Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 8 2013 - Luke 12:35-59 – The Lord who serves

Luke records a number of parables in which Jesus tells his disciples always to be ready for the day of his return. One such parable is recorded in Luke 12:35-40. Jesus tells his disciples that they/we must always be alert and prepared for his coming:

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes...  even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak... You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

But what I find most remarkable about this parable is what Jesus says of the way the master will treat his servants who have been keenly waiting for his return, "Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them" (12:37). What an extraordinary statement. Certainly this is no description of what one might expect a master to do, even for the best of his servants. Jesus is clearly speaking here of himself. He came into this world not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for sinners. He is the one who at the last Passover meal which he ate with his disciples, got up from the table, wrapped a towel around his waist, took a bowl of water and washed his disciples' feet. He who was the Lord of Glory came to us as the Suffering Servant.

And in this remarkable parable we learn that he does not lay aside this role with his return to glory – nor at his second coming. We know that when he returns he will come in glory to judge the living and the dead; yet, here we are told that he will remain the Servant King. He comes to serve his servants and to bless those who have longed for his appearing. As he broke the bread for the two travellers to Emmaus on the day of his resurrection, so shall he break bread for us when he returns – we shall share in the wedding banquet.

Meanwhile, our Servant King calls us to follow him in lives of glad service – to be about the Master’s business. Jesus has entrusted us with the care of his world and the work of his kingdom. It’s as if we have been entrusted again with the care of a garden. What will the Master find when he returns? Will it be neglected, overgrown and filled with thorns and thistles or will it be carefully tended, dug and planted, full of the fruits of our labour and made beautiful with the colour and scent of its flowers? How are we tending the garden entrusted to our care?

The promise of the Master’s return should keep us busy in his service, ready for the moment when he shall appear and looking towards his commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Gracious Father, forgive me that I often live in a manner little different from those who do not know you and who do not look forward to Christ’s appearing. Help me not only to call Jesus “Lord” but to live, moment-by-moment in glad response to his love for me. Keep my lamp burning brightly. Help me by your Spirit to live in the light of his death and resurrection and towards the promise of his coming. Teach me the work you have for me to do and help me to do it willingly and well, just as Jesus gave himself willingly for me. May I delight in a life of service of you my God, of Christ my Lord and towards a world of need.

Apr 8 2019 - Judges 6:1-40 – Reluctant Gideon

Israelite disobedience had resulted in the withdrawal of the Lord's favour and protection. For seven years they had been oppressed by the Midianites and Amalekites who would invade their land at harvest time to plunder their crops and steal their livestock. In the end, in their despair the Israelites turned to the Lord and cried to him for help.

The Lord sent a prophet, but his message was not very encouraging. He reminded the people of all that the Lord had done for them and of their own ingratitude and unfaithfulness. The prophet's message seems to have amounted to little more than, "What do you expect if you abandon the Lord?" God wanted his people to understand that he is the source of all their blessing and prosperity; without him, they are in deep trouble.

But that is only the beginning of the Lord's response to his people's cry. The angel of the Lord (the Lord himself in human appearance), came down to visit a young man called Gideon and greeted him with the astonishing words, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior" (Judges 6:12).

The words are surprising on two counts. The first is expressed in Gideon's response, "If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?" (6:13). The second is the surprising description of Gideon as a mighty warrior. The angel has found him hiding from the Midianites in a winepress as he threshes wheat for the family; hardly the actions of a mighty warrior.

God's words are prophetic; they declare what shall be and what God is about to do through Gideon – God's word performs what it declares. Like Moses before him, Gideon is a reluctant leader of God's people, one who is anything but confident in his own ability. But this is the person whom God chooses to use; the person who knows that they are utterly dependent upon the presence and power of the Lord. When Gideon protests his weakness, the Lord promises, as he had promised Moses and Joshua, "I will be with you" (6:16).

But for Gideon, the promise of the messenger is not enough, he needs a sign. It is only when the food Gideon has brought for the visitor is consumed by fire that he realises that he has been in the presence of the Lord.

Gideon's first task is to remove idolatry from his town and family. Even in this he seems a reluctant warrior, for he destroys the altar of Baal and Ashterah pole during cover of darkness.

Before he will lead the tribe of Manasseh against the Midianites reluctant Gideon seeks further signs that the Lord will be with him. Twice he lays out his fleece and twice the Lord grants him a sign to confirm that he will be with him.

It's good to be a reluctant leader and to know that we can do nothing in our own strength. But it's also good to trust God and to take him at his word. It's good for us to remember that he has given us the ultimate sign of his faithfulness and power in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This is the demonstration of his love for and commitment to a weak and sinful people. This is the demonstration of his power to save and the promise that we shall be more than conquerors through him who loves us.

Mighty God, teach me my weakness and my perpetual need of your favour, presence and power. Then make me strong in you and equip me through the promises of your word and the power of your Spirit to do all that you purpose to do through me for the furtherance of your kingdom and the glory of your great name.

Peter Misselbrook