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The King Is Coming

Luke 12:32 -- 48

Lesson audio

It is a curious thing: much ink is on paper to definitively tell us what Christ tells us that even He does not know: the time of his return. Much less ink is used to tell us what we should do in the meanwhile. Perhaps we can touch on that in this lesson.

On Treasure

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(Luk 12:32-34 NASB)

A friend of our family was in the insurance business. Being one of those poor souls who would have trouble selling anything, I asked him what the secret was to selling a commodity (life insurance) whose payoff was, by definition, after you were dead. His description of the technique was simple: “You back the hearse up to the front door.”

Fear; the great sales tool. We use it to sell everything from mouthwash (aren’t you afraid of having bad breath that night you meet Miss America?) to mortuary services (be prepared!) Fear looks forward – in dread. So we prepare to meet the future in the hope that none of these evil things will strike.

But – I must ask such questions, you’ll soon learn to fear them – just exactly who holds the future? Perhaps we should be looking to Him for instruction. Just what is his attitude towards us?

  • He is your Father. That defines your relationship with him; he holds your future. Doesn’t that one word tell you that he wants what is good for you?
  • He has already chosen to give you the most precious of gifts: the kingdom of God. It is not just salvation – it is the eternal kingdom of God.
  • If he gives you that, why would he balk at giving you your earthly needs?

He does, however, understand you. Therefore he gives you instruction in this matter. To those for whom this world’s possessions are so important, he gives an interesting instruction: get rid of them.

Sell the stuff and give the money away? What could God be thinking? We might look at it this way:

  • He has provided us with any number of poor people. As Lincoln said, He must like the poor – he made so many of them. As these are his children as well, it is his good pleasure to relieve you of the worry of wealth – and at the same time care for the poor.
  • The money, you see, is in the road. I am told that the proper procedure for dealing with a camel which sits down and refuses to go another step is to shoot the camel and distribute his load among the remainder. Perhaps he wants you to put a bullet in the burden of your wealth.

By giving it to God’s children, you accomplish much:

  • By doing this, you are actually lending to God! Be assured that he pays interest on it, too.
  • At the same time, you give witness that God stands above your money.
  • Which, at the same time, is witness to one and all that you trust God to deliver you in all circumstances.
  • All this – and you triumph over greed at the same time, for such giving puts a bullet into the heart of greed.

And have you then gotten rid of the treasure? Well, no. You just moved it into heaven. Since your heart is in your treasure, can you not see that this puts your heart in heaven as well?

Recently, I set up a money management program for my mother. In so doing, I see her checkbook – and the priorities in her life. Your credit cards and your checkbook are excellent thermometers of your spiritual life.

Be Ready

The reason God mentions this to you is simple: he has handed you wealth so that you might do something with it. He’s coming back some day, and will ask for an accounting of it. So it seems we need to understand the normal precautions a servant of God should make.

"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. "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."

(Luk 12:35-40 NASB)

One paraphrase of the Bible translates that first verse as “Keep your shirt on; keep the lights on.” The emphasis is on the word “keep.”[1] You are to be one who is always doing the work of God. You are also to be one who is always ready for his return.


It surprises some that Christ consistently affirms that those who are faithful to the end will be rewarded, as we might see it, by being invited to the heavenly party. We are to be the guests of honor, it seems – if we are faithful to the end. We are those who will be invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. But there is a condition for this, as we saw in the last lesson. If you uphold Christ in your life, he will uphold you. If you deny Him, he will deny even knowing you. But just exactly is this “Wedding Supper?” We know a little about it:

  • We know that Christ is preparing a place for us. He does all things well; but we don’t exactly have a detailed description of this.
  • We do know that it won’t be like the life we have now. We will be transformed at his return; the heaven and earth we know today will be destroyed at his coming.
  • What will it be like? We don’t know – but we know that it will not be a remodeling, but the New Heaven and New Earth.
An Unexpected Return

We also know something about the time in which Christ will return.

·         The watchwords of that time will be “peace and safety.” Everything will be cool. Most people will consider the return of Christ to be a fairy tale, and laugh at those who believe. “As it was in the days of Noah,” the world will see things just getting better.

·         Life in the church will be difficult, not the least because of the “Man of Lawlessness” who is to come. Some have seen him as the Roman Emperor Constantine; others see the Pope or the papacy in general. These are just some of the theories, but the key fact is this: we will have religious leaders who are apostates – who deny the Gospel and its power while claiming its privileges.

Now you know enough to go on. Keep the faith; He will keep you.

The Leader’s Burden

Christ now turns his thought to those who are leaders in the church:

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.

(Luk 12:41-48 NASB)

So, what’s the faithful and sensible steward supposed to be doing?

·         First, let’s be sure who we are talking about. These are the leaders of the church – the deacons, elders, pastors and teachers. These are the ones to whom God has given authority.

·         The command is simple: feed the flock. Do it regularly. In other words, preach and teach the Gospel. Keep on doing it.

·         As we learn from the parable of the Talents, we are also to work to have the kingdom grow – in other words, evangelize.

Taken as a whole, you can see in these the Great Commission. In other words, do what you’re supposed to be doing – teach the Gospel, make disciples.

The unfaithful steward

But what about those who are granted authority – and misuse it? Kindly remember that no one among us is given dominion over the church – that is reserved for Christ. We are given stewardship – it’s like dominion, with accountability. Christ gives us three cases:

  • The steward who deliberately misuses his trust – for example, to line his own pockets with the offerings of the misled – will be cut to pieces and sent to hell.[2]
  • The steward who neglects his trust – no abuse, just doesn’t bother doing it – will be severely punished.
  • The steward who is ignorant of what he should be doing will be lightly punished.[3]

But remember: faithful in little, faithful in much. Those who lead are to keep the faith. As Paul told Timothy,

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge"-- which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.

(1Ti 6:20-21 NASB)

[1] One scholar learnedly informs me that this is the periphrastic perfect passive imperative third plural of the verb. I have no idea what that is; but the intent is that you do this all the time.

[2] Direct and to the point? Rather!

[3] Which is all the more reason the steward should study the Scriptures.

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