32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 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. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
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 have 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 toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
I wonder whether we feel like the world in which we have to live is now scarier than it has ever been for most of us because so many things that we did not expect or fully understand have come upon us?
I did not live through the world at war. The threat of nuclear catastrophe was real in that strange Cold War. Civil unrest and the Vietnam War era was there too, but not personally and not as an adult. The Depression was a ‘grandad’ thing. Seventeen and a half percent interest rates was a news item when you are in primary school.
The damage of divorce, the breaking of family, the pain of loss of loved ones is all real for me and many.
The threat of a nation less stable, more anti-Christian church, a vicious social media, a personality driven public conversation that can’t get to the deeper issues beyond news-spin, zero trust and the breaking down of the institutions that have provided so much clarity, support and good life all my life, interest I rates on the rise, fuel prices sky high, China in the South Pacific, the climate changing and disasters more frequent…… I do wonder if we are more scared than we have ever been?
Jesus speaks into the fear of his friends. He seems to be saying; “Don’t be afraid of anything because you are going to get everything. Why?
Because my Father is very pleased to give you everything you could possibly want or need, so no matter how high the interest rates go, what virus comes next, what threat of war may come, how little you can travel in your car or anywhere by air, how damaged you may get by relationship break down or how much loss you experience in life, you will receive the status, the community, the gifts of a new heaven and earth which I am very pleased to give you because you are part of the Good Shepherd’s flock.
And what does that mean for living now? I think he is saying;
- You are going to get it all so give it all away.
- You are going to be the real you so you can give up making you.
- You are going to receive everything you could possibly ever want, so give everything you have.
This reality is what we set our heart on in all matters of the heart in the here and now.
This great promise of complete reward no matter what happens is where our true treasure is – Jesus’ kingdom life is our highest priority for deciding, relating, conducting ourselves; the thing we treasure the most above any other treasure because it completes, makes sense of, sustains us in living life to the full in Jesus love and hope, no matter how many people we know, how big or small our family is, how business is going, how the farm is tracking, how much loss we know, how many threats come. Our Father is very pleased to give us all the benefits of his kingdom ruled by this resurrected Jesus today and at the last day, whenever that will be.
What are those benefits:
Psalm 103 tells us;
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 … and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Better than Superannuation because you access them any time you want and they are needed far more than money and will sustain you every day!
Why can you trust that you can and will receive these benefits? Because;
6 The Lord works justice for all the oppressed.
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
What a life we are receiving in this King’s kingdom!
But can you see than danger of knowing of the great reward? Jesus can.
Sleepiness, distraction, laziness. If you are going to inherit the farm then why work it now? Just let Dad and others do all the work and have a great time elsewhere.
If you are going to belong in the biggest and best community ever, then no need to work hard at relationships now. Just please yourself.
If you are going to reach perfection and true self-awareness and acceptance then don’t bother about learning anything now.
So, it is true that the One who is pleased to give you everything you need, show you who you truly are and give you all the meaning, satisfaction and fulfilment your heart can take and patch you into the most loving, caring community that could ever be is please to give you all this out of love for his flock.
But we hear that only He gets to decide when. He has not and will not reveal this to anyone, not even Jesus.
Why? Is God like some horrible parent who just wants power over us because he like the power and so keeps us in the dark about things so he keeps control? Is God a control freak who just loves to play with his creations and move them around the board like pawns in some game he is playing? Is God a bit sleepy and forgetful or is he on his own long holiday and he will be back when he feels like it….
How can that be when he is so pleased to give us all those stunning benefits of his presence and he allows us no be as close to him as a child to their loving mum or dad?
No, Jesus, the Son, tells us how to live well in the rewards of his Father. He knows them. He invites us to share them.
Why does God not reveal the when? So we don’t lose a thing.
He knows our fickle promises, lack of awareness, tendency to settle for the lowest common denominator in things, our trouble in making relationships work and last, our innate self-orientation, our internal drive to want it all now, not then and to go it alone in getting things we want now rather than trusting his promise that he is very pleased to give us everything he has to offer now and then.
So, he keeps us seeking and trusting and relying by not showing us exactly when we get the whole box and dice of his kingdom of grace.
What if he did? What of someone somewhere got the date – the time of your death or the time of the last great resurrection of the living and the dead day? What if we knew it was October 31st 2046. What if the King of the kingdom who promises that we will receive the whole thing and everything good we could ever possibly need or want beyond our wildest imaginations said this was when it would happen?
I suspect we all instantly start gearing our life up for that date and take full control of life’s agenda on our terms.
Like knowing your numbers are going to come in on Saturday night Lotto and you would win ten million dollars on that date, you would reset the mortgage, re-organise the farm, re-set the business accordingly. You whole family life, marriage relationships, extended family shape would instantly be re-defined by the date and off we would go, making our life up until that day what WE THINK IT NEEDS TO BE.
We would time the arrival of the kids. We would book in that bucket list of holidays and places and experiences.
Or, we would just switch off – too far away. It is way up ahead. Just get on with now and just prepare a few days before. Live life to the full the way I want and finally at the end be good and hope it is enough to get in.
Jesus seems to be saying that we can be a switched off, distracted or self-orientated people and he does not want that for us. No, this is what he wants for us;
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 have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them
Can you believe it. God who holds all the keys to his treasure chest of gifts wants to serve us! He is wanting to wait on us, serve us, welcome us. And he did!
I go to the Last Supper. I go to riding on that donkey rather than a big flash horse. I go to a bloodied and tortured human being dismissed and dismembered, I go to cloths around his body and then lying mysteriously folded in an empty tomb – his waiter clothes?
He knew. Jesus knew he would serve these people. They didn’t at first but then they did and it changed their world. It woke them up and got them moving. They became the servants of all and masters of none because Jesus was their master whom they knew always was pleased to serve them up all those benefits of life in his dominion.
This is you, friend.
God is very pleased to give us everything and already has, and yet, he reserves the future timing as a way of keeping us awake, alert, focussed and ready for everything he is doing as we move on toward this sure set form gift of kingdom community coming.
You are going to get it all so give it all away.
You are going to be the real you so you can give up making you.
You are going to receive everything you could possibly ever want, so give everything you have.
Set our heart on him and keep serving.