A Litany of Advice
This week’s text is Luke 12:32-40. This is a veritable litany of sayings and advice from Jesus. Some of His more familiar quotes are in this short passage. As with many biblical passages, you could write multiple commentaries about this text. If you have ever listened to a preacher sermonize all the various points in a text, you know the dangers of this approach. It is best to focus on one thing or to glean a theme form the text. I will attempt to pull a broader theme from this text.
The Uncertainty of When
The theme that jumps out at the reader is that we simply do not know when Jesus will return. We do not know when the Judgement Day will arrive. Frankly, neither does Jesus. There are three schools of thought regarding the when of the return, two of which get it wrong. There is the idea of premillennialism. This is the idea that Jesus will return, then establish His kingdom on earth for 1000 years. The other notion is postmillennialism. This is the idea that we are to set up the kingdom of God on Earth first, then Jesus will return.
The best take on this is the notion of amillennialism. This is the idea that we do not know when Jesus will return. One reason this is a better take is that this is what Jesus Himself says. Verse 40 sums up several lines of text by stating “The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour”. This text does not explicitly say that Jesus does not know, but there are other references in scripture that indicate this (see Matthew 24:36). If, in fact, Jesus does not know when, how could we possibly know?
The Immediacy of Our Response
The uncertainty of His return, which for us as individuals occurs at the hour of our death, leads us to the immediacy of our response to Jesus. This is what Jesus outlines for us in Verses 32-38. Be ready, have your lamp lit, sell your possessions, and give alms, simply be prepared. It is not so clear as to what this means specifically for us as individuals. This text states that we are to sell our possessions, other texts are not so clear. In all cases we are to use the resources we have been granted as stewards (not owners), to further God’s kingdom and assist His children. What this specifically looks like will be different for each of us.
The point is that we are to orient ourselves to a life of service in His name. This is what it means to be prepared; to always be trying to proclaim the good news and give witness to our faith. It is this faith that drives us. Our belief in Jesus as risen Lord and savior impels us to respond to this gift of salvation the best we can, in all that we do. As always, we do the best works, we can in response to the gifts of God, not in order to get those gifts. Once we accept the gift, we are to get busy right now and act with gratitude. We are to act this way as a response to God’s gifts until the end, and since we do not know when this is, we best get busy right now. So, let us all go forth first believing, then obeying.
Praise Be to God