The old Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared," should also be a motto for every follower of Christ. Boy Scouts are supposed to be prepared for whatever might happen, but Christians should be prepared, above everything else, for the return of Jesus. He said He will come when "least expected" (Luke 12:40). Thus, there exists the potential for people to be caught off guard. Some will be very surprised and completely unprepared.
What is it that will determine who is prepared and who is unprepared for Jesus' return? Those who are obeying Jesus will be prepared, and those who are not obeying Him will be unprepared. Jesus said we should wait for Him as a servant waits for his master to return from a wedding feast. This once again teaches us that, although we are saved through our faith in Jesus, real faith manifests itself in obedience. If Jesus is truly our Savior then He is also our Master, and we are His servants.
Unfortunately, there are many people who think they are Christ's servants but who prove they aren't by what they do. Specifically, Jesus mentioned people who oppress His other servants (see Luke 12:45). At another time, Jesus said that love for one another is the mark of His true disciples (see John 13:34-35). Those who oppress and hate Christians definitely aren't Christians. Jesus also specifically mentioned in today's reading that some of the unprepared will be partying and getting drunk. The Bible plainly teaches that drunkards will not get into heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:10).
According to Jesus, at His return the unprepared will be treated just like unbelievers (see Luke 12:46), with one exception. They will be punished even more severely because they knew their duty, but refused to do it. Those people who are found to be disobedient at Christ's return but who didn't know much about what He expected of them will be punished less severely. This indicates that the "unprepared" of whom Christ was speaking are probably professing Christians, supposed servants of Christ who have some knowledge of the Bible, but who are not really saved. Both the knowledgeable unprepared and the ignorant unprepared will be banished to hell, although their punishments will vary there. This means that it would be much worse to be the child of Christian parents and only a "church kid" who has no real relationship with Jesus than an ignorant pagan who knows little about Jesus. Both will spend eternity in hell, but the "church kid" will be punished even more severely there.
Jesus said that the servants whom He finds doing His will when He returns will receive a special favor and reward. Amazingly, Jesus said that He would reward His obedient servants by serving them a meal! God foretold through the prophet Isaiah of a fabulous meal that He would prepare for His people: "The Lord Almighty will spread a wonderful feast for everyone around the world. It will be a delicious feast of good food, with clear, well-aged wine and choice beef" (Isaiah 25:6). We can also read in the book of Revelation about something called "the wedding feast of the Lamb" and how blessed are those who are invited to it. If you are a true follower of Jesus who is prepared for His return, you're one of those blessed ones!
Q. Kids of Christian parents often outwardly conform to their parents' standard of behavior while they're growing up, but once they grow old enough to leave home, their lifestyles change dramatically for the worse. What does this tell us about those kids?
A. They were perhaps never really saved in the first place. That is why parents should not only teach their children about what is right and what is wrong, they should teach them why certain things are right and certain things are wrong. And even more importantly, they should teach their children about Jesus and who He is, so that their children's good behavior results from their personal relationship with Him and their desire to obey Him---not just a temporary outward conformity.
Q. Jesus compared Himself to a burglar in today's reading. At other times He compared Himself to a "thief in the night." Why would Jesus ever use evil people to describe Himself?
A. Both comparisons teach us the limitations of comparisons and the foolishness of trying to find too much meaning in Jesus' parables and metaphors. Remember that a metaphor is a comparison of things that are basically not the same, but which have some striking similarities. The only similarity between Jesus and a burglar is that people are not expecting either, and are caught by surprise when they come. That is where the similarities end.
Application: If Jesus returned at this instant, are you ready this instant?
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