Just what exactly does Jesus want us to do? – A Reflection of Matthew 24 & 25

After Jesus left the temple and was walking away alone, a group of followers ran to Him asking, “Rabbi, isn’t all these buildings magnificent?”

Jesus stared at them for a bit and said, “Do you see all these things?” He let out a big sigh and probably shook His head, “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

The followers are all in shock. What do you mean thrown down? The temple took a staggering 46 years to construct. It was an engineering marvel. What do you mean thrown down? The followers must have bugged Jesus a whole lot, but He refused to answer. After shaking them off and slipping away as He always did, the twelve came to Him asking the exact same question, “Tell us, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus looked into their weary eyes. He knew their concern and the deep sadness within their hearts. And in quietness, He explained.

“Jesus listed down things we ought not to do.”

Here, He listed a few pointers of the things that will happen, like the rising of false prophets (Matthew 24:5), wars (Matthew 24:6-7), famine and natural disasters (Matthew 24:7), persecutions of the elect (Matthew 24:9), the breaking away of the faith (Matthew 24:10), moral corruption (Matthew 24:12), the discouragement of the faithful elect (Matthew 24:12), and the gospel being spread to the ends of the world (Matthew 24:14).

The list is long, and the explanations are detailed. But when it comes to what is expected of believers, Jesus chose to list down things we ought not to do instead. He probably saw the confusion of His disciples, so He sat them down and started talking about something that they know.

Remember Noah?

“In the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:38-39, NIV).

Note the key words here: eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. They kept doing this. They didn’t know the flood will happen. Likewise, they will not know that the Son of Man will come. Now, does it mean that this is bad?

Now, the disciples are probably even more confused than ever.

So, we cannot eat, drink, and marry? What must we do?

Jesus, knowing their confusion, thought for a while. This time, He brought up the story of Lot.

“Remember Lot?” He probably asked His disciples gently.

“It was the same in the days of Lot!” He exclaimed. “People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:28-29, NIV).

“What you own is no longer important when Jesus comes again.”

What? So, does it mean to say, on top of eating and drinking, we cannot buy, sell, plant, and build? And all these will be destroyed?

Concerned disciples were probably in shock at this point in time. Just how can they make sense of Jesus’ teachings?

So, He gathered them in and explained what happened during Lot. What you own is no longer important when Jesus comes again. If you’re on the housetop with possessions inside, don’t go and get them. If you’re in the field, don’t go and grab your things either (Luke 17:31, NIV). “Remember what happened to Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32)

I think Jesus is crying with anxiety for them at this point.

He sighed and continued, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33, NIV)

At this point, Jesus must have been so worked up that He took a moment to quieten down Himself. He took a deep breath and asked, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” (Matthew 24:45-47, NIV).

“Jesus wants us to be His faithful and wise servants. And He has already placed us in charge with a specific task.”

Till this point, this is what we have gathered:

  • Jesus does not want us to focus on eating, drinking marriages, relationships, family, work, real estate, plantation, and anything earthly that can be destroyed.
  • Rather, Jesus wants us to be His faithful and wise servant.
  • And on top of this, we are placed in charge of the servants in His household with a specific task of giving them their food at the proper time.

So, Jesus went on to give three very famous examples of what it really meant to be a wise and faithful servant. I will break it down for you here:

A wise and faithful servant is:

  • One who knows what one’s Master requires of them and make sufficient preparation for it (Matthew 25:1-13, Luke 12:35-37)
  • One who will faithfully manage the Master’s property until He returns according to the talents given to them (Matthew 25:14-30)
  • And one who will feed the hungry, offer drinks to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the poor, and visit those in prison (Matthew 25:35-36, 42-43).

So, in Jesus’ eyes, wealth is not to be accumulated on earth. Whatever we do amounts to nothing. If we were to spend our lives on material wealth, then we will not be “rich towards God” (Luke 12:21, NIV).

“In Jesus’ eyes, wealth is not to be accumulated on earth.”

But this is Jesus’ logic of wealth: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34, NIV).

The wise and faithful servants all know this logic. They took the talents (or money) from the Master, invested everything on the needy. They make preparations beforehand because they knew that this is expected of them by the Master. With these preparations, they fed the needy with knowledge and skills, open the doors of opportunity to the foreigner (strangers), provide economic opportunities to clothe the poor, and as a community, care for those who are incarcerated.

“The wise and faithful servants fed the needy with knowledge and skills, open the doors of opportunity to the foreigners, provide economic opportunities to clothe the poor, and as a community, care for those who are incarcerated.”

They made preparations because they saw what needs to be done, and they brought oil (Matthew 25:4). With their preparations, they invested everything (Matthew 25:20, 22). And with these investments, they made profits for the Lord and provided likewise, for the needy.

This is unlike the conclusion that we have drawn in Matthew 24. Sure, eating and drinking are important. Sure, relationships, marriages, and family are important. Buying and selling, planting and building (Luke 17:28, NIV) are all important.

“What’s most important is the heart in which we do all these.”

But what’s most important is the heart in which we do all these. Are we doing them for ourselves, like the rich fool who earn a profit for his own enjoyment (Luke 12:18-19), or are we like the wise and faithful servant “whose Master finds him doing so when He returns” (Matthew 24:46, NIV).

Are we the wise and faithful servant? Or are we the rich fool?

If you are the wise and faithful servant, do what is required of you. Invest and start social enterprises and disciple the needy through them. Follow the guidelines Christ has set for us and “do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” (Luke 12:22-23, NIV).

“Invest and start social enterprises and disciple the needy through them. Follow the guidelines Christ has set for us and do not worry about your life. Your Father in Heaven knows that you need them and they will be given to you.”

“Your Father (in Heaven) knows that you need them.” So, “seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:30-31, NIV).

 

Picture source: https://unity-magazine.com/the-rise-of-the-social-enterprise/

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