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The Parable of The Alert Servant Made Simple

Mark 13-33-37

Mark 13:33-37 reads:

“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It’s like a man going out to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to you all: Watch!”

Jesus has just shared all about the signs of the time. He had been sharing that there’s going to be false Christs and there’s going to be tribulation. The stars of Heaven will fall and He’s been sharing all sorts of things that are going to happen before the coming of the end of days.

You know, Jesus is a wonderful person and in this process of reading or listening to these parables, I hope that you’re capturing a good understanding of who He is and what’s really going on. Today, Jesus really has gone to a far country. This isn’t a parable anymore. When Jesus was on earth, this was a parable with a funny significance but He hadn’t gone to a far country then. But now Jesus has gone to a far country and he’s not here. It says just before this that the day of his second coming, of that day no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven nor the Son, but only the Father.

I’ve heard many recent accounts of people who’ve met Jesus in Heaven, have met the Father in Heaven and they have said that the time is very near. Time is very short and Jesus is coming back very soon.

But here is a parable. Jesus often talks about leaving people in charge. In the Parable of the Ten Talents and the Parable of the Minas, Jesus speaks about going away and leaving us to do something good and faithful while He is gone. In the Parable of the Five Foolish Virgins, people were waiting for a time and for the bride groom to come back and that the coming was delayed. In the Parable of the Wedding Feast the king sent out for people to come to the feast but they wouldn’t come. Jesus was often pointing people towards his return.

And in this parable, it’s nothing new. Jesus here is talking about coming back at a time that no one knows. So, what do you do? What do you do if you’re one of these people who the Lord has left in charge? What do you do when a master isn’t coming back and is delayed? How do you conduct your business?

I remember when I worked for McDonald’s Corporation. I worked in four different restaurants three times. I worked in stores that were privately owned by a franchisee. The franchisee operated the McDonald’s business as his own and paid McDonald’s commissions on all the sales he did and bought all his food from McDonald’s and paid the lease of his building to them as well. But essentially, he owned the business. And these owners I worked for, the two men were fantastic guys and were really friendly to me and treated me like a son.

Conversely there was a time I went and worked for a McDonald’s store that was owned by the McDonald’s Company. It had a manager in charge. But the store management and the management team weren’t privately owned. In other words, it didn’t have a private owner. It had McDonald’s Corporation as the owner and the reason for this was the store was new and it didn’t have enough sales per week to sell to a private owner. It wasn’t successful. They’re waiting for a few years time when there would be a lot of new development in the area.

Anyway, when I used to work there, they had an area supervisor who used to come and check on our store. He had a number of stores under his authority. Sometimes, another store would tip us off and say, “He’s just left our store. He’s going to your store now.” And as soon as our managers heard he was coming, there would be a scurry of them telling us to clean the cooking area and all parts of the store. We would all be rushing like madmen to make the store shine spic and span.

For a little while, I used to go along with these requests. But one day, I put my foot down on the manager on duty and then eventually the store manager. I said, “This isn’t just not on. Every time you put pressure on the staff to clean up the store because this area supervisor is coming. That’s total disrespect for the McDonald’s Corporation. We’re not expected to clean and scour and because the area supervisor is coming. The store is meant to be clean all the time. People are meant to be doing their job all the time. They’re meant to have a good job. The store’s meant to be looking good all the time and you should manage your store that way. You shouldn’t be putting pressure on the staff to get the store cleaned in 10 minutes because an area supervisor is coming around.” You can only imagine how that went down with the store manager.

This is similar to what Jesus is saying - that we, as Christians, should live our life in such a way that we are doing the Christian life perfectly, in the most beneficial way to other people who live on this earth. In the Parable of the Five Foolish Virgins, I shared that the wise virgins lived a life that consisted of joy in the presence of the Holy Spirit; they had peace and love. They lived joyfully in an abiding relationship with Jesus.

This is how the Christian life should be lived. There should be no fear of Jesus coming back. You should have “no hands in the cookie jar”. There should be no one stealing, no one treating people indifferently, no one having bad attitudes. There should be nothing going wrong. There should be nothing wrong with your life on a day to day basis. Jesus shouldn’t catch you off guard. Instead you should be feeling joy. You should live a life of peace from sun up to the time you go to sleep. You should feel contented and know that you’re loved and accepted by Jesus Christ. We’re meant to live in a relationship where everything is fine and dandy all the time.

Now, life has its struggles, its ups and downs. It has its hard difficult times. This parable isn’t saying that life has to always be rosy and the sun has to be shining on you everyday. But it’s certainly not saying to be living in a sinful way where the master coming back early would surprise you and cause any trouble.

One of the parables talks of the wise and faithful servant who’s doing what his master commands him to do and it talks of the evil servant who’s treating people badly and drinking with other people. Sadly, many Christians live a lifestyle where there’s not much difference between them and the non-Christians in the world. This isn’t the way we should be living in our world. I’m not laying down the law here and condemning people for drinking or having a life that has sin in it.

I am the first one to admit that I’ve lived a life of sin and I’ve struggled with many sins. I’ve lived so many years under an indoctrination of judgment and condemnation. I’ve certainly pulled myself out of that condemnation and that idea of having to work more in self righteousness in order to be accepted by God. Nonetheless, no matter how I feel and no matter how set free by the grace of God I am, there is warning in Jesus’ parables that we should be conducting our lives in a holy and righteous way.

Now, not every person can be righteous all the time and holiness doesn’t come from self worth. It comes from the power and the enabling of the Holy Spirit through the grace of God and the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. But Jesus is saying here that we should be living in a manner that is ready for Him to come back at any time. We should be conducting our personal life and our business affairs appropriately; in a way that brings honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. We should be bringing Jesus glory and honor in everything that we do by conducting ourselves in a totally hospitable way that brings Him praise forevermore.

I hope that you have learned something from this: that there are many things in the Bible that Jesus asked us to do. Essentially, we need to love God and our fellow man. I think that one of the signs of the times that are mentioned in the Bible is that “the love of many grows cold” and we are living in a society where many people just don’t care for each other and so many people are bound up in selfishness and living for self. I think that anyone who wants to act righteously and honorably for Jesus Christ would be giving up some of their time and their money to the less fortunate people. This is being a Christ-like person. A Christian means “little Christ” - a life of self denial, a life where you imitate Jesus or you imitate Paul. Paul wasn’t someone who was given to his own luxuries and given to an easy life.

I’m not saying that the Christian life should be sad or hard or anything laborious. The Christian life is something that should be enjoyed and we need to learn to find our calling and purpose so we can live them. I hope that you’ve enjoyed one of the parables that I’ve had to share here. I pray that God will find you in the right place when Jesus comes to collect you.



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