Be Ready Matthew 24:36-51

Introduction:  remember Joseph? Not Jesus’ dad, but Jacob’s favorite son

  • He’s a great example of the faithful servant Jesus talks about in v. 45-6—the one who fed the household and the master found him obeying
  • Genesis 39:1-6  Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
    • The Lord was with Joseph—to protect and provide, but also God equipped Joseph for every good work he did
    • Good works in Potiphar’s house that led him to become the chief of servants
    • And then good works in Egypt that led him to become the second in command—the Vice-Pharaoh

In our passage, Jesus gives us an insight into his humanity, description of the final day of his coming, a call to be ready for that day, and a warning about what will happen for those who aren’t ready.

Jesus’ humanity:  v. 36—not even the Son knows the day and hour

  • Php 2:8 “being found in human form, he humbled himself”
  • In his humanity, Jesus didn’t know the day or the hour, but after the ascension he does, not that he’s not still human, but he is not longer humbled and his divinity is no longer veiled

The final day will come, at a time that no one will know

  • Compare v. 32 with v. 36
    • 32, ‘“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.
    • “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
  • The signs are evident, but no one will know the day or hour—prophetic language for “you’re your business”  Dt. 33;33  “the secret things belong to God”

Jesus describes the final day as a time for separation

  • The faithful will be separated from the unfaithful—
  • Jesus uses word pictures to get his point across in vv. 40-41  Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.
  • Servants who are either faithful, “set over the household, to give them their food at the proper time” or unfaithful, “beats his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards.”

He explains that the division is a blessing for the faithful and condemnation for the unfaithful

  • V. 46  “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.”
    • The reward—all his possessions. 
    • Co-heirs with Christ
    • Heavenly citizenship
    • Eternal life in the blessed presence of Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit
  • V. 50-51  the master of that servant 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 put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    • Warning over the condemnation:  HELL
      • Jesus talks more about hell than anyone else in the NT
      • The warning against rejecting God’s redemption is front and center in Jesus’ preaching
    • Hell is so much worse than we can ever imagine:  weeping and gnashing of teeth is prophetic language describing hell.  It’s symbolic but not hyperbolic, because Hell will be much worse than having your teeth removed without anesthetic and will cause you more anguish than what your body is capable of expressing with all of its moisture taken up in tears.
    • A sinner being in the holy presence of God without Christ acting as your shield from his holy wrath
      • That’s part of Christ’s work for the believer—the mediator and the shield
      • There’s more to his mediation, but there’s not less—Gen. 15:1 “Fear not Abram, for I am your shield.”
      • When you “put on Christ” you are being covered with His righteousness so that you won’t be punished for your sin
    • In hell there isn’t any covering from God’s holy wrath
      • Not only are you a sinner uncovered before God’s pure holiness
      • You are also a sinner convicted of rejecting his Son who could have covered you

What’s our application?  BE READY

  • Be ready for Jesus’ return
  • It means to live your faith day by day:  1. Be Consecrated; 2. Be Generous; 3. Be Ready with an Answer
  1. Be Consecrated, Exodus 19:1-11
    1. On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.” When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
    1. Here be ready means to be set apart , be consecrated, as God’s people
      1. It doesn’t mean to be so far removed from the world you aren’t any good in it
        1. Jesus said we are not of the world, but we’re still called to make disciples in the world
      1. Consecration is seen in V. 10 They had a ritual washing—this is an act of worship and devotion to worship God; to be God’s person, you have to be devoted to worshipping God.  Especially in the corporate sense.
        1. Question:  what do you call someone who sings, prays, reads the Bible, and listens to preaching in the church?  Presbyterian:  a Christian; Baptist:  how old is he?
        1. Silly joke, but gets the point across what a Christian is:  they sing, they pray, they read the Bible, and they come to church to do it.
      1. V. 5  Obedience, “if you will indeed obey my voice”
        1. You have to listen to what God has said and do it
      1. V. 5 Repent, “and keep my covenant”
        1. Of course, keeping covenant with God means obeying it, but we don’t, not perfectly—which is what’s required—so we have to do our part in restoring it.  That means repentance.
        1. Over a third of the OT laws dealt with what to do after you sin
        1. The whole sacrificial system is based on the truth that “sinners are going to sin”
        1. Repent truly, Repent deeply, Repent often—and remember that the Christian life isn’t a matter of repenting once, but a life of daily repentance and conversion
  2. Be Generous, be ready to give—2 Cor. 9:1-5  Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.
    1. Paul was collecting money for the church in Jerusalem during a severe famine so they could buy food. 
      1. They weren’t just throwing money at the issue, they were giving what other Christians needed most.
      1. This is reflected in James 2:14-16 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
    1. Not just money or earthly goods, a lot of us need something that’s not physical
      1. We need real, spiritual, deep, friendship
      1. Time
      1. Grace—genuine kindness and patience with our shortcomings
    1. Ask what your brother/ sister needs; Listen to what they tell you (don’t rush them, it might not be easy for them to put it in words—and read their face and body language); and act on it, treading lightly at first, and always with love.
  3. Be ready to give an answer—2 peter 3:13-15  Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
    1. You need to be able to express how your faith informs your actions, your values, and your life in general
    1. Our answer has to be well informed, truthful, and redemptive like the gospel is
    1. One of the biggest issues we’re facing is what “The World and Everything In It” reporter called the “hyper-trans” society being pushed on us
      1. Trans—transexual; the belief that our gender doesn’t match our biological sex, so if a man “feels like a woman” he should be allowed to change that
    1. How do we, as Christians, respond to that?  Love, Truth, Gospel
      1. Love—we begin and end with love, we accept all people, because they are God’s image bearers
        1. Every human being is made in God’s image, that’s what sets humans apart as the pinnacle of creation—even higher than the angels
        1. This is the basis for God’s call to love them all
      1. Truth—loving them because of God’s image in them doesn’t mean we lie to them and accept their sin
        1. True Love is Truthful Ephesians 4:15 links truth and love—“speak the truth in love”
        1. Two Sexes (not more) “God created them male and female”
        1. One of the purposes for marriage “Multiply and fill the earth” isn’t possible if you have this operation
          1. They probably don’t really care about Biblical truth so lead them to the logical end of their conclusion:
          1. It this is right, then its right for everyone, but if everyone did this, then there’d be no more humanity
      1. Gospel—transsexuality is a false reality and a sin, but we’re all sinners and the worst sins are paid for in the same way as the least—through Jesus’ blood
        1. 1 Cor. 6:9-11  Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
        1. Paul’s point:  the church is made up of sinners redeemed through Jesus’ work, God’s love, and the Spirit’s cleansing power.
    1. What do we do with Sinners?  What do we do with the worst sins?
      1. We invite them to be a part of church—this isn’t the Pharisees’ holy sanctuary cut off from the world
      1. The church is God’s hospital for sinners and the cure is Jesus’ blood. 
      1. We treat all people the same, but not all people are as equally receptive.  Hopefully within the church we are receptive to the simple formula:  show them love, show each other love, tell them the truth, tell each other the truth, and proclaim redemption in Jesus’ gospel.  Amen.