Accompanying Mars Hill sermon by Dr Ed Stetzer: Waiting Ready: Between the Times
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Reward and Punishment at Christ's Return
In our passage today, Peter asks Jesus who the previous parable was for, the disciples or everyone? Who needed to hear the message? Yesterday's passage/message was to be ready for Christ's promised return because it would come at any time.
Christ's return was promised by God (OT prophecy), the Holy Spirit (who inspired the writings of the OT prophecy) and Jesus Himself. As MacArthur summarizes, this is a crucial point....
God's promise, Christ's promise, the Spirit's promise, the future of the church, the future of the world, the future of Israel, the future of Christ, the future of Satan, the future of believers, and the future of creation itself all demand that Jesus return. This is not a minor issue, this is the end of the whole story. And He is coming.
He is coming. The message is clear and unmistakable.
So, Peter wants to know, who the parable is for. Who needs to be ready? Jesus doesn't answer this question directly, but rather with another parable.
The parable shows us that there are basically two groups of people - the faithful and therefore ready, and the unfaithful and therefore not ready. The first group will be blessed, and the second group will be punished.
The faithful will be blessed with the kingdom. Not just of the kingdom - the entire kingdom! v32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
I think we probably all know people who seem to live life with the attitude of - I'll party and live how I want to now, and I'll worry about getting things right with God when I'm old, right before I die. That is obviously a very foolish way to live. First, because no one knows how long they'll live, and when they need to make it right with God. And secondly, because the further done the sin road you go, the harder it is to break free of that sin and willful disobedience and turn back to God - you've hardened your heart too much.
The reality is, the unfaithful will be punished. And apparently by degrees. This is an incredibly intense, descriptive and horrific portrayal of punishment. The most severe punishment - cut into pieces! The a severed beating, or a light beating. The degree of punishment appears to be based on how much was entrusted to you.
And the principle is, from everyone who has been given much, shall much be required and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. And here we find a very interesting principle, folks. Truth is dangerous. Truth is dangerous. Better to have never known than to have known and rejected. Better to have never known than to have known, rejected and rebelled.
This is a warning, plain and simple. And warning to the unbelievers not to harden their hearts to the point of no return, but to take the truth they've been given and follow it.
And it's a reminder to the faithful to persevere, and to continue to preach the gospel to a world in need while we still can.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 12:49-53