“A Jesus Who Gives Warning” Luke 12:35-13:9
Pastor Duane Smets January 21st, 2018
I. The Divine Responsibility (v.35-48)
II. The Divine Rescuer (v.49-59)
III. The Divine Ruling (v.1-9)
Last week we picked back up our study through the Gospel of Luke. We’d been away from it for a bit with Christmas Advent and the New Year. And last week was a sweet and fitting week easing back into it.
We saw and heard from Jesus, where He basically told us not to worry so much because He’s got us. He said we have anxiety and stress about money, our careers, relationships and so much stuﬀ and said to let it go, to focus on God and believe that He really cares for us and will care for us. Super super nice Jesus section.
This week is a little diﬀerent. In the section we’re looking at today Jesus shows us another side and gets pretty serious, saying some pretty gnarly things that He calls us to really think about and consider. So this is kind of a mean Jesus section today.
I think in the end, we’ll see He’s actually being extremely good and gracious to us. But I’m guessing if you’re anything like me, after first reading this, you’re response will kind of be something like, “dang Jesus!”
So I figure we might as well just read it right away and then I’ll tell you how I plan to tackle it. Before we read it, I’ll just tell you it’s a long section. When I divide up how much we’re going to read and work with on a Sunday I try to do my best to follow the natural breaks.
Most guys think this section is actually all part of one long sermon and teaching day that starts at the very beginning of chapter 12 and goes all the way to verse 9 of chapter 13. So we’re already kind of breaking things up. But this is a section that begins and ends with a parable and everything Jesus says in it is about living in light of the future, what is ahead for us and what His plans are for future when He returns to earth.
So why don’t you stand with me for a couple minutes in honor of Jesus and His words as I read this and then have us all thank God for it together?
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 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. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, 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 does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an eﬀort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the oﬃcer, and the oﬃcer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suﬀered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse oﬀenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord. •
Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
Alright, there’s a lot there. See what I mean? Kind sound like mean Jesus a bit? He says some pretty gnarly stuﬀ right?
Well, He’s actually being really gracious and saying some pretty insightful, helpful and wonderful things. The key to the whole section is verse 40, “…for the Son of Man is coming.”
The Son of Man was Jesus favorite term for Himself. It has connotations within it of Him being the Son, the Son of God. It has connotations of Him being the perfect man, the true and better son of humanity. And it was an Old Testament title and prophecy given for when God promised to come to earth in the flesh, right all wrongs and save His people.
Sometimes Jesus spoke of that promised being fulfilled when He came and walked the face of the earth teaching, preaching, healing people and then dying and rising. Other times He spoke of it as something to happen in the future. He kind of went back and forth between talking about these two comings.
Here in our passage today He’s clearly talking about that second coming. Here’s a couple other passages that fill out that picture.
About forty days after Jesus rose from the dead His disciples were asking Him about what was next and then this happened. Acts 1:9-11 “9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16 describes what that return will be like saying, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.”
This is the context of everything we’re looking at today, the future return of Jesus. When He came the first time He came as a baby, grew up in a poor family, worked as a carpenter, gave everything away and died naked on a cross. When He comes the second time, He will come as a full grown man, The King, with all the riches, angels and armies of heaven. In light of that there are things to consider…which if you kind of take all the stories, examples, and pointed words from Jesus in our text today and compile them together are basically warnings. Jesus is giving fair warning.
So I titled my sermon, “A Jesus Who Gives Warning.” Let’s think about warning for minute and then we’ll start working through the text.
Warning. Warnings. It’s pretty much what speed limit signs, stop signs, yellow police tape, signs on the beach after the rain telling you not to get in the water cause it’s nasty and will give you hepatitus…a lot of signage is all about warning. Warnings to tell you to be careful because if you’re not there’s danger.
I can’t imagine what was going through the heads of those people in Hawaii the other week when that siren sounding a missile warning went oﬀ. And I really can’t imagine what it was really like in cities and countries all over the world in World War I and II and it was a real thing with sirens going oﬀ telling you to take shelter and bombs are literally crashing into building around you. Can you imagine?
Warnings are meant to be a good thing to protect us from harm and to keep us safe. Warnings are a good thing and that’s what we have Jesus doing for us today, in His goodness and kindness He gives us warning concerning dangers that await us ahead if we don’t heed His words.
There’s kind of three diﬀerent subjects or things He gives us warning about, our responsibilities, our need for rescue and the ruling of God that is coming. So that’s my three points for today, “The Divine Responsibility”, “The Divine Rescuer” and “The Divine Ruling.”
In our home with my three kids one of their favorite games is Hide and Go Seek. You know how it goes right? One person is “it”, they count to 10 or 20 giving the others time to hide and then once they finish, what does the person who is “it” say? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10…”Ready or not here I come.”
So the one thing I’m hoping we’ll walk away with today is that ready or not, Jesus is coming. So let’s be ready.
I. The Divine Responsibility (v.35-48)
In this first section we basically have three diﬀerent parables or stories that are kind of all rolled in together.
The first parable is about a guy who seems to be pretty well oﬀ because he has a house and can aﬀord to have someone who lives at the house and takes care of it, likely in things like cooking, cleaning, meals, etc. The master of the house is away at a wedding party and wants to come home finding the house well taken care of.
Jesus gives two scenarios. In the first scenario, the master comes home and is finds things great and he’s so stoked he decides to take up the servant’s apron and makes a feast for the house sitter. In the second scenario, the master comes home, finds the house a wreck, the house sitter passed out and discovers a thief has come and stolen a bunch of stuﬀ.
Jesus’ point, as the Master, the Son of Man is to be ready and take good care of His house so that when He returns He can reward His disciples with a great feast.
The second parable is someone who is about a household manager to someone’s estate. He handles the master’s bank account, payroll in people that work for him, the upkeep of his property and everything. Jesus says in verse 42 what kind of household manager will the master want to hire? He gives two options.
One option is someone who will be faithful and wise and execute the aﬀairs of His estate well, doing a good job resulting in blessing and favor from the master.
The other option is someone who just parties it up while the master is gone, eating, drinking, getting drunk, abusing his position of authority and beating the other people on staﬀ.
The answer is a no-brainer. Obviously, you want the first one. Jesus point as the Master, the Son of Man is that He wants us to be faithful to Him, wise and doing a good job with the things He has entrusted us to do.
The third parable is an extension of the previous one imagining what the master’s reaction would be if He came home and found the house a mess, the household manger drunk and his other staﬀ beaten. And basically what Jesus says is the master is going to be upset. Very upset.
I mean think of it this way, we’ve had babysitters before for our kids when we had a wedding to go to. Imagine, if my wife and I came home and the house was trashed, the babysitter was passed out drunk on the couch and then I find out they beat my kids. I’m a gonna be real pissed!
The household manager is a goner. Jesus says He gets cut in half. In the Old Testament when two parties made a pact, like say over land, property or a house, they would take an animal, cut in in half and walk around the two pieces in a figure eight fashion to visibly say, if you break the terms of this pact the agreement is you get cut in half like this animal. So this is the master following through on what they agreed.
But Jesus doesn’t just stop there. He also says the other servants are in trouble to, because they didn’t stand up to the boss. Punishment comes not only for doing wrong but failing to do right. They didn’t exercise justice and receive varying degrees of punishment, which in the first century was the number of lashes person would according to the level of their crime.
Jesus point as the Master is that no one is going to get away with anything. Everyone is accountable to God for their actions. God sees all and knows all and one day He will return and everyone will have to give an answer for what they did or did not do.
This is really what all three of these parables have in common and where they conclude, in our divine responsibility before God.
What God has told us in His book the Bible, the instruction manual for life is that we were created in His image, with value and worth, that each one of us are diﬀerent, that He has gifted each one of us uniquely and has given us a job to do for Him.
Everyone is under authority and meant to live and serve God under His authority. We’re not supposed to squander the life He’s given us…just being lazy, partying it all up the time and abusing the time we’ve been given.
The goal is this, Titus 2:14 says Jesus came and “…gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” We ought to want to work for Jesus our Master, working and doing a good job for Him so that when He returns He will be pleased, bless us and reward us.
In the passage we looked at last week Jesus said to have our treasure be heaven. The way we store up treasure in heaven is by doing good works for God. Good works can’t get us into heaven but they show where our treasure is and what really matters to us… whether we are working for ourselves and our own pleasures or for God and His pleasure.
I’ll end this point then by simply saying this, you have a divine responsibility before God to not squander your life away but to live your life for Him, to be a good steward of His house and all that He has given you. Jesus warns us.
If Jesus returned today would you be ready? Would He be pleased with your work? Would He find you awake, being faithful and wise, taking good care of His house and His kids?
Or would He find you asleep? Squandering away your time and talent? Serving yourself instead of Him? If Jesus returned today would He be upset at you? Would He want to fire you or promote you?
Jesus will come. So let’s be ready and work hard for Him and His kingdom.
Let’s move on to our second point for today, “The Divine Rescuer.”
II. The Divine Rescuer (v.49-59)
In this second point we’re looking at three more sections where Jesus gives analogies aimed at calling us to recognize who He is as the Son of Man whom God sent to rescue broken and fallen human beings.
In the first section Jesus refers to Himself and His work on earth as baptism of fire that if embraced will change allegiances and relationships even among family members.
In the second section Jesus talks about being able to understand and recognize weather patterns and how in the same way we ought to be able to understand and recognize who He is.
In the third section Jesus compares settling outside of court to getting right with God through Him now, before He returns when it’ll end up far worse.
Let’s walk through each of these.
In verse 49-50 Jesus says, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!”
Fire. Baptism. And Jesus pretty intense desire for that. That word “distress” there was used to talk about a strait that forces a ship into a narrow channel. So what Jesus is talking about is the specific purpose for which He came to earth.
In John 12 Jesus said, "For this purpose I have come…(to be) lifted up from the earth (and) draw all people to myself.” And then John says in the next verse, “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
Jesus mission and purpose in coming to earth was to go to the cross and die, in order to draw people to Himself and save them. He came as the divine rescuer. And He was passionate about that. He felt deeply about it. Distress. Dedication. Determination.
In Mark 10:33-34 Jesus told His disciples, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death…And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” The four verses later referring to this Jesus asks His disciples this questions, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? (Mk 10:38)”
So one of the ways Jesus referred to His own death on a cross is as a “baptism.” Which is similar to the way we still see baptism today. Jesus said His followers should be baptized in water and the Bible says in Romans 6:3 “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.”
The reason Jesus had such a singular focus, vision and passion was because He came to rescue sinners and He knew the only way they could be rescued was through His death on the cross. You see, Jesus in the previous section Jesus had just unpacked this three diﬀerent, pretty gnarly scenarios about people who should be good servants of God, awake, ready, faithful, wise, working hard and standing up for justice.
But Jesus knew that every human being fails that divine responsibility. So in order to rescue human beings from the judgment of the master, God ultimate judge, Jesus oﬀers up His life on the cross as a payment on behalf of all who align theirselves with Him.
Jesus comes as the true servant of God, faithful, wise, working hard, standing up for justice for all kinds of people, poor people, sick people, racially discriminated against people…Jesus comes and is the only human being not to fail and instead to fully fulfill the divine responsibility we all have before God but then oﬀers His life up on cross, baptized in blood as if He were the worst failure of all so that His blood might cover all the sins of His people and pay the debt we owe and the punishment we deserve to God. Jesus was extremely passionate about doing that. The cross was His mission.
Now for those who get that, for those who believe that, for those who embrace it, they do so because this is THE greatest gift, THE greatest thing anyone could ever do for us. Jesus oﬀered up His life in a fiery baptism of death in order to rescue us and put us in right standing and right relationship with God!
What happens then inside the heart of those who believe this is it becomes very near and dear to them. It becomes the most important relationship of all. It becomes ones chief allegiance. So much so that you’re willing to lose friends and family over it.
When Jesus says in verse 51 He didn’t “come to bring peace on earth” He’s saying He didn’t come to bring any cheap peace. Jesus came to bring true and ultimate peace as the true peacemaker.
Today many people want and cry out for peace. But they want peace without confronting the real issues of our human hearts and what creates conflict within us and with others in the first place. Jesus didn’t come for peace at any cost but through paying the ultimate cost.
And when we embrace that kind of peace, it sets us apart. It makes us diﬀerent. If you hold onto truth and declare that truth, not everyone is going to like it, not everyone will like you for it. Following Jesus at times will cost you relationships.
In the first century, several stories are told of the progress of the church after Jesus returned to heaven and Jewish families became known for holding a funeral for family members who converted to Christianity. Following Jesus resulted in the loss of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends and family. It may cost you that. But Jesus is worth it. Being in loving relationship with God through Him is worth it!
Which is why Jesus brings up the two other stories about the weather and courtroom.
With the weather, where Jesus was at the time in the middle east would either have winds that blew in moisture from the Mediterranean Sea or winds from the Negev Desert that would blow in intense heat.
We don’t have a whole lot of whether to predict here in San Diego. Pretty much if you say it’s going to be sunny tomorrow there’s a 90% chance you’ll probably be right. For people in the middle east though know, it’s not hard, you can look outside, see the sky, feel the air and know what’s coming by the way the wind is blowing.
In the same way Jesus is saying all you got to do is step outside of whatever you’ve experienced or thought before about Him, take a good look at Him, feel the warmth of His love and it’s easy…you’ll know He is who He says He is…the Son of Man who came to save and rescue.
With the courtroom scene Jesus is addressing the benefit of recognizing who He is and getting right with God now before it’s too late. The analogy He uses is still true today. Going to court costs a lot of time and money. You gotta pay for court fees, lawyers, time away from work and then depending on the outcome there’s whatever settlement the judge decides on. Good rule in life. Avoid court at all costs.
In the courtroom of God, with Him as the judge, it’s a guaranteed outcome. We’re going to lose. We’ll pay every last penny and pay with our lives eternally. So Jesus would have instead to receive Him and His work, His payment to the judge on our behalf here and now…because if we wait until the end it will be too late.
Jesus came to rescue. Do you see that? Do you see relationship with Him as the most important relationship you have? If so are you investing in that relationship and living in light of it? Are you looking to Jesus or just ignoring Him?
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Jesus will come. So let’s be ready, recognizing Him for who He is and investing in that relationship as our most prized possession.
Well, we’ve got one last point for today, “The Divine Ruling.”
III. The Divine Ruling (v.1-9)
With this last point Jesus talks about death in terms of “perishing” and tells a few local stories.
The first is about something Pilate, the Roman governor at the time did when he had his soldiers storm into the temple and kill a bunch of people.
The second is about some tragedy that happens when a tower fell and killed eighteen people.
The third is about a fig tree that a farmer planted that for three years didn’t bear any fruit and faced being killed.
With the first two stories, Jesus says in regards to both of instances that neither thing happened because those people were worse than other people. He says all are sinners and oﬀenders and everyone will perish one day. In light of that we ought to repent and be ready for that day.
With the fig tree, typically a symbol for the people of Israel, Jesus is basically saying it’s had years to repent but hasn’t and if it doesn’t should be cut down.
Thus the two main issues Jesus brings up is the reality of death and what happens after that and the real need for repentance in light of that.
So let’s do the bad news and then the good news. The bad news is that death is a reality for all of us.
Hebrews 9:27 in the Bible says this, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
There’s a day every single one of us will die. None of us knows when it is. God knows, He’s appointed it. But none of us do. None of us know when we will die and how we will die.
Both the local stories Jesus used were unexpected events that happened suddenly. On Friday 142nd person in San Diego died from the flu just this season. A car accident. A heart attack. It could happen at any moment. It could happen today. Are you ready? Are you ready for what comes after?
After is the judgment where each of us will stand before God, the judge and give an account for what we did with our lives and in response He will give a ruling, a divine ruling. His ruling will be one of two answers: One, enter though good and faithful servant into the kingdom I have prepared for you. Or two, depart from me you cursed, to perish for eternity in the flames of hell.
Nobody wants to go to hell. Ten out of ten people on the street if they say they believe in heaven will say they believe they are going there. Jesus says the only for that is to repent.
But what does it mean to repent? Simply put “to repent” is to bear fruit. The fig tree is an example of this. It’s a tree that’s supposed to bear fruit but doesn’t. The parallel is someone who says their a Christian but there’s no real fruit in their life showing that they’re just a Christian in name. There’s no real evidence of them being a true believer in Jesus whose walking in relationship with God.
To understand what’s going on here there’s probably not a better passage to look at than Jesus’ own explanation of it in John 15.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit…Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” -John 15:1-8
So how do we not perish and be cut oﬀ and thrown into the fire? How do we repent and bear fruit? Very simple. Abide in Jesus. Believe in Jesus. Trust in Jesus. Walk with Jesus. Just Jesus. All we need is Jesus and we’ll bear fruit.
So real simple. Last question for the today. Are you abiding? How’s your abiding? Are you bearing fruit?
There’s a day coming, a divine ruling that will be made and only those who are abiding in Jesus escape a tragic sentence.
Ready or not, Jesus is coming. So let’s be ready and abide in Him.
Well, we started out today talking about warning signs. Jesus puts up some pretty clear warning signs for us didn’t He?
I appreciate Jesus’ honesty. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches. He tells us what He wants and expects and what we need. He knows us. He knows you and I are all sinners and wants to save us.
When we look at all He has called us to it’s clear that we can’t do it, but He did for us.
Jesus calls us to be alert, staying awake on watch but instead, we too like all of his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane have fallen asleep. But Jesus didn’t and took up the towel of the servant, washed the disciples' feet and promises a wedding banquet feast He prepares for us in heaven.
Jesus calls us to faithful and wise managers of His house and goods but instead, we’ve unfaithful and done stupid things. But Jesus didn’t He was faithful to God and His mission to the end and gave up His life for us.
Jesus says servants who squander what’s entrusted to them are cut in two and servants who don’t stand up for justice will receive a beating. We’ve all squandered God’s gifts and haven’t stood up for others when we know we should’ve. But Jesus didn’t and was beaten and cut in half on a cross for us so we wouldn’t have to be.
Jesus is our baptizer. He was baptized in death so we could be baptized into life and have true peace with God.
Jesus is our weatherman. He saw us in our need and came to us even though we were oblivious to Him and refused to look to Him and see Him as He is.
Jesus is our advocate. He settled out of court for us paying the debt we owe in divine blood so we wouldn’t have to pay it.
Jesus is our substitute. He died a tragic death so our sudden deaths won’t be tragedies.
And Jesus is our fig tree. We’ve been fruitless branches who deserve to be cut oﬀ and burned but He grafts us back into His vine and enables us to bear fruit.
You see everything we’ve read and looked at today is truly and ultimately about Jesus and the grace He extends to us. He warns us and that warning draws us closer and deeper into His love and grace.
Well, let’s prepare to respond. You can stand with me and we’ll read some words of Confession, allow God’s Spirit to work within us and then read some words of Assurance and partake of the wine and the bread as Jesus body and blood given to save us.
Lord we confess we’ve been unfaithful servants, sinners who fall far short of what you expect. We deserve judgment and confess our need for you.
Jesus is our Divine Rescuer. He gave His life for us so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. Thanks be to Jesus our Savior!