Turn in your Bible to Luke 12:35-48. Jesus turns His attention here to the issue of how we live daily as His disciples. He's especially concerned that His disciples would live in such a way that they are ready for His return. And He is particularly interested that His disciples would be good shepherds of His sheep and that His people would live lives of mutual service.

I. Be Ready

When you think about your life and make assessment of how you’re spending your time, money, and energy, what does it tell you about your readiness for the Lord's coming? That's the issue that Jesus is raising in this passage with His disciples. He gives a series of pictures of what it means to be ready, and you see several of them in the first few verses that we read.

Look at verse 35: “Stay dressed for action.” This word picture comes from the practice of Near Eastern men of tying up their long, flowing robes before he could run. In the next part of verse 35 He uses this picture: “Keep your lamps burning.” In Jesus’ day, when the sun went down it was dark. You had to be prepared with the right lamps, and you had to have plenty of oil for those lamps. You had to have your wicks trimmed to be ready to go. When He says, “Keep your lamps burning,” and, “stay dressed for action,” He is talking about an attitude toward life that is prepared to serve.

Verse 36 gives another picture. “Be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast.” These people are expectantly waiting for the head of the house to come back from the wedding feast so that, the minute that he comes into the courtyard, they are ready to spring to the door and welcome him home. All of these are pictures of living in such a way now so that whenever He returns we are ready for that return.

Jesus also pronounces blessing in verses 37-38. In verse 37 Jesus says, “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” Be awake, living in a way that readies you for His return. And verse 38 says, “If he comes in the second watch or in the third.” Even if He comes in the middle of the night when others are asleep, be ready.

II. Warnings to the Leaders

What does readiness mean in this passage? Readiness, in this passage, means, especially for pastors and elders, a mindset of always looking out for the wellbeing of the flock. For others, it means a mindset in which we are bent to do the will of Jesus. Notice that Peter basically asks, “Jesus, do I need to be listening to this?” Jesus is interesting in the way He responds. “Who then is the faithful and wise manager?” If Jesus is going to tell you now what it means to be ready, we ought to be all ears.

The one who is ready is the one who, when the householder goes away, gives to the household their food at the proper time.  Jesus is saying to Peter, “Peter, I'm going to go away. While I'm away, I want you to feed My sheep with the Word of God. I don't want you to use them; I want you to serve them. That's what it means for you, Peter, to be ready.” The application of that comes home very directly to all those who are pastors and elders because that's what they’re called to do. They must live in such a way that it is a prime concern to seek the wellbeing of this flock in our lives. Pray for your pastors and elders to live in such a way that their prime concern is to feed the flock.

And Jesus very clearly in this passage says, “When I come, the way that the servant fares will depend on how well he has taken care of My flock.” He uses very strong language, but it's not different from language used elsewhere in the New Testament. Turn to Hebrews 13:17. “For they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” Those pastors and elders are going to stand before the judgment throne of God and give an account as to whether they have lived their lives in such a way that it was their prime concern that the flock of God was fed the Word of God.

III. Warning to the People

This passage is not just for the disciples and pastors and elders. It is for all of us, and you see that at the very end of the passage. Look at verse 48. Jesus says, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Jesus didn't answer Peter's question directly because he was both speaking to the disciples and for all. He had a specific message in these stories for His disciples, but He was also speaking for us all. And the “for us all” is this: “to whom much is given, much is required.”

How then are we all to be ready like Jesus says in this passage? It is by not looking out for ourselves but by being concerned for the wellbeing of one another. Notice how He describes the bad servant in this passage. Look at verse 45. He beats the other servants and hogs the food and wine. Therefore the master's going to come when that servant's not expecting it, and he's going to “cut him to pieces.”

So what are we called to do? We are called, in the local congregation, to live a life of self-renouncing love towards one another. Yes, we're to love everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, but especially in the context of the congregation we are to live a life of others-serving love. So think, are you so happy and satisfied because you've got a group of good friends that love you and love Jesus, but you’re not thinking about people with great problems, obstacles, and loneliness in your congregation? Jesus says, “When I come, faithful servants are going to be ready. And the way that they’re ready is they’re going to be living lives that are all about serving one another, looking out for one another.” Do we live life like that, or is our life filled up with a lot of other stuff?

Here's what I want to challenge you. Every time you hear those words, “Are you ready?” hear Jesus asking you: “Are you ready for Me to come? Are you living so that when I come I find you encouraging one another, loving one another, serving one another, helping one another?” By God's grace, may He enable us to answer with integrity, “Yes, Lord, we're living to serve You. We’re living to serve Your flock.” But you can only answer that way by grace because by nature we're selfish. It's only the grace of the Gospel that can liberate you to live for other people. May He help you do that.