Scripture: Matthew 24:42-51 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, `My master is delayed,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, 51 and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
The Lord Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again to restore us to eternal life with the Father in heaven, has promised to return again for our sake.
That day when the Lord returns will be joy and peace for those who are prepared – but grief and loss for those who have neglected or lost their faith. If you knew that a thief in the night was about to strike your home and threaten your life, wouldn't you seek to protect yourself from harm's way?
Jesus' parable of the thief in the night brings home the necessity for watchfulness and being on guard to avert the danger of plunder and destruction, especially under the cover of darkness and secrecy!
While no thief would announce his intention in advance, nor the time when he would strike, lack of vigilance would nonetheless invite disaster for those who are unprepared to keep their treasure and their lives secure at all times! The intruder strikes when he is least expected!
What is the treasure which the Lord Jesus wants us to guard lest we lose it? It is the treasure of his kingdom – a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). We can lose heaven and friendship with God if we allow Satan – the deceiver and father of lies – to rob us of our faith and trust in God!
The Lord Jesus fortunately does not leave us on our own – he stands watch with us to guide, direct, and keep us from harms's way. Jesus ends his teaching on watchfulness and vigilance with another parable about a master and his servants (Matthew 24:.45-49).
The storyline is similar. There is an element of surprise – the master suddenly returns home unexpectedly, probably from a long journey. He rewards the dutiful servant for his faithfulness to his master. He has performed his service with diligence and has done all that the master required of him. The master punishes the other servant who behaved wickedly.
This servant was not only irresponsible – he was frequently absent from work and spent his master's money by throwing endless parties with his friends. The wicked servant also abused his fellow workers with physical force and violence – probably to make them do the work he was supposed to do for his master. The master not only throws him out of his house, he fires him from his job!
He also throws him into the worst possible place – a prison of no return where there is nothing but torment and misery. Should we be surprised to see the master acting with such swift judgment? After all he is only giving back what they have given to him.
The master rewards the faithful servant with honor, promotion, and friendship, and he punishes the unfaithful servant – who stole from his master and used his position to abuse others – by removing him from his position of trust with the master and by throwing him into prison for robbing the master and mistreating his fellow servants.
The Lord has entrusted each of us with his gifts and grace – the grace to love God with faithfulness, trust, and obedience – and the grace to love our neighbor as ourself.
Do you love faithfulness?
The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself.
The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God's way of love, justice, and holiness.
The Lord's warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory.
God's judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him.
Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.