Sermon title:  TREASURE IN HEAVEN WILL LAST FOREVER

Luke 12:35-48    Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, February 17, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News reports from a couple weeks ago

tell how archaeologists in Egypt

uncovered an ancient tomb

from the time of Queen Cleopatra.

 

For thousands of years

Egyptian Pharaohs used to fill their tombs with treasure—

silver, gold and precious jewels—

that they expected to use in the afterlife.

 

Back in 1922, archaeologists uncovered the tomb of Tutankhamun,

better known as King Tut.

 

And they found that all of the treasure

King Tut had buried with him

for use in the afterlife

was still there. 

 

But the treasure was gone from the tombs of other Pharaohs,

not because they got to use it,

after they died,

but because grave robbers had carried it off

long before the archaeologists got there. 

 

None of the Pharaohs got to spend any of that treasure

in the afterlife.

 

You’d think rich people

would have learned a lesson

from that,

but even in modern times,

we hear the expression,

“He who dies with the most toys wins.”

 

You’ve probably seen that phrase

 “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

on bumper stickers.

 

The expression was coined by multi-millionaire Malcolm Forbes.

 

He was the publisher of Forbes magazine.

 

But he was also known for his lavish lifestyle.

 

The “toys” that he collected

included a private Boing 747 jet,

a series of huge luxury yachts,

expensive motor cycles, Fabergé eggs, and so on.

 

In September 1989 he hosted

a lavish 70th birthday party for himself

at a palace he owned in Tangier, Morocco.

 

He spent millions of dollars to charter

a Boeing 747, a DC-8and a Concorde

to fly in 800 rich and famous guests

from New York and London.

 

He had Elizabeth Taylor co-host the party with him,

and his guests included

Barbara Walters,     Donald Trump,

Walter Cronkite,    Rupert Murdoch,

Henry Kissinger, and the governors

of half-a-dozen states.

 

The entertainment at the party featured

600 musicians and performers,

plus 300 men on horseback firing pistols into the air.

 

A few weeks after the party,

Forbes came into conflict with Donald Trump

when Forbes tried to take with him

into the bar at Trump’s Plaza Hotel

what Trump described as

"two young men

who appeared to be

well under the legal drinking age."

 

Trump wrote that in the 1980’s

Forbes "lived openly as a homosexual...

but expected the media and his famous friends

to cover for him."

 

But Trump wouldn’t allow Forbes

to take these under-age boys with him into the bar.

 

In February 1990, a few weeks after that incident,

Forbes died of a heart attack.

 

He had great wealth,   power and influence in this world,

and he boasted that,

“He who dies with the most toys wins.”

 

But Forbes didn’t get to take any of his expensive toys with him

into the afterlife.

 

Instead, he faced judgment before the same God

who rained down fire and sulfur on Sodom & Gomorrah—

the same God who told a rich man in a parable,

 

“‘You fool! This very night

your life will be demanded from you.

Then who will get 

what you have prepared for yourself?’”

 

Our Lord Jesus concluded that parable by saying,

 

“This is how it will be

with anyone who stores up things for himself

but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)

 

We find that parable

in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 12.

 

Luke 12:13 shows that it was one of those occasions

when someone in the audience

interrupted Jesus’ teaching

and Christ responded

with an important teaching.

 

In this case, Luke 12:13 says,

 

13 Someone in the crowd said to him,

"Teacher, tell my brother

to divide the inheritance with me."

 

14 Jesus replied,

"Man, who appointed me a judge

or an arbiter between you?"

 

Jesus could have gone on to tell the man

to go hire a lawyer

and not bother him with such a request.

 

But, instead, our Lord used this

as an opportunity to teach the crowd.

 

15 Then he said to them,

 

"Watch out! Be on your guard

against all kinds of greed;

 

a man's life does not consist

in the abundance of his possessions."

 

Our Lord definitely didn’t subscribe to the saying,

“He who dies with the most toys wins.”

 

He went on to teach his disciples and the other listeners

a number of lessons—

the first of which was the parable of the rich man.

 

16 And he told them this parable:

 

"The ground of a certain rich man

produced a good crop.

 

17 He thought to himself,

 

'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

 

18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do.

I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones,

and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

 

19 And I'll say to myself,

"You have plenty of good things

laid up for many years.

Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

 

20 "But God said to him, 'You fool!

This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get

what you have prepared for yourself?'

 

And then Jesus summed up the lesson of this parable.

He said,

21 "This is how it will be with anyone

who stores up things for himself

but is not rich toward God."

 

So, you can’t take it with you, when you die.

 

Even though those Egyptian pharaohs thought they could—

and so they piled up treasure in their tombs—

all that treasure accomplished

was attract grave-robbers and archaeologists.

 

The gold and silver and precious jewels

the pharaohs piled up in their tombs

didn’t do them a bit of good after they died.

 

But, there is a way to pile up treasure for yourself in heaven.

 

You can’t take your silver and gold down to Cape Canaveral,

add it to the payload of a three-stage rocket

and launch it into heaven.

 

That won’t work any better

than what the pharaohs did

when they piled up treasure in their tombs in the pyramids.

 

And you can’t withdraw your funds

from a retirement account at St. Anne’s Credit Union

and deposit it to an everlasting account

in the Bank of Heaven.

 

That won’t work, either.

 

But, there is a way to store up treasure for yourself in heaven.

 

And, naturally, the only one

who can tell you how to do it

is Jesus,

who came down from heaven

to save us from our sins,

and who returned to heaven

to rule there as the King of Eternity.

 

And he tells us how,

in Luke Chapter 12, beginning at Verse 32.

 

He addresses us believers as his “little flock”—

his little flock of sheep.

 

And he reminds us

that the heavenly Father

has chosen us to rule with Christ as kings

in that heavenly kingdom.

He says,

 

32 "Do not be afraid, little flock,

for your Father has been pleased

to give you the kingdom.

 

And then he goes on

to tell us how to have rich treasure

waiting for us there in heaven.

He says,

33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor.

 

Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted,

where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

 

34 For where your treasure is,

there your heart will be also.

 

That’s what that rich man in the parable should have done.

 

When his farmland produced such a good crop

that his barns weren’t big enough to store all of it,

instead of building bigger barns for himself,

he should have given the surplus to the poor.

 

God would have credited that to the rich man’s account,

and he would have accumulated treasures in heaven.

 

God doesn’t expect us

to give away what we need to live on

or to withdraw our retirement savings.

 

The Apostle Peter got to keep his house by the Sea of Galilee—

the house where Jesus entered in

and found Peter’s mother-in-law sick with a fever

and healed her.

 

And Peter apparently kept his fishing business,

because when Christ appeared on the beach

after rising from the grave,

Jesus called to Peter and the other Apostles

who were a hundred yards from shore

in Peter’s fishing boat.

 

So, we’re not called to impoverish ourselves

to make ourselves poor—

but, rather, to accumulate treasure in heaven

by generously making wise use

of the treasure we have on earth.

-----------------------------------------------

 

We also accumulate treasure in heaven

when we give God of our time and our service.

 

Our Lord Jesus illustrated this

when he went on to say in Verse 35,

 

35 "Be dressed ready for service

and keep your lamps burning,

36 like men 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.

 

I tell you the truth,

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 second or third watch of the night.

 

When Jesus was here on earth,

he took a towel in his hands

and washed the feet of his disciples—

feet that had gotten dirty

walking in sandals over dirt roads.

 

And, as amazing as it seems,

this parable implies that our Lord will wait on us in heaven,

spreading a banquet table before us.

 

The hope of heaven is wonderful,

but many today have given up waiting.

 

Isn’t Jesus ever going to come?

 

We might feel like servants

waiting for their master to return home,

even though it’s getting quite late at night.

 

The “second watch” of the night went until Midnight.

 

And the “third watch” lasted until 3 o’clock in the morning.

 

It’s been almost 2000 years since Christ promised to come again.

 

So, it may seem like he’s never coming.

 

But he is.

 

And that parable encourages us

to keep watching faithfully,

even if it seems like

we’re staying up most of the night watching.

 

Beginning in Verse 39,

Jesus also compared his promised return

to a burglar who breaks into a house

when the home owner isn’t watching.

He says,

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."

 

Jesus isn’t a burglar or a thief, of course,

but the effect might be the same

for those who aren’t watching for his return.

 

Those who have the attitude of the rich man in the parable,

and who ignore God, and say to themselves,

Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry—

they may find themselves losing everything,

just as if a thief broke in and emptied their home.

 

Christ will suddenly return

and find them not ready.

 

Or, like the rich man in the parable,

their time to die will come,

and God will say to them,

 

"'You fool!

This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get

what you have prepared for yourself?'”

 

After Jesus said he will come

like a thief in the night,

the question arose

as to who Jesus meant this parable for.

 

Who needed to hear

that Jesus will come like a thief in the night?

 

In Verse 41,

 

41 Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable

to us, or to everyone?"

 

42 The Lord answered,

 

"Who then is the faithful and wise manager,

whom the master puts in charge of his servants

to give them their food allowance

at the proper time?

 

43 It will be good for that servant

whom the master finds doing so when he returns.

 

44 I tell you the truth,

he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

 

45 But suppose the servant says to himself,

 

'My master is taking a long time in coming,'

 

and he then begins to beat

the menservants and maidservants

and to eat and drink and get drunk.

 

46 The master of that servant will come

on a day when he does not expect him

and at an hour he is not aware of.

 

He will cut him to pieces

and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

 

So, this was a message for believers.

 

Believers are like the manager

who is assigned to feed his fellow-workers.

 

As believers we will be happy,

if the Lord returns and finds us

doing what we’re supposed to.

 

But, if he returns and finds us drunk and disorderly,

abusing our fellow Christians,

Jesus says,

46 The master of that servant will come

on a day when he does not expect him

and at an hour he is not aware of.

 

He will cut him to pieces

and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

 

But the Lord’s next words

show that he understands

that believers vary

in their level of knowledge and maturity.

Jesus isn’t holding everyone

equally responsible

and equally accountable.

 

He goes on to say,

 

47 "That servant who knows his master's will

and does not get ready

or does not do what his master wants

will be beaten with many blows.

 

48 But the one who does not know

and does things deserving punishment

will be beaten with few blows.

 

From everyone who has been given much,

much will be demanded;

and from the one who has been entrusted with much,

much more will be asked.

 

Those whose gifts and understanding

and knowledge of the truth

is limited,

will not be held as accountable.

 

Those who have been given greater knowledge and understanding

will be expected to do better.

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Now, at this point,

Jesus has finished giving advice and warnings

intended for us, his followers.

 

In the next verse he goes on to make a rare expression

of his own personal emotions and feelings.

 

Yes, Christ has emotions and feelings.

 

Our Lord is not dispassionate,

as the Buddhists and Hindus assume the divine nature to be.

 

Those pagans picture God as serene and without emotion—

like Mr. Spock from Star Trek,

above it all

and not disturbed by human feelings.

 

Their Buddha has given up all desires, thirsts, quests and feelings.

 

But Jesus isn’t like that—

not at all.

 

Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead,

he saw the distress of Mary and Martha

over the death of their brother,

and Scripture tells us that “Jesus wept.”

 

He felt their pain,

and he cried and sobbed with them.

 

And our Lord is passionate

about his goals and the work he is doing.

 

In Verse 49 Jesus says,

 

49 "I have come to bring fire on the earth,

and how I wish it were already kindled!

 

He knew that his message,

magnified by his death and resurrection,

would set the world on fire.

 

The Gospel of Christ would turn the world upside down

and change the world forever.

 

And Jesus was eager to

send out his army of preachers into the world,

to bring the Gospel to every nation.

 

But, before he can do that,

he must go to the cross.

 

And, so, he says,

 

50 But I have a baptism to undergo,

and how distressed I am until it is completed!

 

Yes, our Lord was eager to start the Church growing,

and he was distressed over the suffering

that he would need to go through first.

 

He knew that he would pray so intensely

in the Garden of Gethsemane

that his sweat would be

“like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

(Luke 22:44)

Jesus went through all of that

for you and for me.

 

And he was so passionate about it,

because of his great love for you and for me.

 

Yes, everything Jesus said and did on earth—

all of his parables and lessons,

his preaching and teaching,

and his personal suffering—

he went through all of that for us,

because he loves us.

 

He wants to share with us

the great treasure in heaven

that he’s prepared for us to enjoy there

with him for ever and ever.