Watching for Jesus’ Coming Is Rewarding
Of all the teachings of the Bible, the second coming of Jesus is one of the most thrilling of them all. It is founded on fact, promised in prophecy, and expected with eagerness. Where ever you turn in the pages of the Bible, you constantly read of the need to be ready for the return of Christ.
One commentator made this interesting observation:
The scriptures give constant testimony to the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ will come again. If you take your Bible and read through from the beginning, you will be amazed at the reiterated truth of the Second Advent. If we were to take out of the Bible every reference to the second coming of the Lord we would have a terribly mutilated Book! This is no “pet theory” accepted by a few “cranks”; it is a major doctrine of the Word of God. It has been said by scholars that the second coming of Christ is mentioned no less than 1,200 times in the Old Testament and 300 times in the New Testament. If we read our Bible and believe our Bible we cannot do other than be certain that the Saviour is coming again. The fact of his return is clearly and emphatically stated, in prediction, type, parable, and promises. (The Complete Speaker’s Sourcebook)
This observation underscores the idea that Christ’s return is not only a Bible fact, but since this fact is repeatedly referred to in the Bible, it must therefore be very vital for our consideration. Indeed, Jesus himself continually spoke of his return as he went about proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He often taught his followers about his return through the use of illustrations with moral lessons attached to them which we commonly call parables.
In the next three posts, starting with this one, I am going discuss three parables of Jesus from Luke 12 concerning the necessity to watch for his return. The first of these parables is about the reward of being ready for Jesus’ second coming.
Luke 12:35 “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. 36 Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 38 Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. (New American Standard Bible, NASB)
An appropriate title we could give this parable is, “The Waiting Servant.” It parallels Mark’s account in Mark 13 in which Jesus explains, “Therefore, keep watch because you [the people who are listening] do not know when the owner of the house will come back,” (13:35). In the Gospel of Luke account, all the servants are expected to be immediately ready to serve their master the night he returns from a wedding banquet he attended. The servants are to be dressed and ready to report for duty with their lamps burning brightly.
“Let your loins be girded about…” (v. 35, King James Version, KJV) In Bible days, an essential article of oriental clothing was the girdle worn by both men and women of that time. This is not exactly like the Playtex girdles worn by women in modern times. Ancient girdles were not used so much for fashion or for providing a proper figure. Rather, girdles back then were more like wide belts as they served a very practical purpose. Due to the fact that Eastern dress included long, loose robes, it would be difficult to walk or run unless their robes were tightened close to the bodies which called for the use of girdles.
This article of clothing consisted of various sizes and materials. The wealthy wore silk or linen girdles and sometimes decorated them with gold, silver, and precious metals. The poor wore coarser ones with leather being commonly used. The prophet Elijah’s girdle was of leather (2 Kings 1:8) which incidentally was the same as John the Baptist’s girdle (Matt. 3:4). This was a sign of humility and service. (Cp. Ephesians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13.)
Girdles were rolled tightly around the waist on the outside of one’s clothing. Then, as it became necessary to allow freedom of motion, the skirts of one’s robe would be tucked into the girdle. This is how we get the phrase, “having our loins girded for service,” as the King James Version words it. There are a couple of examples of this in the Old Testament.
I already mentioned the prophet Elijah. He is said to have “girded up his loins” in preparation for running. In fact, God performed a miracle through the prophet when this procedure was used:
1 Kings 18:44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (KJV)
Imagine the surprised look Ahab must have had on his face as Elijah, with robes tucked into his girdle, speeded on foot past the galloping horses which were pulling the chariot along. I envision this like you would an old-time movie that has been put in fast-speed motion. Only this wasn’t a movie; it was real.
Another time the girding of loins is mentioned is when the Israelites were commanded to be ready for a quick exodus from Egypt the night of the Passover. They were instructed, “And thus shall ye eat it [the meal] with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover,” (Ex. 12:11, KJV).
From these examples, when he spoke of being ready as one who has his loins girded, Jesus was showing the importance of being prepared for his second coming, even at a moment’s notice. He reinforces his point by telling of the need to “keep your lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet,” (Luke 12:35, 36, KJV).
Believers do not let their lights go out. They keep their lives shining through faithful service and devotion to Christ and his teachings. They keep their lamps trimmed and bright, so to speak, through the night while in this dark, sinful world, in expectation of the One whose coming is soon. It implies that during preparation, there’s a period of darkness in which believers must stay awake, serving with all readiness for Jesus to come back. (Compare Matthew 5:16.)
Jesus indicated that such preparation is worth the effort for when the Master comes through the doors, he will honor those servants who are ready. “Happy are those servants” who are ready, according to Jesus. Jesus portrays the close relationship that exists between himself and his followers. Those who are ready and waiting for his return will sit down for the joyous feast and be served by the master, himself, as he commends them for their loyalty, obedience, and faithfulness. (cp. Revelation 19:6-8). Christ likens his role as a servant to show how we must also play this role if we expect to be exalted in the Kingdom.
Jesus told his twelve disciples,
Luke 22:27 For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. 28 “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; 29 and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (NASB)
In Part 2 of my next post, I am going to discuss another parable that illustrates how watching for Jesus’ return contains a warning.
Good News to you!