Sermon title:  WHAT WILL CHRIST FIND YOU DOING?

 

Luke 21:34-36; Mark 13:34-37; Matthew 24:45-51

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, November 3, 2019

 

 

Jesus’ disciples asked him

what would be the sign

of his Second Coming and the end of the world,

and our Lord told them things to look for.

 

His answer included

wars and rumors of wars,

food shortages, earthquakes,

a raging ocean,

restoration of the Jews to the Promised Land

with Jerusalem in their hands again,

an increase in sinful behavior

and a large-scale falling away

from the faith.

 

But exactly when he would return,

and when the world would end,

the Lord did not pin down,

because he said it would take everyone by surprise.

 

Like the disciples who asked for

the sign of Christ’s return,

we, too, are interested in what to look for.

 

But the Lord is interested

in what condition he will find us in

and what he will find us doing when he returns.

 

And that’s what he speaks about

in the passages we’ll look at this morning.

 

If Christ said he would return

on November 15, 2019,

there would be lots of people

carrying on

with every sin imaginable,

and then repenting

just before that date.

 

People would be sinning, right up to the wire.

 

Jesus knows us.

 

He knows what we are like.

 

So, he left open the exact time of his Second Coming,

and told us to be ready at ALL times.

 

We’re going to look first at Luke Chapter 21,

but the same thought

is found in all 3 of the synoptic Gospels.

 

Jesus warns us, over and over again,

not to be caught off guard

when he returns.

 

And the same can be said,

if we suddenly face death unexpectedly,

and we are about to meet our maker,

even before the return of Christ.

 

But at Luke 21:34, our Lord is speaking specifically

about his return—his Second Coming—

which he says will catch many off guard.

 

He says,

 

34 “Be careful,

or your hearts will be weighed down

with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life,

and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.

 

The Lord is talking about two things here:

 

First, the things that can turn our hearts away from him,

 

and Second, the suddenness of his coming

which he compares to a trap springing shut.

 

At Matthew 22:37, Jesus called on us to

“Love the Lord your God

with all your heart

and with all your soul

and with all your mind.”

 

We can’t “love the Lord” “with all your heart

if our hearts are weighed down

by things that distract us from the Lord

and that turn us away from the Lord.

 

carousing” is one such thing

that weighs down our heart

and turns our heart away from the Lord.

 

drunkenness” is another thing

that weighs down our heart

and turns our heart away from the Lord.

 

Today, of course, “drunkenness” can refer,

not only to the result of abusing alcohol,

but also to being “high” on drugs.

 

And the devil, who Jesus called “the god of this world,”

is working hard

to hook an entire generation

of our children and grandchildren

on stupefying drugs—

to weigh-down their hearts

and keep them from Christ.

 

Our invisible enemy, Satan the devil,

is going to be taken out of the way

when Christ returns.

 

But, in the meantime, in these End Times,

in these Last Days of this wicked world

under his control,

Satan the Devilis working overtime

to take down as many people with him

as he can, when he goes down.

 

And “drunkenness” from alcohol or drugs

promotes self-indulgent “carousing” and sinful behavior.

 

People who are “high” from drugs

or ‘drunk’ and “carousing”

are not looking forward to seeing Christ return.

 

If Jesus shows up, to call you home,

and finds you “high” or ‘drunk’ and “carousing”

you’ll be greeting him

with shame and sorrow,

instead of with great joy.

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

 

Now, “drunkenness” and carousing”  are both obviously

forms of selfish, self-indulgent, bad behavior.

 

But Jesus also mentioned “the anxieties of life,

as another thing

that weighs down our heart

and turns our heart away from the Lord.

 

And that means just being too wrapped up

in every-day life—

not bad things like “drunkenness,”

but just ordinary everyday things

that can totally occupy our minds and hearts

to the point of crowding out

our devotion to God.

 

We all have to shop in stores

maintain our property

and work at our jobs

and spend time with our family.

 

But if these things occupy our whole focus,

leaving God out of the picture,

then they have the effect

of weighing down our hearts,

and turning our hearts away from God.

 

If we let the every-day “the anxieties of life

claim our full attention,

so that we have no time for the Lord,

then they have weighed-down our hearts.

 

Christ tells us,

 

34 “Be careful,

or your hearts will be weighed down

with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life,

and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.

 

The Lord is coming back,

and, if our hearts aren’t right with the Lord,

his sudden return

could prove just as unpleasant for us

as stepping onto a bear trap

that snaps shut its iron teeth

onto our leg.

 

Once a bear trap closes suddenly on you,

the damage is done.

 

It’s too late to be careful where you step.

 

The trap has snapped shut,

and all the regret in the world

won’t free your leg from the pain.

 

People whose hearts aren’t right with God

will find it worse than stepping onto a bear trap

when they are suddenly face-to-face

with Judgment Day.

 

Jesus tells us to be careful

not to let our hearts be “weighed down,”

which would put us in that awful situation.

 

And that warning applies,

not just to the sudden Return of Christ,

and the end of this world,but also to our own personal end.

 

A sudden illness or accident

could end our life unexpectedly,

and, if we are not walking with Christ,

we could find ourselves

suddenly facing the Throne of Judgment

unprepared.

 

But our Lord is speaking here

primarily of his sudden Return,

because he says in the next Verse,

 

35 For it will come

on all those who live

on the face of the whole earth.

 

He’s talking here

not about individuals facing a sudden end,

but of ‘the end’ coming suddenly on this wicked world.

 

The whole world will be affected

by this sudden event—like a bear trap springing shut—

because “it will come

on all those who live

on the face of the whole earth.

 

So, in Luke 21:36,

Jesus again repeats his warning:

 

36 Be always on the watch,

and pray that you may be able

to escape all that is about to happen,

and that you may be able

to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

“Watch” and “pray”that’s what Jesus tells us to do.

 

“Watch” for his coming,

and “pray” that he will find you in the right condition,

doing what you ought to be doing

when you find yourself face to face

with Christ, “the Son of Man.”

 

Will you be able to face him,

if he finds you “high” or ‘drunk’ or “carousing”?

 

Will you be able to face him

if he finds you totally wrapped up with “the anxieties of life”?

 

Wouldn’t you much rather

that Christ finds you “on the watch” for his Return?

 

Wouldn’t you much rather

that Christ finds you in prayer

than drunk and carousing?

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

 

In Mark Chapter 13, the Lord gives another illustration

to help us appreciate the need

to keep “on the watch” for his coming.

 

Beginning at Mark 13:34, he compares himself

to a householder

who has servants working in his household.

 

Speaking of his going away and coming back again, he says,

 

34 It’s like a man going away:

 

He leaves his house

and puts his servants in charge,

each with their assigned task,

and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

 

35 “Therefore keep watch

because you do not know

when the owner of the house will come back

whether in the evening, or at midnight,

or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.

 

36 If he comes suddenly,

do not let him find you sleeping.

 

37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!

 

Like the servants in that illustration,

each of us has our “assigned task

in the church

and in the body of Christ as a whole.

 

Whatever our gift is—the calling that God has given you—

whether preaching or teaching,

or showing hospitality,

or caring for the physical needs

of the church building,   or something else,

he should find us doing our “assigned task.”

 

When the Lord returns,

he should not find us sleeping.

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

 

Before departing for heaven,

Jesus gave us assigned tasks.

 

At Matthew 28:19, he said,

 

“Therefore go

and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them

in the name of the Father and of the Son

and of the Holy Spirit,

and teaching them to obey

everything I have commanded you.”

 

All of us can have a share

in doing that disciple-making work.

 

Some share in it by preaching and teaching.

 

Pastors, elders and deacons

are assigned to feed the flock of God, spiritually.

 

At John 21:15, Jesus told Peter,

 ‘Feed my lambs . . .

Take care of my sheep . . .

Feed my sheep.’”

 

And then Peter, at 1 Peter 5:2,

addressed the leadership in our churches,

when he said,

 

“Be shepherds of God’s flock

that is under your care,

watching over them—

and then he added

not lording it over those entrusted to you,

but being examples to the flock.”

 

For everyone else in the church,

we all have opportunities

to tell others

about the Good News of salvation in Christ.

 

It can be as simple as sharing your testimony—

telling someone what Jesus has done in your life—

or just inviting them to church.

 

And Jesus tells us to “keep watch.”

 

He says it 3 times in that little parable.

 

First, the householder

tells the one at the door to keep watch.

 

Then Christ says,

Therefore keep watch

because you do not know

when the owner of the house will come back.”

 

And he concludes by saying,

 

“What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!

 

That triple emphasis isn’t accidental.

 

It’s our Lord’s way of showing us

how important it is that we keep watch for his coming.

 

He really doesn’t want us to miss this.

 

So, at Matthew 24:45, he goes on to give us another parable

to illustrate the same point:

the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant.

 

Jesus says,

 

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant,

whom the master

has put in charge of the servants in his household

to give them their food at the proper time?

 

46 It will be good for that servant

whose master finds him doing so

when he returns.

 

47 Truly I tell you,

he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

 

48 But suppose that servant is wicked

and says to himself,

‘My master is staying away a long time,’

 

49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants

and to eat and drink with drunkards.

 

50 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.

 

51 He will cut him to pieces

and assign him a place with the hypocrites,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

Some pseudo-Christian cult leaders

have claimed over the centuries

that they, themselves, are “the Faithful and Wise Servant,”

as if that were some sort of title of authority.

 

And they have labeled

anyone who would not submit to their authority

as the “wicked servant.”

 

But that’s obviously a twisting of Jesus’ words.

 

The Lord was speaking to all of us,

encouraging each of us to be

a “faithful and wise servant”

by doing our assigned task.

 

And he says,

 

It will be good for that servant

whose master finds him doing so

when he returns.

 

When Christ returns at his Second Coming—

or, when he comes for us individually—

he doesn’t want to find us

beating our fellow servants

or eating and drinking with drunkards.

 

The punishment is severe

for those he finds in that condition.

Jesus says,

 

He will cut him to pieces

and assign him a place with the hypocrites,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

That’s the kind of language

that our Lord uses

only when he’s talking about those

who are sent into punishment after death.

 

Their place of torment is described as a place

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

 

So, it’s really serious

that we keep watch for Christ’s Return,

and that he finds us

doing what we ought to be doing

and living the sort of life

that we ought to be living.

 

This warning message from the Lord

is so important

that he gives us one parable after another

to make sure that we get the point.

 

Here in Matthew Chapters 24 and 25,

he gives us the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant,

which we just read,

and then he goes on to give us

the Parable of the Ten Virgins,

the Parable of the Talents

and the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. 

 

We’ll look at these others in coming weeks.

 

But they all teach us the same lesson—

a lesson so crucial for us

that it’s as if Jesus keeps saying,

 

‘Here, let me put it this way.”

 

And then, “Let me put it another way.”

 

He wants to make absolutely sure

that our hearts are not

“weighed down with carousing, drunkenness

and the anxieties of life.”

 

He wants to make absolutely sure

“that day”  will not “close on you suddenly like a trap.”

 

Because, as Jesus said,

“it will come

on all those who live

on the face of the whole earth.

 

36 Be always on the watch,

and pray that you may be able to escape

all that is about to happen,

and that you may be able to stand

before the Son of Man.”