Text: Matt 24:32-51
Father, we are here to hear from You. We’re children in the Father’s house, a house of prayer. We want to hear from You. We want to fellowship with You. We want to dialogue and converse with You. Jesus, You’re the Head of the Church, and so we submit ourselves to be led and to be shepherded by You. Holy Spirit, You’re our Counselor, we ask You to counsel us and direct us on how we should live. Speak, Lord. In these times, we need direction from You. Speak, Lord. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen
32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This is Jesus’ final week. And He gives a series of parables after Palm Sunday. The triumphal entry. And here is one of his final sermons to his disciples. And if this is one of Jesus’ last words, I think it’s very important. We know Jesus’ first words–the Sermon on the Mount is very important. Jesus’ final words, likewise, are very important. And I think this is a teaching that is not popular. And I am concerned that the church is asleep. And it is time for the church to wake up. Because if this is so important that Jesus dedicates a sermon and a series of parables during his final week to his disciples, I don’t know why it is not taught more.
In the one area that I think we need to repent of, and turn and start believing is that Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming. And the church is asleep. The church does not believe that He’s coming. Actually, we believe quite the opposite. We believe that He’s delayed. And, of course, nobody knows the day and the hour. And if anyone says, I know, I figured it out, God told me it’s on this particular day, this month, this year, if anybody tells you that, you must run from that person. He is a false prophet because who knows the day or the hour? Not even Jesus knows. Only one person knows–the Father. And when that time comes, He will tell the Son. Go reclaim your kingdom. So we don’t know the day or the hour, and we make the mistake of saying, Jesus is not returning soon. I don’t need to talk about it because we can’t reach any intelligent conclusion. Because we’ve been waiting, He seems delayed. Why do we even need to talk about His return? Jesus said this two thousand years ago.
What did he say? Says in verse 32. When you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates. The literal translation is He is at the door. And what are these things? If you read in Matthew 24, it mentions some of the signs. For many will come in my name saying, I am the Christ. And they will lead many astray. Even in Jesus day, when Paul and the apostles were ministering, there were many false teachers, many antichrists, people who took the place of Christ because that’s what it means to be an antichrist. You take the place of Christ. Many more have come since the time of Jesus, and now there has been an exponential explosion of people who are antichrists. Many false teachers, many false religions. The numbers have exploded.
Even in the Church. There is confusion. Who can I trust? And then verse 6. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Verse 7. Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines and earthquakes in various places. Every day I turn on the news, I see a war or hear of a rumor of war. I see people on opposing sides trying to stoke the fires. Are we going to go to war with Russia? China? Saudi Arabia? Iran? And famines and earthquakes. There’s been so many hurricanes this year. And earthquakes. These are birth pains. Verse 8. These are the birth pains of creation, and these are signs. Jesus is right there. He’s at the door. And in the final days, there’ll be such tribulation it says you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And that hatred has begun. It is not specifically targeting Christians yet here like it is in other parts of the world. But the hatred is coming even here in America.
It’s starting right now with targeting conservative speech. Conservative values are under attack. They’re taking away free speech. There’s only one type of speech that is permissible, and the elites label certain speech that they disagree with as hate speech. Be sure that the weapons of the Enemy are already aimed at the Christians in this country. At some point, during the end times, all the nations will hate you. And that means, as Christians, we better prepare. If we don’t like standing out, if we don’t like being in the minority, if we don’t like it when somebody says something bad about us, if we don’t have thicker skin, when all the nations hate on you because of Jesus, will you be able to stand? Or will you buckle under the pressure?
It says in verse 12, lawlessness will be increased. And because of the lawlessness increasing, the love of many will grow cold. I’ve had to stop reading the news because every time I read it, I see lawlessness. This lack of justice, lack of transparency, corruption, what is this? And I feel my heart growing cold so if I just have to turn off. It is not helping me, reading the news is actually hurting my faith. I feel the coldness of my heart setting in. It makes me wonder, God, why are you allowing this to happen? Where’s the justice? Where’s the righteousness? Is there any honesty anymore, like who’s telling the truth? I can’t tell who is telling the truth. We’re in a lawless age. The rule of law no longer applies to the elites. And it says, verse 13. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And these days, it says elsewhere, verse 22, that these days will be so difficult that for the sake of the elect, you and me, or whoever is is alive during this final tribulation, that it’s going to be so difficult that the days will have to be cut short. Otherwise, nobody would be able to stand. Because it’s only the one who stands firm to the end who will be saved.
We don’t like the idea of having to endure. This kind of tribulation, this type of lawlessness, this level of hatred from all the nations, we don’t like the thought of it. And so what did we do? We created this theology called rapture, which I do not see in Scripture. Because if there is a rapture, we’re saying that there’s 3 Comings. There’s the first coming recording in Scripture. There His last coming where everything ends and is made new–what we commonly call the Second Coming. But there’s an in-between Coming, a secret Coming where He only comes for the Church. That means He comes three times. I don’t see it in Scripture.
In Matt 24, when it says that one will be taken and one left, this is talking about Jesus’ Second and Final Coming. There’s no secret middle coming. He’s coming to inflict judgement on the world. Because at one point, in Noah’s day, judgment came through a flood. The world was baptized, immersed in water and destroyed. But when Jesus comes a second time, the world will be baptized, immersed in fire, and it will be burned up. So when Jesus comes, one will be taken, one left. The ones who are taken will be meeting Him in the air to welcome our King, and to escape the final judgement and the burning and recreation of the heavens and the earth. And we will rule and reign with Christ and that’s it.
There’s so many fancy theologies of post-tribulation, pre-millennial, secret rapture of the Church. Why did we invent these things? It’s because Christians don’t like suffering, we rather be taken out. And we think that we will be taken out before this great tribulation. If the Church is raptured, then who are the elect because it says the days are cut short for the sake of the elect? Who are the elect? If all of the elect have already been raptured, the verse doesn’t make sense. We created this theology because we don’t want to suffer, esp. in America. We popularized it here, and we read Matthew 24 and say, The suffering doesn’t apply, because the church won’t even be here. It’s so great that we don’t have to suffer, right? Then, why does Jesus say that only the one who endures to the end will be saved, meaning if you are alive during this great and final tribulation, will, you and I be able to withstand the hatred of the nations, the betrayal at the hands of those you thought were brothers and sisters in Christ but instead take you to the synagogues and churches to be flogged?
Only the Christian who endures to the end will be saved. And the Church doesn’t believe that Jesus is coming. The Church doesn’t believe that Jesus is at the door. Because if you believed that He could come at any minute, you and I would live so differently. Instead, because none of us know the day or the hour we think we can just relax. You read the epistles, the letters in the New Testament. And you listen to what Paul says and what Peter says. In the first century, when the Roman emperors were rounding up Christians and burning them and sawing them in two and persecuting them under emperors like Nero, you better believe the Christians believed Jesus could come back in their lifetime. Jesus could come. You better believe they had that sense, that Jesus is not delayed. He could come at any minute. And of course, I want him to come because I’m suffering so much. There are so many places in the New Testament where it talks about the end times and being ready because they are living in what they perceived was the end.
In A.D. 70, the Romans came and they utterly destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. And that was a foreshadowing of what will happen at the end of human history, not only in Jerusalem, but on the whole earth. And this teaching is not popular here in America because we want to live our lives. You want to live your life. The idea that Jesus could come tomorrow, this moment, any moment, it really changes the way you look at everything. It changes the way you look at your future, the way you plan. I mean, if the church really believed that He could come at any moment, would we do church the way we do church?
For example, we spend so much money on church buildings when every church building is going to be burned up in the end. Does that make sense? You know Matthew 21. During the triumphal entry. This is the beginning of Jesus’ final week, and He cleanses the temple. This house of prayer became this money making enterprise. Let’s bring the animals to the temples. These guys are on a pilgrimage, they’re going to pay whatever price that they are charged. And then they can offer their sacrifice to God and go home.
The church today is an exact replica of this situation. How we build impressive buildings. And we’ve made church into this consumeristic enterprise. And you give people what they want. Just a little bit of religion. A program from my kids, social activities that are safe. And if they keep coming, you just take their money. Just keep coming. You take their money. As long as they give more than you spend on them, you’re going to get richer and richer and richer. And Jesus is so upset at this religious mindset, this system that’s built to rob the people. God’s people. And Jesus says, when you gather, it should be a time of prayer. Not robbery.
Robbing people of money to build bigger buildings. In the end, when Jesus returns, everything is going to be demolished and burned. Yet, we do church in a way that reveals we don’t believe that the master is coming. He’s not coming anytime soon. That’s why churches can plan a 5 year building project. It’s a mindset of let’s gather money for five years. Millions of dollars in order to buy this lot building across the street. Believing that Jesus can come in any minute is completely antithetical to this way of doing church.
Why do we love and worship and devote ourselves to the god of Money? Because we think it’s ours to enjoy, we think it’s ours instead of seeing it as an issue of stewardship. We clutch onto it and say, This is mine. I need to exercise my freedom and do what I want with this. Instead of saying, This is a gift from God, He’s leased it to me. Like in the the Parable of the Tenants, it’s my duty to take care of this vineyard. I’m just leasing it and I’m supposed to provide fruit to the owner. I’m living on this land on loan, I’m renting it, and my payment is to provide fruit. What do these tenants do? They just clutch on to it. They think, this is my money. And God comes to collect. He sends His servants. What did they do to the servants? They beat, stoned and killed the servants. God sent more servants. The same thing happened.
Then, God, the Owner, says, I’m going to send my Son. What did they do? They kill the Son. They think I’m going to get the inheritance that was due to the Son. Does that even make sense? These guys who are renting the land and the owner expects payment in the form of fruit, and they think killing the Son is going to mean I get the Son’s inheritance. See, all of these parables surrounding Matthew 24 is Jesus exposing the mindset of somebody who does not believe that the master is coming. The Master is going to expect payment when you see Him. You’ve been loaned money. You’ve been loaned your children. You’ve been loaned your life. You’re on lease and there’s a payment that He expects, and what is that? Payment in the form of fruit. Proper stewardship.
Like in Matthew 24, the wise and faithful servant in verse 45 is the one who just takes care of his household. Just putting out food at the proper time. He’s not beating members of the household. He’s not ignoring his duties and getting drunk. He’s not just enjoying his life. Like if you knew the exact day and hour that Jesus was coming, then you could live this way. You could beat people, you could live like a drunkard, you could shirk all your responsibilities and not take care of the household and leave it in a mess. And with a week left before the Master’s return, you would say, I better get my act together. I’m going to put the house in order. I’m going to be faithful to my duties.
Jesus is exposing the mindset of somebody who does not believe that He could come back at any moment. And when He comes, He expects payment. And He wants to see how you’ve stewarded your life. If you’re a five talent person, He expects five more. If you’re a two talent person, He expects two more. If you’re a one talent person, He expects one more. Just within your ability. Just what you’ve been entrusted with. Are you faithful to it?
Like I am married to Jackie. There is no marriage in heaven. I have three kids. I don’t think our relationship in heaven is going to be father to son. We’re going to be so radically transformed, and we can’t even comprehend what Jesus is saying when He speaks of the resurrection and the new life in the new heaven and new earth. It’s going to be so radically different, like we think, how can you not be married if you were married on earth? We were married all these decades, and in heaven, there’s no marriage? We don’t understand and I am a father to these boys but in heaven, somehow, our relationship with one another is changed.
That tells me that all the relationships that I’ve been given in this life is for me to steward. That i am just stewarding and helping Jackie. She is a little one. And my treatment of her hopefully is edifying her and I am guiding her so that she could make it to the end. Even the children, though I am the father, it’s not my responsibility, ultimately, to be a provider. No, I am stewarding these precious little lives and praying that I can guide them on the path of salvation. And I release them into God’s hands, and God will care for them. And Jesus will shepherd them. See, it’s about stewardship, how you steward the resources you’ve been given, the money, the relationships you’ve been given.
The problem is, we think the Master is delayed. Thus, we become irresponsible or become abusive. Or becomes possessive, like this is mine. No, everything is the Lord’s. He gave us our brains, our education, the opportunities, the family, the relationships, everything has been given to us on loan. Everything is on loan. We’re being leased, we’re on this vineyard. We’re supposed to care for my life and the people around us. And the Master expects payment in the form of fruit.
Are we wise and faithful? Did we steward them well, not clutching onto them, not possessing them, not saying, it’s my job, my responsibility. This is my money. No, everything is on loan. Somebody that knows that Jesus is coming at any moment, He is not delayed, someone who has this mindset can hold onto things very lightly. My career, yeah, I can let it go. My family, yeah, it’s the Lord’s family, it’s His little ones. I’ve been just stewarding them, they’ve been loaned to me, entrusted to me. This church, they’re His people in the church. This is not my church. I am not the head pastor, the lead pastor which I foolishly thought and I gave myself the title of Lead Pastor. I was so foolish. No, there’s only one Senior Pastor, there’s only one Head, there’s only one Lead Pastor and His name is Jesus.
Everyone here is entrusted to me. On loan to me, and at the end, the Master is going to say, how did you treat the little ones ? Did you possess them? Did you extract money from them? Did you abuse them? Work them hard to do ministry so that you can grow your kingdom on earth? God will look at how well you stewarded your life.
If you’re a faithful and wise servant, you understand, I better treat others in the household of God well because the Master has entrusted His possessions to me, His precious little ones to me. This means, I better not be harsh. I better be kind. I better edify. He’s entrusted my children, these little ones to me, for a period. I better not exasperate them, I better not make them bitter at God because of how I raised them wrongly in the Lord.
I am accountable before God for each of you. Did I lead you well? Did I teach you well? And if I lead one of these little ones astray, God says as a leader, I should just be drowned in the sea. That’s how seriously He takes how leaders treat and steward the little ones entrusted under our care. When we don’t possess our kids, we quickly become so unburdened. Our burden suddenly feels so easy, so light. Because regarding parenting, we don’t put so much pressure on ourselves that I have to keep them safe. I have to make sure they never get sick. I have to make sure they are well provided for. These are heavy burdens for a parent. We try our best, but ultimately, we say, Lord, I’ll do my best but in the end, I trust you.
This little one, baby Micah, is created by the Father above who knit him together in Elaine’s womb. So we trust the Father to take care of Micah, to provide for and care for his soul. All the heavy burdens of parenting are lifted. I am not the provider, the breadwinner of the family. No, we give all of those burdens to Jesus. We give all the the parenting duties ultimately to our Heavenly Father. Suddenly, parenting becomes so easy. We’re just stewarding them. They’ve been loaned to us.
A wise and faithful servant who takes care of his household well, just feeding them, not abusing them, just caring for them, not lording over them. Just making sure they have the basic needs met and you treat them well. You’re not beating them. You’re not abusing them. You’re not harsh with them. If you live this way, you’ve been faithful here with His household. As a result, when you get to your new, heavily household, you will be entrusted with more. And so we want to be wise and faithful.
How do we live wisely and faithfully? You have to believe Jesus can come at any moment. Then, suddenly, you become wise. You suddenly know how to live. You are unburdened. All the stress is gone. All you’re doing is waiting for Jesus.
Like Matthew 21, the little ones are crying out, Hosanna! I was so blessed just thinking about that word “hosanna” coming from the lips of these little ones. Because hosanna means, Save me! They see the Savior and the little ones just spiritually, they see something that the adults in the room don’t see. They say, Save me! And that’s why for us who are saved, hosanna has become a praise. Praise the Lord that He’s saved me! But I think we need to hold onto that child-like cry, Save me. Which means, Jesus, I want to be with you. Save me from this hell hole.
These children are communicating a profound message that they see something we don’t see. Things get complicated as we grow up as Christians. And that child-like desire to be with the Lord is lost. Because we get so complicated. We get so stuck in my life and the wrong teachings of being a provider. And I have to do this important work. And I have to fulfill this project. And this is my life calling and the whole time Jesus is asking, don’t you want Me to come?
Why are you so busy planning at your life? Don’t you want Me to come? Don’t you know I can come at this very moment. Are you ready? Or are you so busy with your life? As Christians, in some sense, we are in conflict within ourselves. Because on one hand, we say, Save me, Lord, Maranatha, Lord, come, Lord, I’m waiting for you. That is the core, the heart of the Christian life. At the same time, we have loved ones who are not saved, and for their sake, we say, Lord, give us a little more time. Can you just hold off a little longer until my children come to a saving knowledge of faith in You so that I can see the fruit with my own eyes? Can you just hold off a little bit longer? I so long to be with you. I want to be where you are. Please come now, but for the sake off the little ones, for some fruitful labor that I still need to do and to be faithful to, can you just hold off a while longer?
One huge omission in the teaching of the Church in America is this teaching. That Jesus can come at any moment, that He is at the door and that our hearts should be so glad. Like if He’s at the door, do you see Him and ask, Jesus, why are you here? I’m not ready. Can You come back next week? Would you be slamming the door in His face? Would you say, I really want this thing first. Can you just wait till I enjoy this first?
We’ve omitted this teaching. Jesus is at the door, and the signs are clear that He is closer and closer and closer. Wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, lawlessness. The writing is on the wall. He is getting closer and closer, and is our heart glad at the thought of his return? Does our heart get excited? Finally, I get to see the Lord. That is why I just prayed, Hosanna, this morning. Save me! I want to be with you, Lord! There’s nothing here in this life that I’m waiting for. I’ve seen it all. I’ve done it all. There’s nothing else, let it all burn up. I’m okay, Lord. I want to be with you. Hosanna! Save me, Lord! Before my heart grows cold, before lawlessness causes my heart to grow cold, save me! If possible, before this final tribulation, I’m not sure if I can endure the hatred of all the nations. If that’s coming and I cannot stand, Save me, Lord! Before that happens, Hosanna! Save me! That is the heart of a Christian.
Jesus, if you come, I want to be ready. I’ve been hearing many people say we’re in the two minute warning of history, and when I look around, I see the signs. The fig tree is there, and the leaves are in full bloom. Summer is coming. We can see the signs in nature, and so God is given us advance warning through these signs. Jesus is telling us, look for these specific signs, and when I look out in the year 2018, I see the signs. Two minute warning–yeah, I can believe we’re that close.
Let’s prepare ourselves. Everything that we’re working so hard for, let’s hold with a light grip. At any moment, we can let it go. It’s not a big deal. We can let it go. We’re not defined by these things. These projects, these relationships. I can let it go. I can trust the Lord. Because it’s a cry of a little one, Hosanna, save me! I want to be with You!
Do we believe that Jesus is near? Are we living in such a way that we know that You can come in any moment? Forgive us, Lord. We act like You’re delayed. Because deep down, we don’t believe that You might come this moment. We don’t live that way. We don’t actually believe. Instead, we believe the opposite. We believe You are delayed. We believe it’s been two thousand years so it could be another two thousand years. And because we believe wrongly, we live wrongly. We live for ourselves, eating and drinking, getting married, just like Noah’s day. And they were doing that right up until the day when the flood waters came.
They saw Noah building the ark for about a hundred years. The sign was there. The flood came without additional warning. They were caught off guard.
Father, may that not be the case for us here. We see Noah’s ark, we hear the hammers hammering the walls of the ark. We see the signs. Help us to re-prioritize our lives. We’re just stewards. You’ve just loaned us. The resources of time and our very lives have been given to us and you’re seeing, Are we going to live like a wise and faithful servant? We can only live that way if we believe and we actually want You to come.
The fact that You are near, we’re so eager that You’re near. We’re so happy. Hosanna is the cry of the child who sees a Savior and says, Save me, Lord! I want to be with you, Lord! Empty our hands of the things that we clutch onto. Empty it all out, Lord. So that with empty hands, we could hold onto you, Lord Jesus. As we take the Lord’s Supper, symbolising his death, burial and resurrection, we do this, proclaiming that He is coming. We do all of this, we observe the Lord’s Supper with an understanding that He is coming.
And when He comes, it will not be in secret. There’s no secret rapture. He will come and it will be so clear to the world. He’s gonna come. Over the eastern sky, passing to the west, everyone will see it. No one can miss the coming of the Son of Man and if we’re alive to see it, Lord, you give us advance warning that it will be the most difficult period of human history.
Because we don’t believe You’re coming, we’re not preparing ourselves in the right way. We still want to be popular. We still want to be wealthy. We still won’t be comfortable. We don’t understand what is coming for this final generation. It could be our generation, or the next generation. But, Lord, you’re giving us so many signs that we’re in the two minute warning of history. We want to be ready, Lord. I want to be ready. Prepare us, Lord. If we don’t long for your return, there’s something wrong with us. Forgive us, help us, Lord, to see correctly. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen