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The Return

• Greg Boyd

Many well-meaning Christians speculate about the end of the world and the return of Jesus. The problem is that most of these perspectives vary greatly and can cause a lot of fear and stress. But when we hear Jesus’ teaching about the end of the world, he focuses us in a direction that is quite different than many of today’s popular ideas.

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This passage speaks to the return of Jesus and the end of this age. For some, references like this from the Bible are problematic. There have been so many predictions about the end and the return of Christ that proved false. There have been sensationalist books that seem to cause more confusion. And there have been plenty of scary sermons that aim to straighten people out.

On top of this, passages like this are full of imagery, which leads some to just stop trying to understand and move on to something less mysterious. However, since Jesus speaks about His return, it is important to listen to what He says.

From this passage we can learn three basic things:

  1. The Master is coming back. Jesus will return and this epoch in history will suddenly come to an abrupt halt. What we cannot know though is the exact time of His return. And to spend time trying to predict the return of the Master is to miss the point of Jesus’ teaching here. Speculations about the end times are massive distractions. Preoccupation with end times is like a servant more preoccupied with trying to figure out details of a Masters return than with carrying out the will of the Master for the house.
  2. We are called to be faithful servants in God’s house. This is a call to constant faithfulness. By contrast, waiting on the Master’s return should not be shaped by a pessimistic view of this life where we assume that nothing can be done of any value. We need to surrender our autonomy and yield to the Spirit and live in community. Living in community we can manifest the peaceful character of God which means caring for the poor and showing passionate concern for injustice in our world.
  3. We will be rewarded and/or punished based upon our faithfulness. The servants in this parable are rewarded or punished based on the faithfulness they demonstrate, which is a teaching found throughout New Testament. We are to be faithful servants working to reflect the character of our Master in this life. Our character needs to be conformed to the character of Christ. Today is the day to be a faithful servant. The future is not guaranteed so we need to listen to the Spirit and obey.
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Topics: End Times, Faithfulness, Fear

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 12:35-48

    “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 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. 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. 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. 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. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

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

    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? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 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. 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.

    “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. 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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