which is typified by the thought that one has no time for anything else but the affairs of this world. One very remarkable passage in the Bible is the one in which the Savior described the days before the flood. We think of those days as exceptionally wicked, and they were. Yet Jesus, in describing those days, does not say, “They stole, they murdered, they committed adultery,” but he says, “They did eat, they drank, they married, and were given in marriage, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built.”
Just like today, the pre-flood people were busy with the ordinary affairs of life. Just like people now, they were busy earning a living, getting married, raising a family, getting an education, enjoying their free time, planning for their retirements, etc. These things in themselves are not wicked, but to be so interested in them that we neglect our preparation for eternity is extremely wicked. And it is also foolish.
What will it matter if we have a nice home in this world, but lose out on our mansion above? What profit is it to accumulate a fortune in this life, if we are not prepared to receive the treasures of eternal life? What good will it do if we hurry here and travel there if we are not ready to make the journey into the hereafter.
There was once an absent-minded professor who so absorbed in his work that he couldn’t remember anything that wasn’t related to his work. One day his wife said, “Henry now remember we’re moving today. I’m going to put a note in your pocket. Don’t forget.” That night he came home to an empty house. Distraught, he sat on the curb without a clue as to why the house was empty. A young boy walked up to him, and the professor asked him, “Little boy, do you know the people who used to live here?” The boy replied, “Sure, Dad—mother told me you’d forget!” How often don’t we become so absorbed in the things of this world that we—quite literally—forget where we are going!
In view of Christ’s imminent return we need to stay alert so that we are always ready for his coming. We need to watch our words. Our actions. Our attitudes. We need to examine our priorities. Most of all staying alert to Christ’s return means embracing—everyday—the good news that the “THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST … CLEANSES US OF ALL SIN!” (1 John 1:7). When we receive God’s guilt cleansing message into our hearts, it’s like a shot of adrenaline to the soul. The preaching of Christ crucified for awakens and enlivens our faith like nothing else can.
Today Jesus is telling us that it’s not time to sleep. Rather, it’s time to be alert. But Jesus also wants us to know that it’s also a time to be active! In our text Jesus compares Himself to a man away on a long journey. At the time of His departure He instructs His servants to manage His affairs while He is away. He gives ” … authority to His servants, and to each His work, and commands the doorkeeper to watch.”
What’s Jesus’ point? Once again the message is that there is no time to sleep. Not only are we to be alert, but we are also to be busy! We are to be active in doing His work.
In the 1987 NCAA Regional Finals, LSU was leading Indiana by eight points with only a few minutes left in the game. Instead of playing aggressive ball and trying to expand their lead, the LSU players began glancing up at the clock. As a result of this shift in focus, Indiana closed the gap, won the game by one point, and eventually went on the become NCAA champions.
While Jesus does call us to be alert to the fact that time is running out, he has also called us to expend our energies in faithful, active service. We are not to apathetically wait for His return, but to be aggressive in getting His message out.
Once again the Master’s hand rests on your shoulder and mine. Once again He looks at us and asks: “How personally active are you in the cause of the cross?” Have you been busy sharing my saving love with those you know and meet? Or have you been sleeping on the job?
In a world where people are aching to find real direction and purpose in their lives, Christ has blessed us with the privilege of becoming active participants in the most noble cause of all! So many people that you know and I know are spiritually asleep. They do not know Jesus as their personal Savior and friend! They do not know that they are Satan’s walking zombies, dead in their sins and heading for destruction! By sharing what we know of Jesus we can wake people up to the joy of forgiveness and life eternal!
One important way to be active is to spend time praying for the success of our congregation’s Gospel witness. One wonders what great miracles would happen if each of us spent just two minutes a day praying that the Holy Spirit bless our sharing of the Gospel.
There’s no time to sleep. Jesus wants us to be alert for His coming. He wants us to stay active as we await His coming. But finally Jesus wants us to anticipate His coming. That is, He wants us to be filled with joyful anticipation of what will happen when He does finally come back!
Once again Jesus places His strong and caring hand on your shoulder. He comes to you heart to heart, and says: “Trust me. The very best is yet to come. There truly will be a final end to all your weariness, your sadness, your pain and frustration. Be happy, you will see your Christian loved ones again. Your tired body will run, jump, and skip like a child again. And you will be with Me. Always with Me.”
What wonderful anticipation, expectation—what eagerness He creates in our hearts!
It is said that there is a town in the extreme north of Norway where each year, about January 18, the people climb a hill to see the sun rise after long months of night. On that first day nothing more than a thin ray of light is seen; but the people are satisfied, because they know that the days are not far behind when the sun will once again shine in its full strength.
Every time we make the journey up the hill of the cross we receive light to keep our faith and hope in Christ burning bright. The light of God’s Word keeps us spiritually awake as we wait for the day when Jesus will return in the brightness of His full glory! It energizes and empowers us to be active Christians, participating in the great campaign to save souls for eternity. It fills us with awesome anticipation over the fantastic new life that will be ours when Jesus returns. AMEN!
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.