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Authentic Living in the light of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Date: 31 July 2022

Sermon Text: Luke 12:1–13:9

Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan



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Transcript Introduction

Blessed Sunday to all.


Ps Luwin has condensed for us into 1 sentence Luke’s Gospel, which is that - God is fulfilling his plan to establish his upside-down, outside-in kingdom in the world through the Spirit-filled ministry of Jesus Christ.


And next year as we look at Acts, we will see how through the church, God, by the power of the Spirit of Jesus will sent forth witnesses beyond Jerusalem, to preach of His Kingdom in Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth.


About the church, Paul says in Ephesians 5 that she is the bride of Christ. So loved by Christ that he gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour without spot or wrinkle, that she might be holy and without blemish.


I’ve highlighted this wedding imagery for us today as I hope it will be the carrot, the positive encouragement for us to live authentically in the light of Christ 2nd coming.


In today’s passage, there are many inferences to Christ 2nd coming. For example:


  1. 12:5 – fear him who after he has killed has authority to cast into hell.

  2. 12:40 – be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect

  3. 12:46 – the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know.


At Christ’s 2nd Coming, yes there would be an accountability, there would be a reckoning. But there will also be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb which is found in Rev 19.


Rev 19:6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

So Paul in Ephesians 5 gives us a foretaste of this scene in Rev 19. Would this glorious scene where the church is made ready for Christ be our encouragement to pursue Christ-likeness today?


What does it take to be married typically in Singapore these days?


Even under Covid situations, most couples plan at least 12 months before. And even before they began planning for the wedding, there was already the period of dating and the marriage proposal.


There was intentionality, things don’t happen just by itself. There had to be much deliberated planning and execution.


There was also much focused and perseverance. Throughout everything, other things become less important, the proposal and the wedding takes priority.


Be it time, finances, diet and exercise – everything was geared towards the wedding. Sacrifices were made for the wedding. Sacrifices were made also for what comes after the wedding – honeymoon, home renovations etc.


Did we dread, these sacrifices, no we did not, for we knew it would all be worth it because it was our wedding, the start of our lives together.


Since as believers we form the church that will be the bride of Christ at His 2nd coming, could our earthly wedding preparation give us a clue to how we should live in the here and now?


I’ve added in the sermon title, authentic living and this is to contrast with the hypocrisy that is mentioned twice in our passage today.


12:1 says, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. And in v56 Jesus says, You hypocrites, you know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?


So may our passage this morning encourage and equip, us to live authentic lives in the light of the marriage supper of the Lamb.


Appropriate Fear (12:1-12)

Fear is a normal human reaction. And we know that healthy fear keeps us from doing many dangerous and stupid things. Yet, we also know that unhealthy fear can paralyze and prevent us from growing as a person.


In the first 12 verses of Luke 12, let’s see what Scripture can teach us about appropriate fear. Let’s being with healthy fear.


Firstly, we should fear the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Why, because it is insidious. It is like leaven or yeast. It is silent, unseen yet deadly. It permeates till it touches every part of the dough. Nothing is untouched by its evil impact.


And we have already understood the terrible opposition of the Pharisees towards Jesus from last week’s sermon. Yet, as Ps Luwin has shared, the Pharisees seem to be the model religious person you would find in the faith community.


The bible instead says they are like white-washed tombs. Clean on the outside but full of death and decay on the inside.


Healthy fear is knowing that God sees what is unseen. God knows what is said in the depth of our hearts, whispered in the privacy of enclosed rooms. And that all this will one day be revealed.


Couples who are married, may this thought also keep us faithful to our spouses especially when no one is looking.


And why are we to fear our all-knowing God? It is because v5 says, he has authority to cast into hell after he has taken earthly life. It means he has the power to determine our eternal destiny.


I submit, we should fear too, Jesus who is able to acknowledge us before the angels of God and we are warned, have a healthy fear especially of the Holy Spirit, who is the one who has opened our eyes to see Christ Jesus.


For if we reject the revealing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are warned, it is eternal damnation.


For those of us who are fearing that we somehow may have committed any sin against the Holy Spirit unintentionality, the fact that you fear is sufficient to know that you have not.


On the other hand, what are we not to fear. We are not to fear those who only can kill the body and after that have nothing more that they can do.


Satan and his kingdom are powerful in this material world, but that is all that their power extends to. As believers, we know that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord.


So, all that evil man can do is to destroy this earthly body. But then, God will bring us to Himself and the bible promises that we will in the future have a glorified body. A foretaste we have witnessed with Jesus after his resurrection.


With Covid and now dengue, we come face to face with mortality. Our mission partners continue to also grapple with forms of persecution. May Scripture encourage us not to be paralyse with unhealthy fear as we face death and dying.

Speaking about persecution, Scripture comforts, when we are brought before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, when we are publicly hauled up to account for our faith. Let us not be fearful of what to say, for we will be guided by the Holy Spirit.


In the context of marriage, there may be a time in the near future, when we as a church will have to weather societal opposition to our conviction that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. May God find us faithful then.


In all seasons, Scripture teaches, God cares intimately for you and for me. God cares for every sparrow that are worth little. How much more would God care for us who are worth more than many sparrows.


God cares intimately because every hair on our heads, God has numbered them. That is the detailed extent of His care for us.


Whatever your struggles today, whether you are married or single, God says, I know what you are going through. He knows each strand of hair that falls even as you comb it.


May the knowledge of our all-powerful and all-knowing God encourage us to fear Him and Him alone. May our reverence for God be shaped by His intimate love for us.


True Wealth (12:13-34)

There is a saying that a true conversion happens when there is a conversion of the wallet. It means that our finances are where our heart’s treasure lies.


Jesus counters (v15), one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Did Jesus have us 21st Century Singaporeans in mind when he said this? For many of us, is this not precisely how we define our lives?


Jesus is confronted by a younger brother who is asking Jesus to side with him on this tussle with his older brother over the inheritance. It seems this younger brother is not getting what he feels, he deserves.


There is nothing new under the sun right? Even today, siblings fight over dividing the estate and even business intellectual property rights – am I the original hawker stall or not?


Jesus takes the opportunity to teach with regards to what is true wealth.

Firstly, true wealth is acknowledgement that God gives everything.


The farmer thought that he was the reason why he had such a plentiful harvest. He felt that his hard work and good fortune enabled his existing barns to be busting with grain.


Yet he forgot that it is God who cause the grain to grow, that enabled the sun, rain and the soil to provide the environment for growth. It is the land of the rich man that produced plentifully. And the land is God’s.


This is starkly highlighted when God steps in and says, tonight your soul is required of you.


God is the giver of all life. He gives us the ability to work and in His providence, He enables our company and industry to be profitable. Even us waking up each day is by His mercies.


Have we not witnessed how a blossoming career is cut short due to a sudden illness or employment curtailed when the industry goes south?


The rich man is a fool for He did not acknowledge that everything comes from God. The Lord gives and the Lord can take away. We will be rich towards God when we acknowledge that everything comes from Him.


And when we acknowledge that everything comes from God, then v33 will follow - sell your possessions and give to the needy.


This is what it means to be rich towards God. You are providing for yourselves moneybags that do not grow old with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.


We are being rich towards God when we are rich towards others, out of what we have received from God.


I submit, Luke 12:33 is the practical outworking of James 1:27.


Jas 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

If this sounds very Mother Teresa like, how about this:


Married couples, most of us have homes. Either we have purchased them or are renting them. Would hospitality be part of authentic living for God?


Some of us have cars, it is a luxury item. Can we fetch others to and from church?

Secondly, a person has true wealth when we are freed from financial worry.


Jesus disciples have left everything to follow Him. They may be living from hand to mouth. Jesus says, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat nor about your body what you will put on.


When we are financially anxious, it consumed all our conscious hours, it leaves us no room to think about the things of God. We become obsessed with self-preservation and self-accumulation.


Worst, Scripture says it shows we are of little faith. It can mean we are either lacking in faith or we have under-developed faith. It’s basically, saying, we don’t trust this God who holds the universe in His hands and who loves us intimately. Would this not insult God who gave His Son to die for us?


So, Jesus uses logic to strengthen our faith. He points us to nature – the birds and the lilies. We are so much more valuable. We have been made in the image of God.

We can’t lengthen our days can we? Let’s acknowledge the example of the rich fool - God can take away our life anytime.


The rich fool and the anxious fellow are on opposite ends of the pole. In God’s economy, the poor will never lack when the rich share.


So, if we (both rich and poor) are alive each morning, let us live out Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


Are we living authentic lives today? We will, when we have a true understanding of wealth. Let’s be rich towards God by seeking His kingdom first and trusting Him to meet all our needs.


Vigilant Stewardship (12:35-48)

When I was in the army, I remember a period of 1 month, where life was a beach. That month, my Officer Commanding, was on secondment for an overseas assignment. With the boss not around, even my Company Sergeant Major took to parking himself in the Mess.


With no government in sight, life was good. We got to miss breakfast, sleep in, not wear proper uniform and even book out of camp early.


My OC actually came back earlier than expected and we would have been in store for a nasty surprised that Monday morning, if not for the fact that someone met him in Orchard Road that prior weekend and alerted us.


Vigilant was not how we acted in that month.


But the expectation of Jesus for all his believers between his first and 2nd coming is vigilance. Lk 12:35 Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning. And be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast …. 38 If he comes in the 2nd watch or in the third and finds them awake, blessed are those servants.


The way we live, shows that many of us think that the coming of the Lord is so far away. Because we seem to only care about our affairs and think that God’s affairs can wait for a future time.


The warning from this passage is that such thinking is foolish. Such thinking does not befit those who want to live authentic lives.


V39 warns us like a thief who breaks in, the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. So we must be ready, we must be vigilant.


Now even if Jesus comes after our lifetime, we still need to be watchful for we don’t know when we will be promoted to glory. Remember the rich fool? Tonight, your soul is required of you.


So, let’s today, have in mind the wedding supper of the Lamb. There you have Jesus and when he meets us, v37 will come alive -


Lk 12:37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.

Not only do we find favor in God’s eyes, we will even have the privilege of Jesus ministering to us.


And with Peter’s interruptions in v41, Jesus now turns to speak to those who are managing servants. Those whom God has given leadership responsibility.


Your vigilance must also be coupled with stewardship. We have been given the responsibilities of Jesus’ household which is the local church. There is an expectation that the flock of God is provided for and protected.


Again, the commendation of v37 is given in v43 – Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.


I used to be in a bad mood every Sunday night. This is because Monday mornings are management meetings. Weekly tracking of financial figures from all the business units.


The yearly budget is broken down into quarters and each quarter into months and weeks. And so, each business unit has to answer for how we have fared against the weekly budget, what we would be expected to hit in the month and how it would contribute to the quarter.


The rationale is that if you track weekly, you know where you are heading and if you are slipping, you can remedy, before it becomes too big a hole.


Management may not do all the groundwork but management is responsible to the Board for ensuring that targets are achieved.


God expects no different from His servant leaders. He will ask us to give an account of how we have treated His flock as His under-shepherds.


We may not have abused them, but have we been mistreating them by not exhorting them to a lifestyle of holiness?


We may not have given them poison but have we left them defenseless by not equipping them to counter false teachings?


We may not have stolen from them, but have our ministries been actually self-serving?


Jesus warns, practice vigilant stewardship because v47 applies – that servant who knew his masters’ will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.


Accountability will happen when Jesus comes again. At the marriage supper of the Lamb, may we (both servants and servant-leaders) stand before God joyously instead of with trepidation.


Biblical Lenses (12:49-13:9)

We all know of people who are very sincere but who have been proven to be sincerely wrong. So, we graciously say, they meant well. But consequences can be devastating if we understand things wrongly.


So, in this final segment, I would like to submit that Scripture instructs that authentic living means putting on biblical lenses and having a Christ-centred worldview.


Scripture tells us that, yes, Jesus comes to bring peace. Peace with God and peace between fellow believers.


But in v49 to v53, know that allegiance to Jesus will result in animosity between those who are believers and those who reject him.


May I encourage all of us who are 2nd or 3rd generation Christians, go find a Hermonite who is a first generation Christian and listen to their testimony.


Hear from them what it meant for them to be the minority in the family. Hear what it took for them to reject the faith of their parents and to fight for the right to read the bible, to attend church and to live out their faith.


I’m sure it will give you fresh insights to things of the faith, that you have taken for granted.


This is one of the reason also why we should marry believers. Non-believers even if they don’t actively go against the Christian upbringing of the children, will be passively unsupportive of it. Will this then not be significantly detrimental of your children’s faith development?


When Christ comes again, for believers, we look forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19).


But at the same time, we know that at the 2nd coming there will also be a judgement day.


Rev 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it …. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done …. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 20 tells us that the names of those who have not put their faith in Jesus will not be found in this book of life. And the consequence is that they will be thrown into the lake of fire.


So in v54 to 56, Jesus is saying to the audience, you are able to tell the weather. How come you cannot perceive the spiritual weather? Jesus the Son of God is in their midst, how come they cannot perceive Him as the Christ, as the Messiah?


Turn with me now to the first 9 verses of chapter 13. Through this parable, Jesus warns them, the nation of Israel is like this fig tree. If they do not bear the fruit of repentance, it will be cut down and thrown into the fire.


But with this warning also comes the joyous news of the patience of the Lord. The fig tree has been barren after 3 years, sufficient time has lapse, but the vinedresser says to the landowner, tarry one more year, please be patient.


V57 to v59 complements this thought. While there is still time, make an effort to settle with your accuser before you reach the judge.


Scripture says, Jesus will come as Judge at his second coming. Now is the time to make every effort to repent and to turn to Jesus. For when the judge pronounces the verdict it will be too late, for then you will have to pay in full, the penalty.

Friends, if you are listening to this sermon and have yet to repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus, may you take heed to the current widow of the Lord’s patience. Now is the appointed time to place your trust in the saving blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God.


Church, because the book of life exist, there is the urgency of evangelism. God has intentionally placed you in your family, school, neighborhood and amongst your friends. He has place you there to be His light.


Authentic living is to put on biblical lenses to interpret our situation. It is to see that the world needs a savior for, without Jesus, they will perish.


Conclusion

All married couples know that if it was hard work to get married, it is even harder work to keep the marriage healthy and thriving.


The intentionality and the focus to stay the course, to be faithful to spouse, to be sacrificially loving and to be joyfully submissive, does not get any easier with the years.


But what a joy it is, not just for the couple but also for the extended loved ones, when a godly married couple celebrate their 25th, 50th or 70th wedding anniversary.


As they celebrate their journey, I submit they display too the relationship between Christ and the Church. They give us a foretaste of what it will be like at the marriage supper of the Lamb.


May that glorious picture of Revelations 19, be the encouragement for all of us who are the church, to live authentically for Jesus today.



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