The Gospel of Luke - Part 58: Be Ready for Jesus — Luke 12:35-48
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


Today we are on the Third leg of the teaching of Jesus in Chapter 12 of Luke, where He teaches us how to Live for Jesus, teaching us to:

We dealt with avoiding being hypocritical.

Last week we finished the discussion about where we need to be investing; in eternity, not in this life. We spent a lot of time talking about how to avoid falling into the position of a fool, as Jesus put it. We learned that Jesus said we should not worry, we should depend on God. The birds and the grass do and they do very well. Maybe we ought to too.

This morning — we look at being Ready for Jesus.

In describing the transition from the section of Luke 12 that we finished last week to this week's lesson, Warren Wiersbe notes, “Jesus shifted the emphasis from being worried about the present to being watchful about the future.”

In this passage Jesus talks about the importance of being ready for His return. There are four direct references to being ready in this passage. This is the other side of the coin from what we studied in verse 20. In Luke 12:20, Jesus talks about the importance of being ready for death.

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ —Luke 12:20
So whether we go to Him or He returns for us, either way we need to be ready!  If you found out right now that Jesus would be returning in 24 hours, what changes would you make in your plans?  One answer to this question might be, “None!”. That's what it means to “be ready”. It means living within God's will. It means living in such a way that I don't have to do anything different if I learn that Jesus is coming back. Of the 216 chapters in the New Testament, there are 318 references to Jesus’ Second Coming, or one out of every 30 verses. 23 of the 27 NT books refer to this great event. 3 of the 4 books that do not refer to it are single chapter letters written to individuals on a particular subject. The 4th is the book of Galatians. For every Biblical prophecy on the first coming of Christ there are eight concerning His Second Coming.  The relevance and importance of Jesus' return are shown by the emphasis God placed on it in His Word. Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that one day He would come back. Probably the most familiar statement by Jesus is found in John 14:

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. —John 14:2-3

But there are other references, too.

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. —Matthew 24:42

You heard that I said to you, “I go away, and I will come to you.” If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.—John 14:28
The disciples (not just the Twelve) also had the word of angels at Jesus’ ascension:
And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” —Acts 1:10-11
The importance of this subject — to Jesus and to His disciples — is shown by the long passages of Scripture dedicated to Jesus’ return. All the Gospels record Jesus’ teaching on this. In Matthew, all of two long chapters (24 and 25) is Jesus talking about His return.

In Luke there are many references. There are long passages of Jesus’ teaching about His return here in chapter 12 as well as in chapters 17 and 21. Here are some other references in Luke:

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God. —Luke 9:26-27

I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? —Luke 18:8

So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ " —Luke 19:12-13

When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. —Luke 19:15
As we study this passage, let’s keep in mind just how important this topic was / is to Jesus — and therefore how important it should be to us as well!

One commentator said: “Ever since the first days of the Christian church, evangelicals have been “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). They may have disagreed about [different points of doctrine concerning His return]... However, all are agreed that the final solution to the problems of this world is in the hands of the King of kings who will someday make the kingdoms of this world His very own.”

In v.35-48, Jesus uses three stories to illustrate what He is talking about and each story illustrates an important application for us:

  1. Be Waiting:

    Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. —Luke 12:35-38

    What do you think we can learn from this illustration? Jesus wants us to understand that we’re not just living, we’re waiting. To wait means to “to remain in expectation of something”. That’s what Jesus expects of us — that we live with an awareness that Jesus will return and we need to be ready for that day.

    A Luke commentary says: “A Hebrew wedding celebration could last several days, so that the time of a master’s return could be anyone’s guess. But the uncertainty did not put off these excellent servants. Though it was late at night, they were ‘dressed ready for service.’ [This phrase meant literally to have their robes tucked in their belts so that they could move quickly.] The night was also kept bright because they vigilantly replenished the oil in their lamps and trimmed the wicks for maximum light. They were awake and alert. “

  2. Be Ready:   Jesus makes it clear in verse 15 that He expects us to be ready no matter when He returns, whether sooner or later.
  3. Be Watching:   We need to be “on the lookout. Jesus could return today, tonight or tomorrow! He expects us to stay alert, watching for His return, (v. 17).
The servants needed to be ready no matter what time it was when their master returned. “The second watch” meant from 10pm to 2am; “the third watch” meant from 2am to 6am. No matter when the master returned, the servants were expected to be ready and waiting.

The Reward:

Verse 38 talks about being rewarded.  What does Jesus say about rewarding the servants He finds ready and waiting at His return? Twice Jesus says “it will be good” for this servant. And notice how Jesus has promised to serve the servant that He finds ready! What applications do you think we can make from this story?

Why do you think that most Christians in the U.S. today don’t seem to think much about Jesus’ return?  Let’s talk about the instruction that we need to be watching.

But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” —Luke 12:39
Who here has ever had a burglar break into your house? Wouldn’t it have been great to have “known at what hour the thief was coming”? We could have the cops waiting inside to arrest the guy! What do you think we can learn from this illustration? Not only are we to be waiting, we are also to be watching. One definition of “to watch” is “to locate and wait expectantly and in anticipation”. We are to be watching for the Lord’s return. That means we don’t forget this truth or assume that it doesn’t apply to us. If you knew that a burglar was going to try break into your home but you didn't know when, what would you do? Maybe you'd contact the police; maybe you'd purchase an alarm system; maybe you'd stay awake at night! Certainly you'd do something. In the same way, if we really believe that Jesus is coming back it will be demonstrated in the actions we take to prepare for that event.

Warren Wiersbe says: “To ‘watch’ means to be alert, to be ready, not to be caught by surprise. That is the attitude we must have toward the second coming of Jesus Christ. His coming will be like that of a thief; unannounced and unexpected. We must be ready!”

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. —1 Thessalonians 5:2

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief. —1 Thessalonians 5:4

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. —2 Peter 3:10

So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. —Revelation 3:3

(Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.) —Revelation 16:15
What applications do you think we should make from this story?

    4.   Be Working:

Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. " —Luke 12:41-48
What do you think we can learn from this illustration? This illustration makes it clear that Jesus doesn’t want us to be just sitting around waiting for His return! He expects us to be hard at work (doing His work) preparing for His return. The “faithless” manager (v.45-47) acts as if the owner will never return, as if he will never be held accountable for his performance as manager. The “faithful” manager will seek to do the best job he can. His goal is the approval of the owner.

In verse 41 Peter asks: ““Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” Like Peter, we always seem to think that the warnings and teachings of Scripture are for someone else, not us. Certainly this is true of His teaching about His return. Most of us don’t seriously believe that Jesus will return any day now.

In verse 42 Jesus answered: “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, …?

There are several characteristics that Jesus highlights here that He wants to see in us in this passage. In the next lesson, we will see these characteristics that Jesus wants to see in us and also see what happens at the end of this teaching.

Coming Lessons:

For the next two weeks, while Pat and I are out of town, Dave Westley will be presenting a couple of lessons about what the Hosanna Ministries does, why and how. He hopes to bring each of us a free gift that will help us experience "Faith Comes by Hearing" first hand.