PLUCKED FROM THE FIRE

Opening Prayer

Thank you, Gracious God, for teaching me in your Word. Through it, you have shown me how to come to you, to walk with you, to live for you, to have hope for eternity. Hallelujah!

Read LUKE 12:35-48

Watchfulness

35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 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 unbelievers.

47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

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New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

‘We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts … We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.’1

Think Further

We begin with one of Jesus’ most recognizable themes: he will return unexpectedly. Jesus uses the well-known first- century understanding of the servant-master relationship. Jesus will return suddenly, bringing history to a close and ushering in the new order. We must be ready for God’s new kingdom. Two thousand years of waiting dulls our sense of expectation, but we must be alert, living in eager anticipation of the life to come.

From this simple teaching, Jesus shifts the master/servant metaphor into one of Scripture’s most difficult themes: the notion of different levels of punishment.2 Envisaging how individualized punishments might be applied is purposely hidden from us. The future holds mysteries which we cannot know. Our limited minds cannot contain the mind of God. Puzzling over punishment, the medieval church revived the old idea of ‘purgatory,’ a place where people destined for heaven were made holy before being allowed in. While I don’t believe in the grim purgatory of the medieval painters, I cannot ignore Jesus’ warnings. I cannot avoid the disturbing truth that I am one who dares to teach and lead the church. I have been ‘entrusted with much’ (v 48) and I will be ‘judged more strictly.’3 Heaven holds only peace, joy, and freedom from all pain and distress. Will this stricter judgment happen before I enter God’s eternity? Paul told church leaders that those who built people’s faith on lasting foundations will be rewarded. Those who did not, whose work lacked permanence, would also be saved but only as people ‘escaping through the flames.’4 Do any of us deserve heaven? Like John Wesley, perhaps we should think of ourselves as ‘a brand plucked from the fire.’5 Jesus will take us to heaven, but some of us will have questions to answer before we get there!

Apply

Let us confess our failings to the Lord of the judgment who is both our Redeemer and our Judge. May God forgive our sins, have mercy on us, open the gate of heaven, and let us in.

Closing prayer

As I wait for Jesus’ return, Holy Spirit, teach me to be steadfast, to be watchful, to be ready. As I wait, spur me on to serve him faithfully, prayerfully, and sacrificially, sharing him with others so that they, too, might look forward to his coming.

Last Updated on November 24, 2023 by kingstar

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