Jesus continually presses his disciples to be aware of time.
Jesus wants us to be aware of the time in which we live. This means that we know where we are in “salvation history”—between the first coming of Jesus and the second. This means that we know that we are awaiting the bridegroom, which means a certain degree of sorrow and groaning (and fasting). This means that we know the world in which we live—the spirit of our age and its unique blend of good and evil.
Jesus wants us to take each day seriously. Each day has its own trouble and demands its own attention. While we are aware of where we are in the broader scope of time, our lives are comprised of days. We must be busy in serving the Lord, loving and blessing others, and growing into the image of Christ--today. There will come a time when no one can work.
Do you know your time? What will you do with today?
Jesus causes a scene in the temple. “And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, ‘Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers”(Mark 11:15-17).
The reason for Jesus’ aggressiveness in removing the merchants and moneychangers from the temple is that they are violating God’s purpose for the temple. God wants the temple to be a house for people to pray, not to do business. Coming to worship God should not include dodging animal droppings and blocking out the patter of salesmen. These things belong to another time and place; the temple is the time and place for prayer.
While Jesus teaches us that the temple will not be the center of worship (John 4:21), he continues to affirm the vital place worship retains in those who seek the favor of God (John 4:23-24).
Worship is serious to Jesus. This means that disciples must carve out times and spaces where we can worship regularly and with minimal distractions.
Worship is serious to Jesus. This means that disciples must focus intently on God and his will for us. We give him our attention and our honor. We humble ourselves before him. Whether inside a church building or somewhere else, we give our whole hearts and bodies over to worship.
Worship is serious to Jesus. Is it serious to us?
Having just come face to face with the hypocrisy of some Pharisees, Jesus has a lesson for his disciples. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops”(Luke 12:1-3).
Read those words again carefully. Obviously Jesus is saying that hypocrisy will be exposed. But he promises far more than that. Jesus asserts that no secret will stay secret. Everything men work to hide will be exposed.
What if there were no secrets? There would be no national security intrigue—no nuclear or intelligence secrets. Crimes would be prosecuted far differently, since guilt would be apparent. Sporting events would go far differently since both teams’ game plans would be known. But most of all, relationships would be affected. How many marriages would fall apart if mates knew one another’s secrets? How many friendships would be damaged? How many families upended?
Jesus promises that this is exactly what will happen. “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” He is exposing the fact that we prefer to build our lives and relationships by hiding part of ourselves from others. He assures us that such secrets—and the advantages we gain from them—are temporary. Such things usually come to light eventually in a physical sense—but Jesus is telling us that they surely will at the last day.
So what is the point of this saying? Jesus wants his disciples to live so that when our secrets are exposed, they are consistent with what we have claimed to be. How does your life fare by that standard?
Americans fixate on material things this time of year. Thanksgiving gives way to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Christmas has become a primarily commercial holiday. It is important that disciples remember Jesus’ perspective: “Take care, and be on your guard against covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”(Luke 12:15). You are more than your stuff.
We spend much of our time and energy in pursuit of money and possessions. Jesus tells a story about a man with this same ambition: “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry’”(Luke 12:16-18). The man’s ideal life involves having so much that he never again has to worry or work. He can simply spend his time enjoying his work.
Yet what is lost in this story (which probably sounds pretty good to modern Americans!) is the cost of this goal. What about the years of life lost in working so hard for stuff? What about the neglect of more important things along the way? What about when nest eggs are wiped out by market downturns (or, in Jesus’ words, moth and rust destroy it)? What about the relationships we allow to languish in our pursuit of the ever-elusive comfortable life? What about the kids whose childhoods we miss? What about the sharing we refuse to do because we are saving for “someday”? “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God”(Luke 12:20-21). The man suddenly comes to the end of his life and only realizes then how terribly he has miscalculated.
You are more than your stuff. Your job is not all that matters about you. The pleasure that comes from possessions is fleeting and incomplete. The time will come when your net worth not be measured in dollars. Accept possessions as blessings from God. Use them to bless others and to honor God. Prepare not just for retirement, but for the future when your soul—your true life—is required of you.