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LESSON 11 - WE'RE ON OUR WAY (LUKE 12:35-40 & MATT 25:35-40)

Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. 

INTRODUCTION: This week we turn our attention to parables that
teach us to be ready and teach us the importance of helping others.

I. WATCHING?

     A. Turn with me to Luke, chapter 12. Luke 12 starts out 
     telling us in v. 1 that the crowd around Jesus was so great
     that the crowd was out of control. 

          1. Are you afraid of crowds?

          2. What if you were in the middle of a crowd that was 
          trampling people?  How would you feel?

     B. In this context Jesus begins speaking to his disciples 
     about the importance of paying attention to God: both to be
     concerned about pleasing Him and also knowing that He is
     concerned and cares for us.

          1. Do you think Jesus' remarks relate to the crowd? (Yes.
          If you were in the center of a swirling mass of humanity
          you might be concerned about your own skin.)

     C. Move down to vv. 35-36 where our parable starts. Read.

     D. Let's talk about home security in Jesus' day. How do you
     think they kept the "bad guys" out in those days? Did they
     have locks, motion sensors, cameras, alarms, etc.? (They had
     humans keeping their eyes open, sounding the alarm when
     necessary and opening the door when necessary.)

          1. What kind of servants are described in vv. 35-36? 
          (Watchman. The substitute for locks,etc.)

          2. Why did Jesus have to tell them to have their clothes
          on? Is there something strange about this household?
          (This, and the fact that v. 35 refers to keeping the
          "lights burning," tells us that this is night. These are
          night watchman.)

               a. Is it normal to be up at night? (It is "normal"
               to sleep at night. So Jesus starts out with a story
               where He is describing work that goes against our
               natural inclination.)

     E. Let's assume you are a regular night watchman at this 
     place. The master leaves. What is your first thought? (Where
     is he going and about when will he return?) 

          1. What is significant about the fact that he is going to
          a wedding? (Very hard to predict how long he will be
          gone.  Not like a trip to town. Not like a regular
          meeting.  You just cannot begin to predict when he will
          come home.)

          2. Notice that the master knocks on the door. What kind
          of watchman are these? What does the fact that he has to
          knock on the door tell you? 

               a. Let's assume that it is "OK" for the watchman to
               simply (and promptly) answer the door. How would
               you describe this job if you were hiring for this
               position? (Not strenuous duty. Not a test of the
               eyes. Just a test of being alert during a time when
               it "goes against the grain." Being ready to answer
               the door is the number one job requirement.) 

          3. How does prophecy fit in here? Are the servants 
          rewarded for peering into the doom to be the first to
          recognized that the master is on his way? (No. When he
          comes will be obvious then. Just be ready whenever He
          comes.)

     F. Read Luke 12:37-38. If the servants are ready, what does
     the master do? (The roles are reversed! He takes care of them
     just as they are supposed to take care of him!)

          1. Is this a teaching about heaven?

          2. What does this teach us about heaven?

          3. Skip back a few verses and look at Luke 12:22, 30-31.
          Is there any relationship between these two teachings?
          (On a superficial level, it says that God will take care
          of us here and in heaven.  However, there is much more
          here.)

               a. If the servants (the watchmen from v. 37) had 
               been doing their job, wouldn't they have the food
               ready already? (No!  If you put Jesus' teachings
               together He is saying that our focus should not be
               feeding our face. We are not to be "cooking," but
               "watching."  Our focus should be "seeking the
               kingdom" (v.31)  If we "seek the kingdom," if we
               are "watching when he comes" (v.37), He will take
               care of us now (vv. 29-31) and He will take care of
               us in heaven (v.37).)


          4. The "second watch" is between 9 p.m. and midnight. The
          "third watch" is between midnight and 3 p.m. Why does
          Jesus add that it will be good for the servants, even if
          the master comes at the second or third watch? (These are
          the times a servant might think it most unlikely that the
          master would come.  These are also the times that it is
          most difficult to watch. The later it gets, the more your
          natural heart turns to sleeping.)

     G. Let's read on. Luke 12:38-40. We shift gears from servants
     to the owner of the house.

          1. Who does the owner represent? (Us)

          2. Who does the thief represent? (God! You will not be so
          surprised if you remember in Lesson 8 we had Jesus
          extolling the shrewdness of the dishonest manager who
          "cut a deal" with all of the owners debtors to put them
          in his debt because he was about to be fired. (Luke 16))

               a. Wait a minute! Does the thief represent God or
               does the "timing" of the thief represent the
               "timing" of God? (It is the timing that is the
               parallel.)

                    (1) If Luke were just "making this up," would
                    he use this illustration? (Whenham points out
                    in "The Parables of Jesus," p. 76, that this
                    shows the reliability of the Gospel writers.
                    If you were trying to make this look
                    "religious," you would not choose this story.)

          3. Let's set this up. [Write this caption on the
          blackboard: "Owner Who Catches Thief/Owner Who Misses
          Thief." Then make two columns on the blackboard: "In
          Common," and "Different."]
          
               a. Tell me what these two have in common? (They both
               want to keep their stuff; they both are willing to
               confront the thief; they both lack knowledge of
               when the thief will come.)

               b. What is different about them? (One was watching
               all the time so that whenever the thief came he was
               ready.)

               c. Is it "enough" to want to go to heaven? Is it 
               "enough" to be willing to stand against Satan? (No.
               What is "enough,' is to be watching all the time.)

               d. What does it mean to "watch?"  That is, what will
               you do differently Monday if you decide to "watch?"
               Our next parable gives us one definition of
               "watching."

II. HELPING

     A. We turn now to another parable found in Matthew 25:31-40.
     This parable follows the parable of the servants being
     entrusted with talents that we studied a few weeks ago. Read.

          1. Is this another parable of the judgment? (Clearly, 
          yes.)

          2. What is the criteria for the separation? (Helping "the
          least of the brothers." (v.40))

          3. Remember the lawyer asked "Who is my neighbor?" when
          we studied the parable of the Good Samaritan? Who is
          Jesus' "brother?" This is an incredibly important
          question.

               a. Notice that Jesus refers to Himself in v.31 as
               the "Son of Man."  He also refers to "All the
               nations" coming before Him for judgment in v. 32.
               Does this mean that everyone in "the nations" is
               our brother?

               b. Someone read Matt. 12:47-50. Who does Jesus 
               identify as His "brother, sister and mother" here?
               ("Whoever does the will of my Father...")

     (I wish we were talking about brothers in Christ, because this
     is a lot easier and makes more sense from the view that we are
     "helping Jesus" when we help a "brother."  However, notice
     that the "sheep" are surprised to find that they helped Jesus
     when they helped the "stranger." This may very well mean there
     is no logical connection between helping these needy and
     helping Jesus. Of the commentators I consulted, Elwell, Bruce
     and Matthew Henry suggest this refers to brothers in Christ.
     Wenham disagrees and calls the view that "brothers" are the
     poor in general, the "traditional view."  The SDA Commentary
     is unclear on this specific point, but seems to accept the
     broader view by speaking of "fellow man." EGW in "Desire of
     Ages" chapter 70 ("The Least of These My Brethren") first
     specifically makes the linkage to followers of Christ. "All
     who have been born into the heavenly family are in a special
     sense the brethren of our Lord." (p. 638)  Later, however, she
     clearly endorses the broader view, "[Jesus] followers are not
     to feel themselves detached from the perishing world around
     them." (Id.)

          4. Does this show us that we are saved by our works?

               a. Why are the "sheep" unconscious of having done
               these works?

               b. If they have done these works, but are not really
               aware, how do you explain this? (As we draw closer
               to God, our hearts are changed. We develop an
               attitude of willingness to help.  Helping is not
               salvation. Helping is a result of our heart being
               converted.)

          5. Read vv. 41-46. Are those who are lost unaware that
          they failed to help? (Yes.) 

               a. How can that be? (They must have been blinded by
               selfishness.  Concern for their "luxuries" caused
               them not to consider the poor.)

               b. Do those who are unconcerned about helping in the
               same class as those who do evil? (Sobering
               thought!)

III. NEXT WEEK: "WHEN FIVE PLUS FIVE EQUALED FIVE." The parable of
the 10 virgins. Study!