Jesus – His Return

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03 Dec 2023

Jesus – His Return

Passage Matthew 24:36–51

Speaker Hugh Bourne

Service Evening

Series Advent 2023

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Passage: Matthew 24:36–51

36 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 ‘Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, “My master is staying away a long time,” 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Our reading this evening is Mark, Matthew 24, verses 36 to 51. If you're following on the red Nov. Bibles, it's on page 700. Heading is the day and hour unknown. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor or the son, but only the father.

As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the son of man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Up to the day Noah entered the ark. They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the son of man.

Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with the handmill. One will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your lord will come. But understand this.

If the owner of the house had known at what time the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because a son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, my master is staying away a long time, and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of, he will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks so much. Well, good evening. Please do keep your Bibles open in Matthew chapter 24, and we're going to be looking at that together this evening. Now, this week has been a big birthday week in our household. I have just come from a seven year old's birthday party with 18, six and seven year olds.

So forgive me if I collapse at any point. It was lots of fun. But before that it was our eleven year old's birthday on Tuesday, and in our household the birthday before that is in July. Okay, so July to November there are no family birthdays, which means that is when the countdown for the birthday begins. Whose birthday is next?

It's Harry's birthday next. Ever since the end of July, and we do in our household we have birthday Eve and we have birthday Boxing Day as well, just to kind of extend things. And yeah, Harry has been counting down since July and since the beginning of November, he's got a countdown chart where he can tick off the days. And then finally the day came on Tuesday. Literally no one is more excited about their birthday than Harry.

He has been counting down for months. Now. Today is Advent Sunday, and for the church it's actually Advent is the start of a new year. And you might think of advent wreaths and candles and calendars. And this season, this season of Advent has itself become a bit of a countdown.

And we think, partly because it's opening doors and eating chocolates, that advent is just a countdown until Christmas. But Advent doesn't really mean countdown. It actually means coming or appearing instinctively. Being so close to Christmas, we think, well, it must all be about Jesus' first coming when he came born in a stable at Christmas time. But Advent is actually a season thinking about Jesus' second coming, a time when Jesus will appear again, not as a little baby, but when he will return as lord and king.

Now, over the recent weeks in our Christianity explored series, we've been thinking about the life of Jesus, his life, his death and his resurrection. But the story doesn't end there. If you've been coming along through Christianity explored, and you still got one of those little red Mark's gospels, you'll see a very similar passage in Mark, chapter 13. But we're looking in the kind of parallel passage in Matthew 24 where Jesus speaks about a day in the future when he will return and draw history to a close. And we're going to think tonight about that day.

And if you remember nothing else, and I'm perfectly happy to meet you might remember nothing else. But just remember these two things. Okay, two things about Jesus' return. Firstly, no one knows when it will happen, but secondly, be ready for when it does. No one knows when it will happen, so be ready for when it does.

You see, throughout the centuries, people have made lots of money and gathered lots of followers by predicting the end of the world. And up to now, you'll be pleased to know they've all been wrong. Of course, the theories still keep coming. Whether it's going to be a supervolcano that gets us an asteroid, the climate crisis, the swelling of the sun, an AI robot apocalypse or something. There is always something that's going to end the world soon.

Now, Jesus here is himself predicting the end of the world, but in much more personal terms than a planet imploding. The world comes to an end in verse 39 with the coming of the son of man, or simply the return of Jesus. When Jesus says son of man, that's a name he's talking about himself. The world ends when Jesus returns, and Jesus is very clear about when that day will come. Verse 36.

But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. They go couldn't be any clearer. No one knows. No one knows when this day will come. But what we are told is that Jesus will return when life is as normal.

He says, remember when the flood came? Remember in Noah's days? People were getting on with life, weren't they? Noah was getting ready, he was building an ark. But everyone else, they were eating and drinking and celebrating.

They were getting married, they were just doing normal life.

The picture goes on in verse 40. There's people working in the field, there's women grinding at the mill, people at work literally making their daily bread, just getting on with daily life. And Jesus says that's how it will be when he returns, that life will actually appear as normal. Everyone will be getting on with their lives.

Well, except perhaps a few, like Noah, who will be getting ready for that day. Jesus will return when life is carrying on as normal. When Jesus speaks of the days of Noah, it sounds quite quaint, doesn't? Ah, the days of Noah. Remember those days when people were getting on with life and enjoying eating, drinking, getting married.

Yeah, but what happened then?

What happened then was a global judgement event. A flood that killed everyone outside of the ark. All those outside the ark were taken away, killed by the flood. Jesus here then likens his return to an event of that scale.

Some will be taken, some will be left. A global judgement, a global life changing event, if you like. A judgement day. But no one knows when it will happen. So how can I count down to a day that I don't know when it's going to happen?

How can I do that if I don't know when it's going to happen? How can I do that countdown? How can I be ready?

Apparently there's going to be a general election relatively soon. You might not have known anything about it. In fact, no one knows when it's going to happen. No one is exactly sure when. But do you think Kia Starmer is sitting there thinking, well, I don't know when it's going to.

Hmm. Shall we do anything to get ready? I'm not sure. Maybe we should wait until Rishi tells us when it's going to happen. Or will he start preparing now?

If he knows it's going to happen, he's going to start preparing now, isn't he? Look down with me at verse 42.

Verse 42 says, therefore, because this judgement event will happen. Therefore stay awake, for you do not know on what day your lord is coming.

You see, when the day is unknown, that doesn't mean we spend hours speculating about when it might be, nor does it mean we just carry on as normal. No. Jesus says, therefore, keep watch. Because you don't know. Stay awake, be alert.

It's going to happen, so keep watch.

If I know something will happen, and I know it's serious, but I don't know on which day it will happen, then I need to be ready every day.

If it's serious, it's going to happen, and I don't know when I need to be ready every day. You see, that's the second thing that Jesus wants us to remember. He wants us to be ready for when he does return. Now imagine if you like a couple, and they've been dating for just over a year and things are starting to get serious. There's talk of the future, and before long, the man gets down on one knee and asks the question, will you marry me?

And she says, yes. The next day the man says, well, we need to plan a wedding, don't we? Now, do you suppose to this planning conversation, man and woman both come with a blank sheet of paper?

I suspect the man comes with a blank sheet of paper thinking, well, let's make a plan. Come on, this is serious. Let's make a plan.

Do you suspect the woman might already have some ideas on her paper? I don't want to stereotype, of course, but I would suspect that the woman has been potentially anticipating this day. She's been preparing for it.

Jesus wants us to be like the bride. In fact, we're likened to a bride in the Bible. He wants us to be ready for that day, to be prepared. And Jesus goes on in this passage to tell some short parables about being ready and getting prepared. So in verse 43, verse 43 says, 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.

He says, if you know a thief is coming, stay up and call the police. Think what an awful film you might think it was an awful film anyway. But think what an awful film home alone would be if Kevin just went to bed. Imagine that. Kevin goes to bed and the burglars sneak in, steal everything and that's it.

That's the film. But no, he stays awake. He has a plan. He's prepared. He calls the police.

Jesus says, be like Kevin, stay awake. If you know the thief is coming, be ready. If you know the Lord Jesus is coming back, be ready. Or verse 45, he tells another little story. Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has set over the household to give them their food at the proper time?

Blessed is the servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

He says, if the boss, if the master of the house has given you a job to do, make sure it's done when he gets back. If you know senior management are coming in to inspect this week, make sure they find you busy, make sure they find everything in its proper place. If you've got ofsted coming, sort it out. Be ready.

If you know the boss is coming to inspect, make sure you do a good job. You see, Jesus, I think here is begging the question of all of us, will you be ready when Jesus returns as king? No one knows when he's coming back, so be ready for when he does.

We don't know, but he surely will return, and he wants us to be ready for that day.

Now, part of the reason for such a long countdown for Harry's birthday was because we planned him a special treat. I wasn't here last weekend. I was at a place called Drayton Manor park. It's better known as Thomas Land. And I have to say it was possibly one of the worst days of my life.

Now I have been before. It's a great place, especially if you like Thomas. It's a great place. But we went on the opening day of the Christmas special experience and let me tell you, it was very special. Long story short is I don't know whether perhaps they hadn't booked enough Father Christmases or enough elves or apparently there weren't even any presents.

But long story short is we spent 2 hours queuing to see Father Christmas and we still didn't see him. Everyone cried, ran away, and we had a horrible day. And it wasn't even saved by the elf coming round with some cold mince pies. And there was me asking an elf to see senior management and then a lady appeared dressed up as Mrs. Christmas.

But that didn't help my situation. And you can read some of the Tripadvisor reviews about the day. So one is entitled the Nightmare before Christmas.

Rumour has it Santa is still queuing to get in. And my Tripadvisor review is entitled the Grinch would have organised a better Christmas experience. But here's the thing. Here's the thing. A terrible day.

I won't even tell you about the journey. Oh, that was awful as well. We ended up in a pizza express in Slough because the m 25 was shut on the way. Well, that was another story. Here's the thing.

At the end of the day, Harry went to bed and we said goodnight and we said a prayer together. I said, did you enjoy today? He said it was the best day ever. Best birthday ever. And do you know what it's like, all the bad stuff that happened, he kind of just shut it out and he just focused on the good.

It's like love, Thomas. Thomas had a red nose and love Christmas. Thomas didn't even mention Santa's grotto. And we were there, like, typing our trip advisory.

He's like, it's great. It's the best birthday. You see, it's possible that two people can experience the same day. I thought it was terrible. Harry, thoughts?

It was amazing. It's possible for two people to be in the same place, to experience the same things and feel very differently about the outcome. You see, that's how this passage ends. When the master returns, the faithful servant is rewarded. Then verse 47, truly, I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

You see, when the master returns, when Jesus returns, this faithful servant finds it to be an incredible day, such a joyful day. His master returns and he rewards him. He says, you've done a great job. I'll put you in charge of my possessions. But the story doesn't end there, you see, of the wicked servant, the servant who didn't do his job, who got drunk, who said, ah, the master's not coming back anytime soon.

We'll live it up while he's away. To that servant, verse 51, it says, he will cut him into pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there'll be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The same day when the master returns, two opposite outcomes. And Jesus here is using typical pictures used elsewhere to describe heaven and hell. A picture of blessing and a picture of judgement.

You see, when he returns, that's the division that will take place. That's the decision which he brings.

So who's the faithful servant? What does it mean to keep watch or stay awake? How can I be ready for this day?

Let me suggest two answers to that question. How can I be ready for that day? Firstly, get in the boat. Get in the boat. If Jesus' return is akin to a judgement of a flood like in Noah's days, then as the guy in jaw says, we're going to need a bigger boat.

We're going to need a boat that is big enough, that is safe enough, that is strong enough to carry me through that day. A boat where I won't be taken, where I won't be swept away, but I can be held safely. A boat strong enough for me to shelter from God's judgement, his right judgement against all that I've done wrong.

A boat that can lead me through those waters to life.

You might remember the third Batman film of the recent series Dark Knight rises. The trailer for that movie, it's quite chilling. It's kind of eerie. It's silent. Begins with the words of Catwoman and she says, a storm is coming.

A storm is coming. Now, in that film, it's bane on a plane. A storm is coming. And that's what Jesus is saying here. A storm is coming and I need a boat that's going to hold me safe through that storm.

You see in the film, in the Batman film, there's a great rescue story at the end. The Michael Caine character, I can't remember, the butler guy, whatever his name is. He says to Batman, he says, you've given everything to Gotham.

He says, I haven't given everything yet. The story ends with him giving his life to save the people. And that is the story of Jesus' rescue. Jesus gives everything he gives himself on a cross to die in our place. You see, Jesus is the ark.

Jesus is the place where we can find shelter in the storm. He's the place where we can hide ourselves through God's judgement. We can be safe before anything else, before I think about doing anything else to get ready for this day, I need to come to Jesus. I need to find his forgiveness, his life, because he's the only one who can carry me through this storm of judgement.

Friends, get in the boat with Jesus.

Second thing, let Jesus be the captain of that boat. Let Jesus be the captain. Sometimes this phrase, keep watch is related to prayerfulness or soberness. That idea of staying awake, of living a godly life, about keeping our focus on Jesus. And that's a good way to be ready.

But perhaps if I could make it more simple. I think it's this. If you know that Jesus is returning as the king, then start living like he's the king now.

Start living like he's the king now. Do you remember about two weeks before coronation day, people started camping out. They wanted that best spot on the Mao so they could see the new king. Everyone thought they were mad. What are you doing?

It's two weeks away and yet there they are in their tents. Why? Because we want to see the king. We want to be ready. We want the prime spots to see the king.

Jesus saying the same thing, get ready. I'm coming back as king. Start living with me as king now. And it affects every area of life, doesn't it? It's what happens when a king or queen or anyone from the royal family visits somewhere, isn't it?

Everything gets tidied, everything gets painted, everything gets smartened up. Why? Because we want the place to look great for the king.

Jesus wants us, all of us. He wants our whole lives. Start living with Jesus as king now. Affects everything, doesn't it?

Putting every area of our lives under his reign. It's going to affect my time, it's going to affect my money, it's going to affect my relationships, how I do my work, affects my body, my emotions, how I use social media, how I might use my position in public life. All these things. If Jesus is coming back as king, start putting all these things now under his reign.

My third son, George, he is a king in the school nativity. He is so excited about this. He's got a green king's outfit and he's most excited about the beard, actually. He's got a little black beard and he just can't wait to be the king. But I saw a lovely video online recently.

You might have seen it. It's a little boy sitting in the back of a car and his mum's talking to him and he's come out from school. He says, mum got the best part in nativity. It's a classic role, classic role. And she says, was it Joseph?

Is it King angel? He says, I'm doorkeeper number three.

He says, get in, let's go.

You know who you're being doorkeeper for? You're being doorkeeper for the king of kings. That little baby in the manger nativity. He's the king. He's the one who's coming back and you get to hold the door open for him.

So don't be like my son. Don't be the one who loves to be the king. Be the one who loves to serve the king who's coming back. Two things to remember about Jesus' return. No one knows when it's going to happen.

But friends, please be ready for when it does.

36 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 ‘Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, “My master is staying away a long time,” 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

This transcript has been automatically generated and therefore may not be 100% accurate

Our reading this evening is Mark, Matthew 24, verses 36 to 51. If you’re following on the red Nov. Bibles, it’s on page 700. Heading is the day and hour unknown. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor or the son, but only the father.

As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the son of man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Up to the day Noah entered the ark. They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the son of man.

Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with the handmill. One will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your lord will come. But understand this.

If the owner of the house had known at what time the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because a son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, my master is staying away a long time, and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of, he will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks so much. Well, good evening. Please do keep your Bibles open in Matthew chapter 24, and we’re going to be looking at that together this evening. Now, this week has been a big birthday week in our household. I have just come from a seven year old’s birthday party with 18, six and seven year olds.

So forgive me if I collapse at any point. It was lots of fun. But before that it was our eleven year old’s birthday on Tuesday, and in our household the birthday before that is in July. Okay, so July to November there are no family birthdays, which means that is when the countdown for the birthday begins. Whose birthday is next?

It’s Harry’s birthday next. Ever since the end of July, and we do in our household we have birthday Eve and we have birthday Boxing Day as well, just to kind of extend things. And yeah, Harry has been counting down since July and since the beginning of November, he’s got a countdown chart where he can tick off the days. And then finally the day came on Tuesday. Literally no one is more excited about their birthday than Harry.

He has been counting down for months. Now. Today is Advent Sunday, and for the church it’s actually Advent is the start of a new year. And you might think of advent wreaths and candles and calendars. And this season, this season of Advent has itself become a bit of a countdown.

And we think, partly because it’s opening doors and eating chocolates, that advent is just a countdown until Christmas. But Advent doesn’t really mean countdown. It actually means coming or appearing instinctively. Being so close to Christmas, we think, well, it must all be about Jesus’ first coming when he came born in a stable at Christmas time. But Advent is actually a season thinking about Jesus’ second coming, a time when Jesus will appear again, not as a little baby, but when he will return as lord and king.

Now, over the recent weeks in our Christianity explored series, we’ve been thinking about the life of Jesus, his life, his death and his resurrection. But the story doesn’t end there. If you’ve been coming along through Christianity explored, and you still got one of those little red Mark’s gospels, you’ll see a very similar passage in Mark, chapter 13. But we’re looking in the kind of parallel passage in Matthew 24 where Jesus speaks about a day in the future when he will return and draw history to a close. And we’re going to think tonight about that day.

And if you remember nothing else, and I’m perfectly happy to meet you might remember nothing else. But just remember these two things. Okay, two things about Jesus’ return. Firstly, no one knows when it will happen, but secondly, be ready for when it does. No one knows when it will happen, so be ready for when it does.

You see, throughout the centuries, people have made lots of money and gathered lots of followers by predicting the end of the world. And up to now, you’ll be pleased to know they’ve all been wrong. Of course, the theories still keep coming. Whether it’s going to be a supervolcano that gets us an asteroid, the climate crisis, the swelling of the sun, an AI robot apocalypse or something. There is always something that’s going to end the world soon.

Now, Jesus here is himself predicting the end of the world, but in much more personal terms than a planet imploding. The world comes to an end in verse 39 with the coming of the son of man, or simply the return of Jesus. When Jesus says son of man, that’s a name he’s talking about himself. The world ends when Jesus returns, and Jesus is very clear about when that day will come. Verse 36.

But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. They go couldn’t be any clearer. No one knows. No one knows when this day will come. But what we are told is that Jesus will return when life is as normal.

He says, remember when the flood came? Remember in Noah’s days? People were getting on with life, weren’t they? Noah was getting ready, he was building an ark. But everyone else, they were eating and drinking and celebrating.

They were getting married, they were just doing normal life.

The picture goes on in verse 40. There’s people working in the field, there’s women grinding at the mill, people at work literally making their daily bread, just getting on with daily life. And Jesus says that’s how it will be when he returns, that life will actually appear as normal. Everyone will be getting on with their lives.

Well, except perhaps a few, like Noah, who will be getting ready for that day. Jesus will return when life is carrying on as normal. When Jesus speaks of the days of Noah, it sounds quite quaint, doesn’t? Ah, the days of Noah. Remember those days when people were getting on with life and enjoying eating, drinking, getting married.

Yeah, but what happened then?

What happened then was a global judgement event. A flood that killed everyone outside of the ark. All those outside the ark were taken away, killed by the flood. Jesus here then likens his return to an event of that scale.

Some will be taken, some will be left. A global judgement, a global life changing event, if you like. A judgement day. But no one knows when it will happen. So how can I count down to a day that I don’t know when it’s going to happen?

How can I do that if I don’t know when it’s going to happen? How can I do that countdown? How can I be ready?

Apparently there’s going to be a general election relatively soon. You might not have known anything about it. In fact, no one knows when it’s going to happen. No one is exactly sure when. But do you think Kia Starmer is sitting there thinking, well, I don’t know when it’s going to.

Hmm. Shall we do anything to get ready? I’m not sure. Maybe we should wait until Rishi tells us when it’s going to happen. Or will he start preparing now?

If he knows it’s going to happen, he’s going to start preparing now, isn’t he? Look down with me at verse 42.

Verse 42 says, therefore, because this judgement event will happen. Therefore stay awake, for you do not know on what day your lord is coming.

You see, when the day is unknown, that doesn’t mean we spend hours speculating about when it might be, nor does it mean we just carry on as normal. No. Jesus says, therefore, keep watch. Because you don’t know. Stay awake, be alert.

It’s going to happen, so keep watch.

If I know something will happen, and I know it’s serious, but I don’t know on which day it will happen, then I need to be ready every day.

If it’s serious, it’s going to happen, and I don’t know when I need to be ready every day. You see, that’s the second thing that Jesus wants us to remember. He wants us to be ready for when he does return. Now imagine if you like a couple, and they’ve been dating for just over a year and things are starting to get serious. There’s talk of the future, and before long, the man gets down on one knee and asks the question, will you marry me?

And she says, yes. The next day the man says, well, we need to plan a wedding, don’t we? Now, do you suppose to this planning conversation, man and woman both come with a blank sheet of paper?

I suspect the man comes with a blank sheet of paper thinking, well, let’s make a plan. Come on, this is serious. Let’s make a plan.

Do you suspect the woman might already have some ideas on her paper? I don’t want to stereotype, of course, but I would suspect that the woman has been potentially anticipating this day. She’s been preparing for it.

Jesus wants us to be like the bride. In fact, we’re likened to a bride in the Bible. He wants us to be ready for that day, to be prepared. And Jesus goes on in this passage to tell some short parables about being ready and getting prepared. So in verse 43, verse 43 says, 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.

He says, if you know a thief is coming, stay up and call the police. Think what an awful film you might think it was an awful film anyway. But think what an awful film home alone would be if Kevin just went to bed. Imagine that. Kevin goes to bed and the burglars sneak in, steal everything and that’s it.

That’s the film. But no, he stays awake. He has a plan. He’s prepared. He calls the police.

Jesus says, be like Kevin, stay awake. If you know the thief is coming, be ready. If you know the Lord Jesus is coming back, be ready. Or verse 45, he tells another little story. Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has set over the household to give them their food at the proper time?

Blessed is the servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

He says, if the boss, if the master of the house has given you a job to do, make sure it’s done when he gets back. If you know senior management are coming in to inspect this week, make sure they find you busy, make sure they find everything in its proper place. If you’ve got ofsted coming, sort it out. Be ready.

If you know the boss is coming to inspect, make sure you do a good job. You see, Jesus, I think here is begging the question of all of us, will you be ready when Jesus returns as king? No one knows when he’s coming back, so be ready for when he does.

We don’t know, but he surely will return, and he wants us to be ready for that day.

Now, part of the reason for such a long countdown for Harry’s birthday was because we planned him a special treat. I wasn’t here last weekend. I was at a place called Drayton Manor park. It’s better known as Thomas Land. And I have to say it was possibly one of the worst days of my life.

Now I have been before. It’s a great place, especially if you like Thomas. It’s a great place. But we went on the opening day of the Christmas special experience and let me tell you, it was very special. Long story short is I don’t know whether perhaps they hadn’t booked enough Father Christmases or enough elves or apparently there weren’t even any presents.

But long story short is we spent 2 hours queuing to see Father Christmas and we still didn’t see him. Everyone cried, ran away, and we had a horrible day. And it wasn’t even saved by the elf coming round with some cold mince pies. And there was me asking an elf to see senior management and then a lady appeared dressed up as Mrs. Christmas.

But that didn’t help my situation. And you can read some of the Tripadvisor reviews about the day. So one is entitled the Nightmare before Christmas.

Rumour has it Santa is still queuing to get in. And my Tripadvisor review is entitled the Grinch would have organised a better Christmas experience. But here’s the thing. Here’s the thing. A terrible day.

I won’t even tell you about the journey. Oh, that was awful as well. We ended up in a pizza express in Slough because the m 25 was shut on the way. Well, that was another story. Here’s the thing.

At the end of the day, Harry went to bed and we said goodnight and we said a prayer together. I said, did you enjoy today? He said it was the best day ever. Best birthday ever. And do you know what it’s like, all the bad stuff that happened, he kind of just shut it out and he just focused on the good.

It’s like love, Thomas. Thomas had a red nose and love Christmas. Thomas didn’t even mention Santa’s grotto. And we were there, like, typing our trip advisory.

He’s like, it’s great. It’s the best birthday. You see, it’s possible that two people can experience the same day. I thought it was terrible. Harry, thoughts?

It was amazing. It’s possible for two people to be in the same place, to experience the same things and feel very differently about the outcome. You see, that’s how this passage ends. When the master returns, the faithful servant is rewarded. Then verse 47, truly, I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

You see, when the master returns, when Jesus returns, this faithful servant finds it to be an incredible day, such a joyful day. His master returns and he rewards him. He says, you’ve done a great job. I’ll put you in charge of my possessions. But the story doesn’t end there, you see, of the wicked servant, the servant who didn’t do his job, who got drunk, who said, ah, the master’s not coming back anytime soon.

We’ll live it up while he’s away. To that servant, verse 51, it says, he will cut him into pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there’ll be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The same day when the master returns, two opposite outcomes. And Jesus here is using typical pictures used elsewhere to describe heaven and hell. A picture of blessing and a picture of judgement.

You see, when he returns, that’s the division that will take place. That’s the decision which he brings.

So who’s the faithful servant? What does it mean to keep watch or stay awake? How can I be ready for this day?

Let me suggest two answers to that question. How can I be ready for that day? Firstly, get in the boat. Get in the boat. If Jesus’ return is akin to a judgement of a flood like in Noah’s days, then as the guy in jaw says, we’re going to need a bigger boat.

We’re going to need a boat that is big enough, that is safe enough, that is strong enough to carry me through that day. A boat where I won’t be taken, where I won’t be swept away, but I can be held safely. A boat strong enough for me to shelter from God’s judgement, his right judgement against all that I’ve done wrong.

A boat that can lead me through those waters to life.

You might remember the third Batman film of the recent series Dark Knight rises. The trailer for that movie, it’s quite chilling. It’s kind of eerie. It’s silent. Begins with the words of Catwoman and she says, a storm is coming.

A storm is coming. Now, in that film, it’s bane on a plane. A storm is coming. And that’s what Jesus is saying here. A storm is coming and I need a boat that’s going to hold me safe through that storm.

You see in the film, in the Batman film, there’s a great rescue story at the end. The Michael Caine character, I can’t remember, the butler guy, whatever his name is. He says to Batman, he says, you’ve given everything to Gotham.

He says, I haven’t given everything yet. The story ends with him giving his life to save the people. And that is the story of Jesus’ rescue. Jesus gives everything he gives himself on a cross to die in our place. You see, Jesus is the ark.

Jesus is the place where we can find shelter in the storm. He’s the place where we can hide ourselves through God’s judgement. We can be safe before anything else, before I think about doing anything else to get ready for this day, I need to come to Jesus. I need to find his forgiveness, his life, because he’s the only one who can carry me through this storm of judgement.

Friends, get in the boat with Jesus.

Second thing, let Jesus be the captain of that boat. Let Jesus be the captain. Sometimes this phrase, keep watch is related to prayerfulness or soberness. That idea of staying awake, of living a godly life, about keeping our focus on Jesus. And that’s a good way to be ready.

But perhaps if I could make it more simple. I think it’s this. If you know that Jesus is returning as the king, then start living like he’s the king now.

Start living like he’s the king now. Do you remember about two weeks before coronation day, people started camping out. They wanted that best spot on the Mao so they could see the new king. Everyone thought they were mad. What are you doing?

It’s two weeks away and yet there they are in their tents. Why? Because we want to see the king. We want to be ready. We want the prime spots to see the king.

Jesus saying the same thing, get ready. I’m coming back as king. Start living with me as king now. And it affects every area of life, doesn’t it? It’s what happens when a king or queen or anyone from the royal family visits somewhere, isn’t it?

Everything gets tidied, everything gets painted, everything gets smartened up. Why? Because we want the place to look great for the king.

Jesus wants us, all of us. He wants our whole lives. Start living with Jesus as king now. Affects everything, doesn’t it?

Putting every area of our lives under his reign. It’s going to affect my time, it’s going to affect my money, it’s going to affect my relationships, how I do my work, affects my body, my emotions, how I use social media, how I might use my position in public life. All these things. If Jesus is coming back as king, start putting all these things now under his reign.

My third son, George, he is a king in the school nativity. He is so excited about this. He’s got a green king’s outfit and he’s most excited about the beard, actually. He’s got a little black beard and he just can’t wait to be the king. But I saw a lovely video online recently.

You might have seen it. It’s a little boy sitting in the back of a car and his mum’s talking to him and he’s come out from school. He says, mum got the best part in nativity. It’s a classic role, classic role. And she says, was it Joseph?

Is it King angel? He says, I’m doorkeeper number three.

He says, get in, let’s go.

You know who you’re being doorkeeper for? You’re being doorkeeper for the king of kings. That little baby in the manger nativity. He’s the king. He’s the one who’s coming back and you get to hold the door open for him.

So don’t be like my son. Don’t be the one who loves to be the king. Be the one who loves to serve the king who’s coming back. Two things to remember about Jesus’ return. No one knows when it’s going to happen.

But friends, please be ready for when it does.

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