We started looking at the Sermon on the Mount, we saw who Christ considered to be blessed in this world – -the poor, the meek, the person of peace. We tried to see how Jesus wanted us to live in relation to other people. We saw that though the Golden Rule is a good thing, we seem to be called to an even higher rule –we are to do unto others as Christ did unto them. We learned that discipleship, in Christ’s view, was the servant knowing his place behind his master. The student knowing her place at the foot of her teacher. And we learned what the cost of that discipleship could mean to us. And last week, we spoke about how our forgiving of others is directly related to how much we believe that God has forgiven us.
If we believe that Jesus meant what he said and if we believe that we are indeed meant to follow it, then we need to ask if there is any real benefit or consequence to answering yes to those questions. Matthew 24 seems to answer that for us. The good and terrible answer is that one day Jesus will come back. It’s good news if we are found following the master’s footsteps. It’s terrible news if we are not.
There are times that Jesus speaks in parables and mysteries, this is not one of those times. His words here are very to the point and direct. His understanding of how we are to live our lives seems to be very important to him. He wants to make it clear to us that there will come a day when he will return and he will judge his servants on whether or not they have obeyed their master, on whether or not they have followed in the footsteps of their teacher.
I think that Jesus is adamant about this point because he knows how easy it is for us to do what we think is right in life. He knows how easy it is to live for ourselves and for our own comfort. He very much grasps how easy it is for us to lean on our own understanding. And when we do those things, we become the servant Jesus talks about in the scripture. We find that we have forgotten that our master will return one day and that he will want an accounting from his stewards for what he has left us in charge of. This can be rightly viewed as terrifying. If we have decided to go our own way, if we have decided that we know better than Jesus, then that will be a sad day indeed for us. But I hope that we will really view this as a message of hope. These words of Christ as an inspiration for joy and peace.
Christ isn’t expecting us to make every right decision, or to have a perfect theological system, or to know which choice is always better than the alternative choice. What he expects of us is that we live how he lived, in every situation we find ourselves, every day of our lives. We are to be people of peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, forgiveness, and above all love.