Christ the King Sunday
(Last Sunday of the Church Year) November 25, 2007
2 Peter 3:3-14
574, 604, 609, 611(7)
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
[Jesus said], “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?” And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.”
Dear fellow-redeemed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
It is hard to wait. I don’t care if you’re 4 years old or 84 years old, when we really want something to happen it’s hard to wait. If we become impatient and give up on waiting we might deny ourselves something special. How many of you snacked so much before Thanksgiving dinner that you really weren’t hungry by the time the main course finally came around? How many grow tired of waiting to save up for an item and put themselves behind the eight ball by piling up debt? How many do not wait until marriage for physical intimacy and thus deprive themselves of God’s wedding present to them?
In the Word of God before us today the Lord directs our attention to His return on Judgment Day and assures us that it is well worth the wait. While the temptation is to become impatient and give up on His promises, Jesus promises blessings in three different areas of our wait: I. Jesus promises blessings in watching and waiting, II. Jesus promises blessings in not giving up on His promises, III. Jesus promises blessings in being wise and faithful stewards. May the Lord send His Spirit to us that we have the patience and thus the blessings that He intends for us in proper waiting.
There is no way that we could be truly ready and properly prepared for Jesus’ return without the Lord making us so. Jesus has washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb and made us spotless in His sight (cf. Revelation 7:14). He desires for us to remember who we are and where we are going.
In this way we will be anticipating that He is coming back. “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning.” [v.35] The style of dress in those days was a long robe which was not real suitable for traveling or working. If the people were going out on the road they would tuck the lower part of their robes into a belt around their waists, and thus they could move about more freely. Girding their waists was being ready to travel.
The Lord wants us to be ready to travel. Imagine if someone promised that you were going to a great party or would be able to see your family after a long absence. This person said that he would pick you up at a certain time. No doubt you would be ready to go. You would get your coat on and wait by the door. You’d look out the window to see if a car was coming. You would not get in your pajamas and go to bed. In the same way, Jesus tells us that He is coming to get us. He has redeemed you. You have been reconciled to God and are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. He’s coming to get you to take you to that feast. It’s not just any party. It is the feast of victory for our God!
Jesus told us in John 14, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:3). He is the master who is gone to the wedding and we are the servants watching and waiting for His return. He is making all things ready so that we can share in that feast. Amazingly, Jesus speaks of the master serving the servants. [cf. v.37] It’s hard to believe that God would share with us in His victory, but that is exactly what He has promised. Jesus triumphed on the cross so that this heavenly banquet could occur and so that we could join in with Him in this great celebration in heaven.
What a mistake we make as Christians if we become impatient and don’t want to wait for Jesus to come back. We might think that the feast is here and now. When we don’t see our Savior with our eyes, we can put Him on the back burner. In His absence our hearts go wandering. Maybe we become so caught up in our earthly lives that we forget about the invitation altogether. Jesus wants us to live with an eye toward the permanent future, to the true celebration. We live differently not only because our past life of sin has been erased, but also because we have a glorious tomorrow in Him. Our Master assures us, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” [v.37]
It is more difficult to wait the longer that wait is. No one here has been waiting 2000 years for Jesus’ return. It is true, though, that each one of us—no matter what age—has had to wait his entire life for Jesus and He’s still not back yet. Our eyes grow heavy. We may become bored or indifferent or impatient. Because nothing changes we might even give up and focus on other things rather than on our Savior. Jesus promises happiness, though, for those who don’t give up on Him. “And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch [in the middle of the night], and find them so, blessed are those servants. [v.38]
Many things seem to be more important than the return of Jesus, but what a terrible mistake to make if we give up because Jesus is not operating on our timetable. Recall when the Lord promised Abraham that he would have a son. It was not until 25 years later that this promise was fulfilled and in the meantime Abraham, at times, doubted what God had promised. The people of God who waited for the first coming of Christ became impatient, and when He did come they, for the most part, were not ready. All too often we do the same thing. We think that the Lord should operate on our timetable and instantly gratify our needs. This can be particularly true when it comes to His return. But we are not blessed when we give up on God.
Jesus wants us to expect Him at all times. There are many times in life for which we are not prepared—a deer running out in front of our car, a fire, a terrorist attack. There will likewise be those who are not prepared for Jesus to come. They will claim, “I didn’t know that He was coming. Had I known I would have been ready, I would have been watching.”
It is a terribly dangerous thing to set God aside for a period of time. That is gambling with your faith. It is a denial of His promises. Before the Flood came people had 120 years of listening to Noah preach repentance. They could see him building the ark and yet because the sun came up every day they went about their business. The same is true today. People drift away from God because they discover that the first time they skipped church they weren’t struck by lightning. The first time they went out drinking or engaged in immorality they didn’t find that the world had come to an end. The sun came up the next morning. But all the time they were pushing the Son out of their lives. That person will not last until the second or third watch, but will be taken by surprise at His coming and discover that He has disconnected himself from Christ.
Jesus says that we are blessed in not giving up on His promises of forgiveness, of His gracious presence, and the promise of His return. It is worth the wait.
Peter asked Jesus for whom this parable was intended. Jesus’ response is: “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” [vv.42-43] In other words, Jesus’ response was: “Don’t worry about other people. Take this parable and apply it to yourself. You, yourself, get about the work of your Master.”
So it is for each one of us. Jesus is speaking to you, personally. He has given each of you gifts. He has made you a caretaker of His Gospel. He wants you to you use those gifts in His Kingdom while you are watching and waiting. Watching and waiting is not quitting our jobs and finding a hilltop from which we can sit down and watch for His coming. We are to be caretakers of the spiritual gifts that He has given to us, working with those gifts. Jesus has put you on this earth to glorify His name, not to make a name for yourself. He instructs you to be faithful with those gifts.
The misuse of His gifts is not tolerated. “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and maidservants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. [vv.45-46] Do not think for a moment that you can consistently blow Jesus off and then eagerly expect His return. If you venture outside of faith and disconnect yourself from Christ you will have an eternal future so wretched and miserable and painful that you will always, always, regret it. This is a stern warning to take seriously the call for repentance. Do not think that you can be a Christian in name only. Some people do need to be frightened by the return of Jesus. You need to get the word to those people so that they know the consequences of a lack of faith.
But for you servants who are looking for the Master receive this Word of God as a boost. Know that your rescue is at hand. Your Savior does keep His promises and is coming back. His return will make every sacrifice you made for Him well worth the wait. His return will make all the petty problems of this earth forgotten. Be patient. Set your hearts on things above, and wait while you work. Your Master is coming back. The wedding feast is nearly ready. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.