Parable of the Keeper of the Door – Mark 13:33-37
The owner expects faithfulness on the part of the servants even though he is absent from them.
Parable of the Watchful Owner and the Wise Servant – Matthew 24:42-51
Christ revealed that if people are unfaithful to the stewardship entrusted to them, and if they ignore the signs that will be given of the return of the Lord, they will be kept from the kingdom to be established at His coming.
A concrete truck waited on the street with its barrel turning as a construction crew scurried about tying rebar and checking the forms for the new sidewalk about to be poured. Josh and Emily were standing just out of harm’s way watching the action. Josh was in a particularly unusual mood. He had been giving a lot of thought to being ready for the return of Jesus. He was obsessing on the readiness of everything he saw.
As the concrete truck slowly backed into position for the pour, Josh turned to Emily who was only slightly interested in the construction project. “These guys have to be ready when the truck arrives because once that concrete has been in the truck for ninety minutes, it has to be rejected,” he informed her.
Emily thought that was a strange bit of trivia coming from Josh, but took a look at the work project and made a quick assessment. “These guys look ready,” she said.
Not taking his eyes off of the work, Josh agreed. “Yes they do.”
As one of the workers swung the concrete chute at the back of the truck over the soon-to-be-new sidewalk, the concrete began to flow and Josh and Emily were on their way. As they walked along the sidewalk together, Josh looked out at the blue sky filled with white fluffy clouds. Emily was aware Josh had become fixated on being ready and decided to challenge him.
“Are you ready for rain today?” she asked Josh.
“It’s not going to rain today,” he said.
“How do you know?”
“The weather forecast.”
“Have they ever been wrong?”
“Are you saying I should be ready for rain every day in case the forecasters are wrong?”
“No, I’m saying you should be ready for them to be wrong.”
“I think I’m ready for that,” Josh concluded. “What does this have to do with concrete?”
“I think there’s a lesson in how the concrete workers prepare. We need to prepare and be ready,” Emily said.
“For rain?” Josh asked.
“For rain and for sunshine,” Emily said.
Josh’s obsession over being ready for the return of Jesus was now not only occupying his mind, but had infiltrated into his interaction with Emily. Even though it seemed like a bit of a game to both of them, there was an underlying element of truth that pushed them each toward deeper thought.
Later that day, at the church office, Emily had just completed a phone call when Josh walked in to deliver her a bottle of water. Emily was excited to share some good news with Josh.
“I just got off the phone with Cornerstone Church. They want to have a meeting about having a garage give-away like the one we had here,” Emily told Josh.
“Are you ready for the meeting?” Josh asked.
“They haven’t said when they want to meet yet.”
“But are you ready?”
“I will be.”
“What if they want to meet today?”
“I don’t think they’ll call right back and say now we’re ready,” Emily said with a large dose of skepticism.
“But what if they do?” Josh asked. “What if they realize this is the only day they can have the meeting? Are you ready?”
“No.” Emily said before remembering the mind game they had been playing. “I mean maybe. I could get ready. I know how we put the program together,” she said, covering her tracks.
“Don’t let the concrete harden in the truck, Emily!” Josh warned.
Emily smiled at Josh. “Have you lost your mind?” She asked.
“I just want you to be ready.” Josh said.
Near the end of the day Josh and Emily found themselves on their college campus, sitting on a bench near the busy library with its two story glass walls revealing thousands of books and dozens of students searching their contents. Emily was reading through some notes she had for her next class while Josh was digging his wallet out of his back pocket. After removing a hundred dollar bill, he returned the wallet to his back pocket and stared at Emily for a moment as she studied her notes.
Emily could feel Josh’s gaze and looked up from her notes. At that moment, Josh handed Emily the hundred dollar bill. “This is for you,” he said.
Emily looked at the portrait of Ben Franklin on the bill in front of her for a moment before deciding to take it from Josh. Once in her possession, she looked it over good as though she were inspecting its authenticity.
“Where did this come from?” Emily asked Josh.
“That doesn’t matter. What concerns me is if you’re ready to receive it.”
“I’ve received it. I’m ready for that.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“I don’t know,” Emily said.
“Then you’re not ready. You need to be ready.”
“How can I prepare myself for a random gift?”
“Is it random or is it part of God’s plan?” Josh asked Emily.
Emily smiled at Josh. She looked directly into his eyes. “This is about the concrete, isn’t it?” she said.
“Yes it is,” Josh admitted.
Believing the hundred dollar gift to be a joke, Emily tried to hand it back to Josh, but he put his hands up in protest.
“I can’t take your hundred dollars.” Emily protested.
“It’s not mine, it’s yours. Are you ready for that?” Josh asked.
Emily, still staring into Josh’s eyes, tilted her head to one side to help move the thoughts around in her brain. Then, in a moment of clarity, she boldly took possession of the money.
“Yes! I’m ready!” Emily announced. “I’m going to buy supplies for the food bank!”
“Good!” Josh said with a big smile. “Don’t let the concrete harden in the truck.”
“Not going to happen,” Emily said as she tucked the hundred dollar bill into her purse. “I’m ready!”