Don’t Be Afraid—Be Prepared


Luke 12:35–48

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 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. 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. 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. 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. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

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? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 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.

“The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 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.”

Consider This

Today’s text continues this series of warnings. We began with the warning against the influence of the Pharisees: hypocrisy. Next Jesus warned about the pursuit of possessions and then about the anxiety that comes from the fear of poverty.

In every case, Jesus makes sweeping contrasts with the way the world works and thinks and the way the kingdom of heaven works. The world operates from a place of scarcity while the kingdom works from a place of abundance.

Jesus has inaugurated the era of the mercy of God, the time in which repentance and reorientation of one’s life are not only possible but empowered. The kingdom of God is now breaking in upon the broken world order. Repentance is about getting on board. Jesus reveals what life looks like in the world of God’s highest intentions. In these texts we are witnessing him teaching and training people to do this.

Today Jesus puts his teaching into a much larger framework: the end of time and the final consummation of the kingdom. The time will come when all the wrongs will be righted, when justice will finally be served and evil eradicated. Jesus teaches his followers and anyone who would listen not to be afraid but to be prepared. There is an urgency to all of this. This is not a self-improvement program.

We are moving into the heart of the season of Lent now. One of two things can happen at this point. We can grow in our focus or we can get lost in the middle. The middle is like a minefield laden with a thousand trip wires in the form of distractions. It’s time to up our attention game. I can’t stress it enough. One of the key ways of focusing attention is through an unrelenting obsession with these words. If I were your doctor, and I’m not, I would write you a prescription to say this prayer one hundred times a day.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

The Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a son/daughter.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a saint.

The Question

When it comes to the return of Jesus and the end of the age, are you more afraid or more prepared or somewhere in between, which unfortunately trends toward ambivalence?