When I was a child, I remember my mom preparing for my dad’s return from work. The house was tidied up and the dinner was prepared. Mom knew when dad left in the morning, he would return that evening and she made ready. She was faithful in her task.
When Jesus left the earth 2000 years ago, he made it clear that although he had to leave for an indefinite time, he would also return in like manner. At the end of the age, Jesus will be the one to wrap it all up. When Jesus shows up, he will complete the work the Father orchestrated for him on the earth.
Although a couple thousand years have passed, He has not forgotten his promise. God does not dwell in time as we do. Heaven’s timetable is much different from our earthly timetable. God spoke and the world came into existence at His command. He also has preserved the earth with a command from His mouth that it shall continue as it is until He gives the command for Christ’s appearing. When God sets Christ’s coming in motion, even the very graves will yield to God’s voice and give up their dead. All creation will be affected by his coming.
In Peter’s second letter to the church, he reminded them “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (3:8). A thousand years seems like an eternity for us; but what would take us a thousand years to complete, God will accomplish in a single day. In John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, he writes “in one day, in one moment he can do the work of a thousand years. Therefore he "is not slow:" he is always equally ready to fulfill his promise.”
What are Christ’s followers required to do as we wait for his return? Jesus often got his point across by telling parables. This is exactly what he did when instructing us how to prepare for his coming. To stand around idle would be to not take his word serious. Therefore in Luke 12, Jesus makes it clear what a follower of his is to do. He makes an intriguing comparison of a servant and his master; us the servants and him our master. Although the label behind servant hood is not a sought after one, throughout scripture, Christ has always emphasized a high value on such a position. Faithful servant hood will not go unrewarded.
He begins by instructing the servant to let his “waist be girded and your lamps burning” (v.35). This suggests that we are to be ready at all times. In Biblical times, when robes were common, one would tie the hem to his waist in order to move swiftly and diligently without distraction. This demonstrated the eagerness and preparedness that the servant took as he awaited his master’s unknowing return.
Not only was the servant to make ready, but he was also told to keep his lamp burning. The burning of the lamp was an important task. The servant must be diligent in making sure the oil did not dry up or that the wick burned out. The fact that the servant would need a lamp at all indicates that the master would not return at a time of the day that would be expected. In fact, it was unknown to all what time he was to return. But if the servant were to doubt his master’s return and therefore not prepare and sleep, what would that say of that servant? He did not respect, love or honor his master enough to do what he knew was expected of him. He did not deserve to be steward over his master’s belongings.
The parable is ended by giving us a choice. Will we choose to be a faithful steward or an unfaithful steward? Faithfulness will be rewarded and unfaithfulness will be punished.
As believers of Christ’s imminent return, what are we doing to prepare? We have been placed here as stewards of Christ. We may not have literal robes to gird or lamps to burn, but our preparedness comes through obeying his word and doing what is right in his sight. Whether we are still on the earth when Jesus returns or we pass on before that day, how will we greet Jesus when we stand before him? Our lives will reflect the degree of commitment we have to him.