52. Sermon to the multitude (2 of 2)
Sermon to the multitude (2 of 2)…..THEN Peter said, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? and the Lord said,
Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them theirportion of meat in due season?
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
But if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with fewstripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committeth much, of him they will ask more.
¶I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
¶He said also to the people,
When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth: but how is it that ye do not discern this time? Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
¶When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.
¶There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Jesus said unto them,
Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
¶He spake also this parable:
A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
Scripture: Luke 12:39-48
Meditation 1 of 4:
What can a thief in the night teach us about the kingdom of God? Jesus loved to tell stories, many which ended with a dramatic and unexpected change of circumstances. Can you imagine a thief calling ahead to tell his victim when he would strike? Should we be surprised to see a thief making off with a great treasure left unguarded? What does this say about the treasure which God has entrusted to you and me? When God offers us his kingdom, he gives us a treasure beyond measure hidden in a field and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-46). What is this treasure of immeasurable value? The Lord himself is our treasure (Job 22:22-23) and the kingdom he offers us is a kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness (Rom. 4:17). The Lord offers us a relationship with him as his sons and daughters and the promise of eternal life as well. The treasure is of far greater value that any earthly treasure and more secure! But it’s possible to lose this treasure if we do not guard what has been entrusted to us by God. Is your treasure secure?
This parable also contains a lesson in faithfulness. The Lord loves faithfulness and richly rewards those who are faithful to him. What is faithfulness? It’s keeping one’s word, promise, and commitments no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us. Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to remain faithful. He also rewards faithfulness. The joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it an awesome responsibility. The Lord expects us to make good use of the gifts and graces he gives to us. The more he gives, the more he requires. The temptation while the Master is away is to put off for tomorrow what we know the Master expects us to do today! Are you faithful to God and ready to give him an account of your stewardship?
“Lord, you are faithful even when I fail. Help me to remain ever faithful to you and to not shrink back when I encounter difficulties. Make me diligent in the exercise of my responsibilities and wise and prudent in the use of my gifts, time and resources.”
Scripture: Luke 12:49-53
Meditation 2 of 4:
Jesus shocked his disciples when he declared that he would cast fire and cause division rather than peace upon the earth. What kind of fire did Jesus have in mind? Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deut. 4:24), righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16). It is also used of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11 and Acts 2:3). God’s fire both purifies and cleanses, and it inspires a reverent fear of God and of his word in us. Jesus regarded the coming of the kingdom of God as a time of judgment. His word of judgment was meant to help people take seriously the consequences of their choices — either for or against God. Our response to the judgments of God has serious repercussions, both for the present and the future. Jesus states that even family loyalties would be challenged on the basis of whether people accepted the kingdom of God or not. The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Jesus Christ, a loyalty that takes precedence over every other relationship. When Jesus spoke about division he likely had in mind the prophecy of Micah: a man’s enemies are the men of his own household (Micah 7:6). The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship (or anything else) above God is a form of idolatry. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies, if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (2 Corinthians 5:14)?
“Lord, may your love consume me and transform my life that I may truly desire nothing more than life with you. Make me strong in love and fidelity that nothing may hinder me from doing your will.”
Scripture: Luke 12:54-59
Meditation 3 of 4:
How good are you at reading signs? Jesus expects his disciples to read the signs of the times accurately! While modern technology gives us greater accuracy for pinpointing troublesome tempests and quakes, our ability for discerning spiritual trouble and averting spiritual disaster seems to be in need of desperate repair or at least improvement. How good are you at reading signs? The people of Jesus’ time expected that the coming of the Messiah would be accompanied by extraordinary signs and wonders. False messiahs had made great claims to attract followers, such as cleaving the Jordan River in two or causing the walls of Jerusalem to fall. Jesus knew the hearts of those who came to test him. They were more interested in signs and supernatural phenomena than they were in the word of God. Simeon had prophesied at Jesus’ birth that he was “destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that inner thoughts of many will be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). Jesus gave them no sign except himself and the ultimate proof of his divinity when he rose from the dead. The Lord reveals himself to us in many ways — in his word and in the “breaking of the bread” in the Lord’s supper or eucharist, in his Church — the body of Christ, in his creation, and even in the everyday circumstances of our lives. If we seek the Lord, we can be confident that he will give us everything we need to do his will. Most of all the Lord assures us of his presence and the promise that he will never leave us. Theresa of Avila’s prayer book was found to contain a bookmark inscribed: Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices. Is God enough for you?
Jesus used a vivid illustration to point out the urgency of getting right with God. If you were up against a bad cause and were likely to get severely penalized, would you not try to settle the case out-of-court to avoid a worse penalty? Each of us stands in constant need of God’s love and mercy. His light reveals what is in our hearts and his grace frees us from the tyranny of sin. God’s call is urgent and his grace is available for complete transformation in Christ. Are you ready for his grace and action in your life?
“Lord, change my heart and my life that I may fully live for you. Help me to choose what is right and to turn away from every sin and from every attachment to worldliness which keeps me from loving and serving you wholeheartedly.”
Scripture: Luke 13:1-9
Meditation4 of 4:
What can political calamity and natural disaster teach us about God’s kingdom and the consequences of our actions and decisions? Jesus addressed two such incidences with his Jewish audience. Pilate, the Roman governor, perpetrated the unspeakable crime of butchering Jews in their temple, thus profaning their act of worship and incurring the wrath of God. In a similar fashion, King Henry II of England incited his knights to murder the archbishop Thomas a Becket in his cathedral on December 29, 1170. Who wouldn’t be outraged at such acts of political barbarity and sacrilege? The other incident was a natural disaster, not linked with any particular political or religious motive. The Jews associated such disasters with sin. Scripture warns that sin can result in calamity! Though the righteous fall seven times, and rise again; the wicked are overthrown by calamity (Prov. 24:16). But the Book of Job also tells us that misfortune can befall the righteous as well as the unrighteous.
Why does Jesus link a political-religious calamity with a natural disaster? Jesus intended these incidences to serve as signs helping us to avert worst disaster by preparing spiritually for the age to come. How does God’s judgment relate to these signs? Just as natural signs point to what is happening today, so God gives us signs which indicate his action and intervention in our lives, our churches, and in the world. Why does God judge? He judges to purify and cleanse us that we might grow in his holiness and righteousness, and to removes those who stubbornly rebel against him. He also judges his people to chastise and discipline us and to inspire a godly fear and reverence for him and his word. Are God’s judgments unjust or unloving? When God’s judgments are revealed in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:9). To pronounce God’s judgment on sin is much less harsh than what will happen if those who sin are not warned to repent.
What can barren fig trees tell us about the kingdom of God? Fig trees were a common and important source of food for the Jews. Bad figs or a decaying fig tree was linked with evil deeds and spiritual decay. The unfruitful fig tree symbolized the outcome of Israel’s unresponsiveness to the word of God. The prophets depicted the languishing fig tree as signifying the desolation and calamity of Israel due to her unfaithfulness to God (see Joel 1:7,12; Habakuk 3:17; and Jeremiah 8:13). Jeremiah said that evil people are like rotten figs (Jeremiah 24:2-8). This parable of Jesus depicts the patience of God, but it also contains a warning that we should not presume upon it. God gives us time to get right with him, but that time is now. We must not assume that there is no hurry. A sudden and unexpected death leaves one no time to prepare to settle one’s accounts when he or she must stand before the Lord on the day of judgment. Jesus warns us that we must be ready at all times. Tolerating sinful habits and excusing unrepentant sin will result in bad fruit and eventual destruction. The Lord in his mercy gives us both grace and time to turn away from sin and from worldliness, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a day, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. Do you hunger for the Lord’s righteousness and holiness?
“Lord, increase my hunger for your righteousness and holiness. May I not squander the grace of the present moment to say “yes” to you, to your will, and to your way of holiness.”