Good morning and welcome to Tuesday foundations podcast. Wherever and whenever you find yourself tuning in today, we pray as a team that God speaks to you and encourages you through these reflections.
Here’s a question for us all to consider today….How do we wait well?
Waiting is something we’ve experienced an awful lot this year! Right now we’re in the middle of Lockdown 2.0 and it feels like we are waiting again. Waiting for restrictions to be lifted. Waiting to hear about what plans we can make for Christmas – whether we will be able to be with our families. Waiting to hear about when a vaccine will be available, who might receive it first or how long it will take to roll out. Maybe you are self isolating right now and you are waiting, literally counting down the days until that period comes to an end. These are just some of the challenges of this particular season. We all find that there are things or period in our lives which require us to wait.
If we’re really honest, and I’m speaking for me personally here as well, waiting is not something we’re generally very good at. It’s not something that we enjoy doing. It’s something we’d rather skip over or fast forward through if we could.
Jesus, in today’s passage, is teaching his disciples about how we should approach a period of waiting. If we look at back at yesterday’s passage, Jesus is speaking here about his return, his second coming. And we think this is confusing and it’s hard to grasp. Imagine being a disciple and still having Jesus with you whilst he’s saying all this. Incredibly, it would seem that there were things about His return that even Jesus didn’t know…like the when. That knowledge alone he tells them, in verse 36, is reserved for the Father.
But what Jesus did know – is that his friends were going to really find it hard when he left them and so he began to teach them about how they were to approach that next period when he was absent and they were waiting. Over the next two days we see Jesus speak out a series of parables to unpack this further– two of which we have in today’s passage. For us today in Sheffield, in the year that is 2020….we’re asking the question what can we learn from these verses about how we as Jesus disciples might approach our own period of waiting?
Jesus says this in verse 42: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
The first thing we see is that as his followers times of waiting are also times of watching. Jesus speaks about this in the terms of owning a home. That the owner doesn’t know if and when their house might be broken in to but if they did, they’d keep watch during the night so that they were ready and alert to the danger of any intruder. This image of being vigilant and on guard against an enemy threat we see used a number of times in the Old Testament too – think the watchmen on the city walls. Waiting involves watching
Then in the second parable, Jesus speaks about two different servants given the task of managing the household in the absence of the boss. One servant works hard, stewards the responsibility and resources he has been given well. Jesus says of this good servant – reading from verse 46: It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. The other servant in the absence of the master’s direction becomes abusive to his fellow co-workers and lazy about his work – spending his time eating and drinking to excess only to find that when his master returns he is called to account for his actions. The final verse of this passage paints a frightening picture of the impending judgement upon that wicked servant. Faithful waiting also involves working.
So, what do these two parables have to say to us today – in the midst of lockdown, in this time of waiting?
Jesus shows us that we are to be watchful, awake and alert. Being watchful looks like guarding our own hearts – we talked about this yesterday… but also too our relationships with others. In this period where tensions are high, where we feel frustrated and under the pump, the enemy can have an absolute field day in using that to sew disorder and division amongst us. How do we counteract that? We read in James that believers are to be ‘quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry’. How often do we find with us that it is the other way round? Listening is such a powerful way in which we love and serve others. It’s this act of stopping whatever we are doing and really focusing our attention on another that not only affirms them but enables us to better connect and relate to them.
Are we being watchful when it comes to how we relate to one another? Are we alert to where the enemy might be trying to get in? Are we mindful of the need to really listen in a time where many of us feel distracted, frustrated and inward looking?
Jesus also shows us that waiting involves working, in being faithful. Faithful to our Master – again we spoke about this yesterday, this pressing into God through his word each day. But faithful also to people, our families, our communities and our church. In these difficult days where things are really tough and people are fearful, the power of serving and loving others is magnified even further. What we do for others now will be remembered in the period to come.
It’s not easy. Life and its challenges right now feel all consuming. Believe me, I get that. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to come fill us. To open our eyes. To be alert and ready. That we may be on guard against where the enemy is trying to divide us. And that our hearts may be open and awakened to respond to the need that we see around us.
Jesus, we bring before you today the frustrations of this present season, of all that is happening around us and to us. Lord, where we don’t understand, where we feel like things are simply out of our control we bring that to you now. Jesus, fill us today with your Holy Spirit. We breathe you in now.
Lord, open our ears and eyes that we may hear and see one another better today. That we may listen and love well. Help us to be watchful in prayer and faithful in action today for you Lord and for your kingdom. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 24:36-51
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will 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; 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. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; 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 of 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 the 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. Truly I tell you, 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.’