A race of aliens visits earth one day; they come in peace and surprisingly, they speak English. Obviously all of the heads of government and religious leaders want to speak to the aliens so they set up a meeting with our new visitors.
When it’s the Arch-bishop of Canterbury’s turn, he asks, “Do you know about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?”
“You mean J.C?”, responds the alien. “Yeah we know him he’s the greatest isn’t he? He swings by every year to make sure that we are doing ok”
Surprised, the Arc-bishop follows up with “He visits every year?! It’s been over 2000 years and we’re still waiting for his second coming!”
The alien sees that the Arch-bishop has become irate at this fact and starts trying to rationalize: “maybe he likes our chocolate better than yours?”
“Chocolates?” The Arch-bishop retorts, “What are you talking about? What does that have to do with anything?”
The alien says “Yeah, when he first visited our planet we gave him a huge box of chocolates. Why? What did you guys do?”
Jesus doesn’t expect us to give him chocolates. In fact, our entire relationship with him is not formed around anything we can give him, but on what he has given us. Because of his sacrifice, we are able to share in God’s kingdom.
This is the good news that Jesus shares with us in our reading, (v32) “Do not be afraid little flock, for it is your Fathers pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We have been given an incredible gift and when Jesus returns, we will see the full realisation of this gift.
We don’t know when this will be, we can’t mark it off in our calendar like the aliens in the story, because as Jesus says, (v40) “the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
We don’t know when this will be – but Jesus says we must be ready!
Your Heart Is Where Your Treasure Is
But what does it mean to be ready? What does Jesus expect of his flock?
Well he wants us to put our faith in him completely, to trust in him fully, to put our lives in his hands.
He tells us (v 33) “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
He is telling us to stop depending on our stuff! Possessions and money are not permanent things that are meant to be depended upon, they are temporary. Jesus and his gift of the kingdom of God brings real security, an eternal treasure that no thief can steal, no moth can destroy. What Jesus wants, is for us to put our faith completely in him. To be entirely his.
The temptation is to say we have faith in him, but to store up worldly treasures as a back up, just in case this Jesus thing doesn’t work out. This is not what he wants, this is not what he is telling us to do.
He tells us clearly in verse 32 – God has been pleased to give you his kingdom, sell your possessions and give them to the poor. He is all we need, we shouldn’t rely on anything else.
That means we have a choice to make, we cannot have our cake and eat it, we must decide – What do we value most? Our worldly comforts or our eternal treasure? Is our heart for our stuff, or for our God? It cannot be for both.
If He Comes During the Night…Be Ready
We are going pause for a moment now, for a brief message from Bart Simpson…
So that’s Bart Simpsons answer to faith, quite a stark difference to Jesus (!).
In verse 35 Jesus uses this example of a servant waiting for their master, he says – “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.”
Jesus continues (verse 38) “If he comes during the middle of the night, or during dawn and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.”
Despite the change in language, Jesus is continuing the same point, only now he is not only telling us to be completely his, but telling us to be completely his always!
It is not a case of being like Bart Simpson, doing what suits us and then suddenly choosing Jesus when we need a get out of jail free card. It is a case of being completely for Jesus on a Sunday morning, but also down the pub on a Friday night, or at work on a Wednesday afternoon.
Those of you with children have probably been in that situation where things suddenly go very quiet in the other room, so you walk in and your child is standing there, trying to look as innocent as possible and you know they’ve been up to no good.
What Jesus doesn’t want, is for us to do things his way when we think he’s about to walk through the door – or in church on Sundays – but our own way the rest of the time. We should be completely dependent on him in every moment, completely ready to carry out his will no matter who is or isn’t watching, or what hour of the day it is.
Keep Your Lamp Lit
When I used to work in a coffee shop, the better we knew a person, the better we were able to serve them. If a regular customer came in to the shop, we would have their drink ready before they had even walked up to the counter.
We would take a real interest in them, asking them if they’d got the promotion they were after, or how their Great Aunt’s hip replacement had gone. And because we got know them, we started to really care about them and it was a real pleasure to serve them.
Similarly, if we want to really be ready to serve Jesus at any hour, if we want to be his at all times, doesn’t it make sense that we get to know him, so that we can understand what his will is?
Jesus says (verse 35) “keep your lamp burning.”
Now I don’t know about you, but we don’t have oil-filled lamps around our house. But what we do have is mobile phones – and they need charging daily, so they’re ready when we need them.
If we want to devote our whole lives to him we need to keep getting to know him. Every few days, or when we feel like it, isn’t enough – we’ll find ourselves in the middle of nowhere with a dead phone.
If we are mobile phones, how do we stay charged? How do we keep our lamps burning for Jesus?
Well, I go to church on a Sunday… look up and look sheepish well… some Sundays, so that’s me covered.
Hmmm… maybe not.
We need to be committed to getting to know Jesus. That means (1) regular worship, (2) regular bible study, (3) regular prayer. They are the three pins on the plug socket to charge your mobile phone.
The more we get to know Jesus, the more we realise we are his, the more we become his, and the more we discover what a wonderful Master he is.
In the parable (verse 37) when the master finds the servants waiting for him, he serves them. He is a loving master. There is a closeness here between us and Jesus because of his love, and because of that we can find pleasure in serving him, rather than seeing it as a mere duty. To be fully his is a blessing.
Jesus has given us this wonderful gift and all that he asks for in return is that we believe in him. Not only that we believe he exists but that we believe in him. True faith in Christ is not merely a couple of words “I believe” that we say and forget about. Instead it is a call to action.
It is not enough to know that the master is returning, we must be prepared for his return. We must be ready to learn his desires and to act upon his will, waiting for his return with our lamps lit.
God is pleased to share his kingdom with us and accepting this gift should have life-changing, action altering consequences. We are saved by grace, but we should also be changed by it. And what we do and say should also change.
I have to say that reading this passage and writing this sermon gave me a great opportunity for self-reflection. It reminded me to take a look at my life, and to ask myself the questions – Are my treasures and my heart in heaven? Am I constantly dressed to serve Jesus? Do I put my faith in him? Does my faith in Jesus affect what I do?
I would like to encourage you to ask yourselves the same questions. Really examine your own life and if the answer to any of the questions is no, then it is time to come back to him, to ask Him to create in you a heart that exists for Him.
The good news is, it’s never too late to devote your life to him, and there’s no limit to the number of times you can mess it up and still start again. The other good news, is that if you need some extra help along the way, there are so many options out there for you – there is an Alpha course starting soon.
The sermon series that has just finished is all about growing in discipleship, and it is all on the church website if you want to take a listen. If you feel like Jesus is only a Sunday morning thing – there’s multiple home groups that you could join during the week. There’s Word for the Day, to help you to devote time to Him every day. There are countless resources available to help you in becoming his.
So let’s make Jesus our priority. Let’s make him what we live for. Let’s give ourselves to him, every day. Keep ourselves charged, keep our lamps lit, be ready for action, waiting for his return.
Let’s ask ourselves, are we ready?
So, let’s make Jesus our priority. Let’s make him what we live for. Let’s give ourselves to him, every day. Keep our lamps lit, be ready for action, waiting for his return. Lets ask ourselves, are we ready?