32 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
35 ‘Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 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. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will make them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or towards daybreak
God’s Gift to You is His Kingdom and its Royal Service
Have you ever been promised a generous gift? How did you feel about it? Did you look forward to receiving it with eager anticipation? How did you feel when it became yours? Generosity is a rare virtue in today’s world. That’s why we’re overwhelmed when it happens. Today’s Gospel contains Jesus’ announcement of the Good News of God giving you the greatest gift of all – His Kingdom and all the privileges that go along with life within it. What better gift could we be given? This gift is for people of all ages, including infants.
Jesus addresses you with words of such tender endearment when He says,
“Fear not, little flock, for your Father is thrilled to give you the Kingdom (v32).”
A little flock is one that can receive special care and attention from its shepherd. He knows their unique needs and requirements. We’re not to let size intimidate us. The Head of the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t an aloof, out-of-contact king, but a caring parent. We’re more than citizens of this Kingdom. In Baptism we were incorporated into God’s family and made members of the royal household, where we are its princes and princesses.
Jesus came preaching the good news of the Kingdom with Himself as its central focus. Jesus is the Kingdom Incarnate, the Kingdom personified. Our Lord is the bringer, the content and the completion of the Kingdom of Heaven. When He says,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3)”
He means that this new community is for all the ordinary folk, those only all too aware of their limitations and inadequacies.
Through the embassies of God’s Kingdom, our churches, God establishes His reign of grace throughout the world. Jesus inaugurated the time of God’s favour with us, for our lifelong benefit and blessing. Grace involves being welcomed into heaven‘s royal household with no strings attached, no prior requirements we have to first meet. We sing about Christ, the Prince of Peace in Hymn 219:
Blessings abound where’er He reigns
The prisoner leaps to loose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest
And all the sons of want are blest.
Jesus brings the blessings of a regal joy, a majestic mercy, a peerless peace and a hope that’s sure and certain. His address to you “Fear not, little flock” is words that create courage, words that eliminate our anxiety. These words seek to fill us with a disarming fearlessness that makes us eager ambassadors of Christ, ambassadors who are thrilled to act as His advocates and supporters in our community.
Jesus had high hopes for His little flock. It hasn’t let Him down. It began as an insignificant minority, but what a creative minority the members of His embassies, His churches, have been! The advancement and progress of the Kingdom of the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit is rarely visible. Our Lord’s parables of the Kingdom reassure us that from lowly and insignificant beginnings, a mighty harvest will come.
“Jesus said, ‘The Kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come (Mark 4:26-29).
”It can furthermore be compared to yeast mixed into flour until it permeates and transform s all the flour, as in Matthew 13:33.
God works behind the scenes, both in those who are Christians and those who are not yet Christians, to bring them in, and keep them in His Kingdom. That’s why Jesus refers to His Kingdom as
“the pearl of great price”,
and the treasure of infinite worth in which we joyfully invest all that we are and all that we have.
It was unexpected that God’s Kingdom was open to all kinds of sinners and not just for the righteous. Instead of its righteous citizens ruling over the world, its citizens mingle with those still outside as its enthusiastic advocates. Its unostentatious nature masks its ultimate and unsurpassed greatness. In our worship we have a foretaste, a first instalment of the Kingdom of Heaven, which whets our appetite for its coming in all its fullness.
God gives to us what God asks of us. In the verse before today’s Gospel, Jesus says,
“Seek God’s Kingdom”
a treasure that God is keener to give to you than you are to receive it. The privileges we have as Christ’s ambassadors far outweigh the responsibilities He requires of us. Before He seeks our service, Jesus comes to serve us. As He says of Himself,
“I am among you as One who serves (Luke 22:27).”
In Holy Communion, His Kingdom becomes very real and concrete, as in this Blessed Sacrament, we receive its blessings and benefits. Our Sunday Worship has been called “Divine Service”, because there, Christ Himself serves us with His forgiveness, His grace, His comfort, His support and His encouragement, in anticipation of the Last Day when all of Heaven’s blessings will be ours in overflowing measure.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus called “blessed” all of His servants who are getting ready for His return. The knowledge that He is preparing a place for us in His Father’s House motivates us to prepare ourselves for His appearance on the Last Day. Because His forgiveness means we can live as if today is the first day of our life, we can live as if tonight might be our last night on this earth. We can join our Lord in praying,
, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit”,
or else we can pray Simeon’s song with him.
Our Lord’s reward for lifelong faithfulness is never commonplace. It comes as an unexpected gift out of all proportion to anything we may have done. Faithfulness to our Lord so thrills Him that He reverses normal Master/servant roles and tells us that in Heaven He will again come and wait on us in order to serve us. What a revolutionary message that was! Such a role reversal was utterly unheard of. It would be like a bridegroom serving the waiters at his wedding, or like a restaurant customer paying to serve the restaurant’s waiters instead.
Such an unexpected promise is one that Jesus Christ alone could make and keep. In His Kingdom, the first are last and the last are first. There, the greatest become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves:
“For who is greater, the one who is at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as One who serves”,
Jesus says. What an utterly undeserved honour it will be to receive personal attention from our Lord in Heaven. Perhaps He will stoop down to wash our feet, as He did so unexpectedly to His twelve apostles on Maundy Thursday eve.
We, Christ’s humble servants, will be treated like royalty. There won’t be any famous men and women in Heaven because every human being there will be famous. Heaven will be a place of perpetual giving and endless thanksgiving. Jesus says,
, “Blessed are those servants whom the Master finds alert when He comes; truly I tell you, He will fasten His belt and have them sit down to eat, and He will come and serve them (Luke 12:37).”
Back in Jesus’ time, a master serving a slave would have been unthinkable. But then, Heaven will be full of surprises. When Prince Edward defeated and took prisoner King John of France, he nobly condescended to wait on King John the same night at supper. Serving us in Heaven won’t be beneath Christ’s divine dignity, because it wasn’t beneath Him to be our Suffering Servant while on earth.
In Heaven, we will shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory. We will be with Jesus and like Jesus as we share in His gigantic joy. To at last see our Lord face to face will be an awesome vision of which we will never tire. One way to get ready for Heaven is to develop a capacity for surprise – surprise at all the breath-taking things God does for us. Psalm 126 will become true:
“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced (vv1-3).”
Heaven will be the greatest surprise party ever. It will be like all the best family reunions, wedding breakfasts and Christmas celebrations rolled into one never-ending celebration. All human words are inadequate to describe what awaits us in Heaven.
“What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).”
This world, which serves as a scaffolding for God’s new world, will one day be removed. There, in God’s new world, we will experience life’s ultimate adventure in all its glorious abundance. The best is yet to come. There, we will be blessed, not because of what we do, but because of what we let Jesus do for us.
Who cannot help but love, honour and rejoice over our Lord and Master who promises to do such wonderful things for us?
“Blessed are those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).”
We are truly blessed indeed to be servants of Christ the “Servant King!
This is our God, the Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.
So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him;
Each other’s needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving.
Graham Kendrick (AT261) Used with permission CCLI license #62009