Interpret the Present Time

Wrapping up Luke 12 this morning. Don’t know that I’ve ever read these past few daily readings with such an awareness of their connectedness (that’s one of the dangers of parsed out, daily readings). But I’m thinking the Spirit has intended for me to see something of the progression of thought through this teaching sequence of Jesus.

Yesterday, the emphasis was on those blessed servants whose head was in the game when the Master returns. Those who were awake. Those who were faithfully occupied with the Master’s work. Who did not see the Master’s delay as reason to eat, drink, and be merry. But, knowing that the Master would “come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does now know” (12:46a), the blessed servant labored diligently knowing he would give an account for what had been entrusted to him (12:48b).

And this morning Jesus deals a bit with the Master’s coming and the need to interpret the present time.

[Jesus] also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 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?”

(Luke 12:54-56 ESV)

Jesus told the story of the rich fool to the crowd to warn them about being caught up in the material and temporal. He then turned to His disciples to talk of ravens and lilies and the propensity for even needful things to distract from seeking first the greater things. Exhorting the twelve toward wakeful faithfulness in anticipation of one day giving an account to the Master. And then, today, He turns again to the crowd and talks about the weather.

They were bright enough that when they saw clouds rising in the west, from over the Mediterranean, they knew that rain was coming. Cared enough to take note of southerly winds blowing to prepare for a soon-coming heat wave. But have the Son of God in their midst — the promised Messiah . . . teaching as no one had ever taught . . . performing signs and wonders . . . healing and casting out demons . . . doing works obviously sourced in the divine — and they were clueless. Adept at interpreting “earth and sky”, they were oblivious when it came to interpreting the present time.

And you have to think, given Jesus’s hard, “hypocrite” rebuke, it wasn’t because of their inability to pick up on such things, but because of their unwillingness. Not because they weren’t able to have eyes to see, but because they preferred to wear a blindfold when it came to signs of the time.

Jesus was in their midst, but they preferred to continue to live for themselves. The kingdom of heaven had come, but they were content to pursue the ways of the world. True righteousness for eternity was their’s for the receiving, but instead they opted “to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25b KJV). It’s not that they couldn’t interpret the present time, it’s that they wouldn’t. For to do so would impact barns and such.

I’ve had more than a few people ask me over the past few months if I think the events of our unprecedented 2020 are signs that Jesus is coming back soon. And my answer, not to be trite or dismissive, has quickly been, “Of course!” Because I believe His return is imminent. But what “soon” is, I have no idea — for “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2Pet. 3:8).

But how do we not look at what’s happening in our world and believe God’s doing something big? Time to wake up. Time to put overflowing barns into perspective. Time to acknowledge God’s faithfulness in putting food on the table, clothes on our back, and to focus our attention on laying up treasure in heaven. Time to stay alert. Remain focused. To keep on stewarding the time, talents, and treasures He has given us.

Could Jesus come back tomorrow? I’m thinkin’. Could tomorrow be a long, long ways away when the turbulence of 2020 is but a few paragraphs in a history book? Could be. Does that change my focus and priorities for today? Shouldn’t.

Seek first the kingdom. Be ready for the Master’s return. Be awake when He comes.

” . . . for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

(Luke 12:40 ESV)

Lord, give us eyes to see and hears to hear so that we are able to interpret the present time.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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