The Gospel of Luke - Part 59: Faithful and Wise Stewards — Luke 12:35-59
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

Today we are on the last 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. Then we dealt with Being Rich toward God, where it matters, forever. That is the lesson where Jesus told us not to worry.

In the last lesson Jesus taught us to Be Ready for Jesus, His return to earth, the Second Coming. Rusty sent me a beautiful email on that point. If anyone wants to see it, let me know, I will forward it.

We ended the last lesson with Jesus starting to teach us about the characteristics that we should see in our lives if we truly are ready for His return, if we truly expect it. To remind you, in the last lesson, we heard Jesus give us illustrations that tell us to be actively waiting, anticipating His return. Then He taught us to be watching for His return and to be busy doing what He wants us to do. Remember that the Return of Jesus was a big deal to Jesus and to God. The Bible has 8 times as many references

Of the 216 chapters in the New Testament, there are 318 references to Jesus’ Second Coming, or 1 out of every 30 verses. 23 of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. Remember that the illustrations that Jesus used were about servants and stewards. That’s us. We are the servants to Jesus, we are to do his work, serve him. We are also his stewards. He has entrusted His business here on earth, in His absence to us. Thankfully He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide and help us.  As stewards, we should be doing his business in such a way that we are ready and anxious for His return at all times. It does not concern us when He returns, if the business is in order.

This morning let’s look as some traits that Jesus expects to see in us as we wait, watch and work.

Let’s start with the last illustration we looked at last lesson.

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. —Luke12:42-48
Characteristics that Jesus expects us to exhibit in our lives:

Faithful: — means to be reliable, trustworthy, doing what we are supposed to be doing, even when his Master is not around. Here is what the Bible has to say about that.

Many a man proclaims his own loyalty,
  But who can find a trustworthy man? —Proverbs 20:6

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. —Luke 16:10

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. —2 Timothy 2:2
Wise: — One aspect of wisdom is looking at life based on what God tells us rather than on what the world tells us. Wisdom comes only from the Lord. It is the application of His truth to our daily lives.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. —James 1:5
But there are plenty more verses about wisdom. Wisdom comes from studying what Jesus taught us. Here are a couple.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. —Colossians 3:16

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. —James 3:17
God’s wisdom is very different that the egotistical wisdom of man. Pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable and full of mercy and good fruits are the opposite of man’s wisdom. Man’s wisdom is often used to gain position, used to win an argument, and not always reasonable.

Stewards: — That is a characteristic that He expects of us. A steward or a manager is responsible for what he does with something that belongs someone else. All that we have and all that we are belongs to God. We are stewards, not owners. We should treat everything we have with that realization.

Shepherds: — Jesus also talks about how we treat other people in this illustration. If you mistreat other people, you are one of His unfaithful servants. You fall into the wrong column in the illustration that Jesus used to teach this point.

Jesus calls a spade a spade. Jesus never sugar-coated what it meant to be His disciples. His own life was marked by suffering and opposition. His disciples will face the same things:

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. —John15:18-21
Let’s move on here in Luke Chapter 12.  After the illustrations, Jesus says:
I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” —Luke 12:49-53
To understand His ministry, Jesus focuses on two words — fire and baptism:   “I have come to cast fire upon the earth...” —Luke12:49

Fire is often used as a picture of the Holy Spirit. Luke recorded:

John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” —Luke 3:16

And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. —Acts 2:3
Paul wrote:   Do not quench the Spirit. —1 Thessalonians 5:19

Some translations say, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire".

Fire is also a great image of how the Jesus’ ministry developed. Think of a campfire left burning in a forest. For awhile it just burns in one place. Then slowly it begins to spread. Eventually it becomes a raging forest fire going out in all directions. Jesus’ ministry was like that campfire — burning slowly, limited to the small nation of Israel. But in a few short years, this “fire” would be spreading throughout the known world.

After using the fire analogy, He says:  “But I have a baptism to undergo...” —Luke 12:50

Jesus has already been baptized by John the Baptist. So what does He mean? He is using the word allegorically to refer to His suffering, especially His impending death by crucifixion. In fact, Jesus will use baptism as a picture of His death in talking to James and John on a different occasion:

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.” —Mark 10:38-39
Then Jesus says:
Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division. —Luke 12:51
Here Jesus speaks of one of the fundamental realities of discipleship. Certainly God desires there to be peace in our relationships. But division occurs because each person must choose to receive or reject Jesus. This decision polarizes people.

Many of us have family members that we are not as close to as we desire because we have chosen to receive the Lord and they have chosen to reject the Lord. The Lord's desire is for peace but the choices people make result in division and alienation.

Jesus is speaking to His disciples in response to Peter's question back in verse 41 where Peter asked “Are you talking to us?”  No doubt that even in the families of these twelve men were examples of this division among family members.

Then Jesus continues in verse 54 of Luke 12:

And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time? And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right? For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent.” —Luke 12:54-59
In verse 54, He turns from His disciples and speaks to the crowd that has gathered to hear Him teach. Any person can anticipate the weather to some extent on the basis of clouds or wind. In the same way, Jesus' miracles undeniably affirmed that His message was from God. It was only their own spiritual blindness, their hypocrisy that caused them not to believe. All the evidence they needed was before their very eyes. He says:
For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him. —Luke 12:58
In verses 57-59, Jesus uses another picture to help us understand our lives. We are like people headed to court for a trial. The best solution is to be reconciled now and avoid the judgment that we must face in court. The same is true for us: the best way to be ready for the coming judgment of all people is to be reconciled to God through Jesus now! Hebrews tells us about that judgment.
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment... —Hebrews 9:27
How ready are you to die? How ready are you for Jesus' return?  Most of us live as if these events will occur years and years from now. But the truth is either of them could happen today. The best way to live is to be ready every day!
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. —1 John 2:28
The Message paraphrased Bible of this verse reads this way:
And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we'll be ready for Him when He appears, ready to receive Him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when He arrives. —1 John 2:28 (The Message)
So to be ready for the return of Jesus, Jesus expects us to be But He says it won’t be a cake walk. It will not be easy. He says that the truth is evident, just like the sky tells us the coming weather, but some refuse to recognize it. And He says that as we live toward that inevitable judgment, get right before we appear before the judge. Now is the time to get right. He is coming. Maybe soon, maybe later. The only way to be a good steward is to stay ready. Then it does not matter if it is sooner or later.

Next week:

We will dive into Luke Chapter 13 where Jesus teaches us what He really cares about. That should tell us what we should also care about. Read through Luke Chapter 13 to be ready to really hear Jesus.