“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?”Luke 12:39-41
No wonder Peter asks the question,”Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” What Jesus said is a little confusing, even to those of us who are paying attention to the subtleties. One moment, we are soaring high on the thoughts of the coming Bridegroom, and how we as servants, are going to be served by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and contemplating the End of the Age. Now, suddenly thieves are coming to plunder the household and the servants are urged to stay alert. Lord, hang on a moment. Let me work out what you are saying here. Is this parable of the thief meant for us disciples? I think you have been directing what you have been saying to us disciples. But now you are confusing me because I don’t know where we fit in this story. I think we are still the servants, Lord. Is that right? Or perhaps, do you mean we are thieves? The head of the house, perhaps? Can you explain this to us please Jesus? You have lost us.
It is actually hard to tell what Peter is wondering about. There are a number of possibilities. Is this parable for the disciples or for the multitude? It seems the crowd is still there in the background. The Lord used parables with the disciples. Parables were used to tell deeper things of the Kingdom, without sharing the full story, in order to hide the deeper truth from others – so that “seeing they will not see and hearing they will not hear.” So Peter asks, “Is this parable for us or for them?” There is another level of complication here. Which parable is Peter referring to in his question? The question is “parable” singular, but there are two parables. So which one is Peter referring to, when he asks his question? Is he meaning the first parable about the master coming from the wedding feast, or is he referring to the thief coming in the night? Time for you to ponder the subtleties. The subtleties lie in who it is meant for, and whether both parables are in focus or just one. And if just one, which one? I know what I think but I will leave you with the puzzle to gain some mental exercise. It will help keep Alzheimer’s away.
Yes, the transition was rather abrupt and the examples dissimilar, but the focus is still the same. The point of comparison is still about watchfulness. Jesus has increased the need for watchfulness. In the first example, the event anticipated is a pleasant one and one which is expected. There is even a degree of predictability as to when the owner of the house will return. If it is indeed a wedding feast we are talking about, then we know how many days the festivities will continue and approximately when the man / bridegroom will return. But in the case of the thief, the predictability has vanished. The phrase a “thief in the night” is an idiom for unexpected events. Not only is the coming of a thief unexpected, the fact that we are talking about a thief, means the thief will do all in his power to strike when the owner least expects it. Hence, there is an extra level of vigilance needed to not be caught by surprise. The thief will choose the moment when you least expect it. Both segments advise the disciples to be ready. The first via a promise, the second via a warning. If you knew the time, you wouldn’t “be caught napping”. So be ready. Just like the household doesn’t know when the master is coming back from the wedding feast, and you certainly don’t know when the thief will come. So too, the Son of Man will come when you least expect Him. At an hour that will catch you by surprise, like a thief in the night.
We will look at Jesus’ answer in the next Gem. Today’s is a short Gem because you have some homework to do and also the last few Gems have been longer ones. Take a break, call the servants and relax with your favourite drink and some brain food before you tackle this puzzle. But if you like, rather than asking the servants to bring you a drink, you can get up and get your own, and while you are at it, get one for them too. Surprise them! Maybe by that act, you will be depositing into your heavenly bank account.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or at eighty.Ian Vail
Anyone who keeps learning stays young. Keep your mind young.Henry Ford
When asked why he was doing a NT Greek course at 93, Oliver Wendell Holmes replied, “It’s now or never.”Oliver Wendell Holmes
You are blessed if you have friends who can help you go to the next level in life. They are more valuable than money.Anon
It is impossible for a Christian to have a secular job. Doing things in church doesn’t make it holy. It was holy before that.Rob Bell