12th Sunday after Pentecost – C (Proper 14) LSB #663
Text – Luke 12:40
You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
I was on my way home from Colorado with a Ryder truck towing a trailer. It had been a long day. I was moving back to seminary after completing my internship. I wasn’t able to get the packing done on time the night before because so many people kept stopping to say goodbye. I’d gotten only 5 hours of sleep & hadn’t shaved that morning in order to save time.
At Omaha, Nebraska I came upon an hour-long traffic jam with road construction & two accidents added to the normal rush hour traffic. It was also pouring cats & dogs. When I arrived in Council Bluffs, Iowa for the night, I stopped at a Fairfield Inn & got soaked by the downpour in spite of running to the front door of the hotel.
Looking quite ragged I was ready for a good night’s sleep & no further complications. The clerk checked me in & gave me the key.
As I opened the door to my room, I noticed that the light was on. I thought, “Tom Bodet & Motel 6 haven’t got a thing on the Fairfield Inn.” As I walked into the room I noticed a dinner jacket in the closet. I’ve never stayed in a hotel ritzy enough to provide clothing. So it was then that I noticed the bed. It had an open suitcase on it & clothing was strewn all about.
At that moment, I realized I was an unexpected guest. I went back to the front desk & they said, “We were looking for you!” My reply, “I’ll bet you were!”
Have you ever been an unexpected guest? It’s a very awkward feeling isn’t it? Fortunately, no one was in the motel room at the time I was given the key. Nevertheless, I had a very strong desire to leave that room. I knew that I would not be welcome.
How about Jesus Christ, is He welcome in your home? I hope that strikes you as a silly
question. “Of course Jesus is welcome. We pray for that very thing before our meals, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest…’” However, you should keep the sermon text in mind as you consider your answer: “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Is Jesus welcome in your home even as an unexpected guest?
Has God ever appeared in your life at a very awkward moment? Has He chosen to arrive at a time when you would rather not have known Him? Maybe you were involved in an argument where you sensed you were wrong, but didn’t want to give up. You wanted to win. It’s getting heated & the other party finally says, all right, I surrender. You win & I forgive you.
Have you been there? You don’t want to be forgiven do you? You want to be right! Forget all this forgiveness stuff. That would mean I’m wrong. I don’t want to be wrong. Can’t you just leave me alone on this one God? Why do You have to butt in with forgiveness again? Who invited you anyway?
You see, I’m not talking about Jesus has arrived at your home & you’re uncomfortable because you haven’t vacuumed the carpet in a while, or cleaned the dishes after dinner. This Bible verse has nothing to do with the fact that you haven’t mowed the lawn or dusted your house in weeks. This is about whether or not you have built up your life in Christ.
Years ago, I was working with a certain man who’d been caught in a particular sin. After about a 30 minute, & difficult conversation, I said, “I’d like to close with prayer.” I asked him to begin & said that I would wrap it up. The man pleaded with me, “Pastor, please don’t make me pray.” That was the last thing I had expected to hear.
Whatever this man’s spiritual condition was, I was left thinking that Jesus had just become an unexpected guest.
Another time I was teaching an adult confirmation class & a mother told me this story
about her six year old son. He was enrolled in the Lutheran church’s school, & in religion class they were learning the Ten Commandments. In this particular story, she had taken the Lord’s name in vain, & her son said to her, “Mom, you just broke the 2nd commandment!”
The mother was embarrassed that her son had invited their heavenly Father into the room. For her, God had become an unexpected guest.
I’ve also seen that from a more personal angle on numerous occasions when a child has said a ‘bad’ word in my presence. Typically the parent will scold the child, “Don’t use that language when pastor is here,” or “We don’t talk like that in church!”
Either of those immediately makes we wonder if it is okay, in that family, to use such language outside the church, or when pastor is not in the room. In those cases, I end up feeling like the unexpected guest. That’s because, as a pastor, I do represent Jesus.
How about you? Are you expecting anyone? Are you planning & preparing for any particular upcoming event? Spiritually speaking, have you left your home to be broken into? Do you pray, “Come, Lord Jesus be our guest…” with absolutely zero expectation that He might actually be there? Or maybe, you’ve long ago given up on praying before meals at all?
Sin is pervasive & powerful. It corrupts everything we do, & everything we fail to do. Yet, even when we fall into sin, & give up on praying, or give up on expecting Jesus to be with us, we’re not in bad company. Do you recall the OT reading we heard from earlier? It was about a man whom Yahweh had called out of the darkness:
“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, & your father’s family, & go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you & make you famous, & you will be a blessing to others.’” (Genesis 12:1 NLT) But three chapters later, in this morning’s OT reading, Abram still has no child through which God can fulfill His promise. We hear that in verses 2 & 3: “But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, & the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring…’” Abram sounds like he’s drifting back into the darkness. God had made a promise, but there was still no answer.
Had he given up on Yahweh? Maybe, like Abram, you’re beginning to wonder if you should keep on waiting, keep on getting ready, keep on watching. It’s difficult because so many things in our lives are clamoring for attention, the Church & family included. Things are getting more & more complicated every day & it’s impossible to keep up with it all.
If you think about it in broader terms that sounds quite similar to the problem the rich man had in last Sunday’s Gospel lesson: “‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns & build larger ones, & there I will store all my grain & my goods.’” (Luke 12:17-18 ESV)
Even if you cannot relate to having too little space to store all your grain & your goods, you do understand having too little time to fit everything into your day. That’s where much of the stress & anxiety comes from in the people you know – yourself included. Jesus knows it too, because He addressed it in the Gospel reading to His disciples 2000 years ago:
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12:25 ESV) If you could invent a way to do it you’d be an instant billionaire. We use microwaves & smartphones & the internet, we multitask, drive on the expressway, & fly through the sky on jet airplanes, all for the purpose of fitting more stuff into our day.
Since we can’t build a larger clock, we try to shrink the amount of time it takes to do things so we can fit more of them into 24 hours. It’s not any different than trying to stuff more things into larger barns, & the same word of God applies to you & me as to the rich man: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself & is not rich toward God.” In the case of the rich man, in spite of all his plans, that very night God was an unexpected guest & all the man’s elaborate planning came to an abrupt end. His focus, his energy & his life ended without any of his plans including his heavenly Father. PAUSE
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus draws a contrast between the rich man & the ravens. Birds have no barns; they are scavengers who need to look for food every day. This distinction is important because it helps us to understand the relationship between trust & worry. Focusing more on the things of this life than on God will look awfully foolish once our Master returns.
“[Jesus] said to His disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, & the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, & yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?’” (Luke 12:22-26 ESV)
Jesus is educating His brothers & sisters about the value of priorities. When the rich man’s barns were too small it never occurred to him to give away some of his stuff. When the 24 hours that our Creator gives to us each day is too small, it should occur to us to do less stuff. Rather, we should spend more time on getting our soul ready.
“…know this,” Jesus said, “that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:39-40 ESV)
Heavenly Father, we confess before You right now, that we are more concerned & consumed with the things & the events of this world than we are concerned with the events of the Last Day & the things of the next world. We ask Your forgiveness for our foolish priorities. Since we do not know the hour You shall arrive, help us strive to be ready at all times.
Are you looking forward to having your Master return? If so, are you preparing for His
return? That is not a one & done project, because Christ’s love for us compels us to make all the decisions of life as children of the Light rather than as children of darkness. From today’s reading in the Book of Hebrews we heard of Abel, Enoch, Noah & Sarah:
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them & greeted them from afar, & having acknowledged that they were strangers & exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13 ESV)
As strangers & exiles here, Jesus calls us to not get too wrapped up in the stuff of this world. It is desperately broken, & we along with it. It is the devil’s desire that we should treat Jesus as an unexpected guest. In verse 32 of the Gospel reading, St. Luke makes it clear that: “…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Keeping our heart focused on the joy & the glory of paradise to come strengthens & encourages us to endure the trials & suffering of this life. By God’s grace, this world is not the end all & be all of our existence. Verse 37 tells us “The master will dress himself for service & have them recline at table, & he will come & serve them.”
Heaven’s glories are unfathomable to us now, yet they are our possession nonetheless. Until then, the next time you hear the prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest…” you would do well to expect the presence of your Lord & Savior Jesus there with you. He comes to serve you by releasing you from your sins & making you whole again. Amen.
Rise, my soul, to watch & pray; from your sleep awaken! Be not by the evil day unawares o’ertaken; for the foe, well we know, is a harvest reaping while the saints are sleeping. Watch against the devil’s snares lest asleep he find you; for indeed no pains he spares to deceive & blind you. Satan’s prey oft are they who secure are sleeping & no watch are keeping. Watch! Let not the wicked world with its lies defeat you lest with bold deceptions hurled it betray & cheat you. Watch & see lest there be faithless friends to charm you, who but seek to harm you. But while watching, also pray to the Lord unceasing. God protects you day by day, strength & faith increasing, so that still mind & will shall unite to serve Him & forever love Him. Amen. LSB 663:1-3, 5
Pastor Dean R. Poellet