Rick Rescorla was a retired U.S. military officer who served as the Vice President of security for Morgan Stanley at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He was known to be a man of strong faith and often drew on his beliefs to guide his actions and decisions. When the first plane struck the North Tower, Rick immediately began evacuating Morgan Stanley's employees in the South Tower. He had prepared extensively for this emergency, conducting numerous drills and exercises. His actions remind us how being prepared to serve can have life-changing consequences when the unexpected arrives.
In preparing us for His unexpected return, Jesus announced the plan to reward those who are ready for His unpredictable arrival:
“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. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Luke 12:35–40.
Jesus knows our nature to become complacent and employs the ancient context of a master and servant relationship to make His point. When Jesus returns to earth, He plans to reward those ready for His return with a stunning role reversal.
In this plan, the master demotes Himself, assumes the role of servant, adjusts his clothes for service, has the servants recline at the table, and waits on them. Imagine meeting Jesus, our King and Savior, and Him preparing a banquet and attending to your needs. No impersonal trophy, but attentive, loving service for a life well-served.
What does readiness look like in Jesus’ eyes? Should we fortify our homes and accumulate reserve stocks? Build life routines to fortify against the influence of people who aren’t like us? Move to the safest neighborhoods?
No, Jesus says that readiness for His return involves steps to prepare ourselves for serving, especially to those who aren’t like us.
There is an emphasis in Jesus’ teaching when He says to keep “your lamps burning,” which conveys an expectation to remain ready without concern for how others prepare. Therefore we must resist the temptation to settle into a life of comfort by continually evaluating the status of our light, trimming and cleaning as necessary to maximize illumination to the world around us.
Rather than organizing our spiritual lives to strengthen morals and rally relationships to keep the American Dream from crashing, followers of Jesus remain ready by prioritizing Jesus' kingdom and its flourishing.
Shifting from inward to outward readiness involves pursuing Christ and loving our neighbors while every other facet of life comes into a supporting role. We make room in our schedules for the love of neighbors and strangers first and have a margin in our budgets to be generous, knowing that our Lord will generously provide for our needs.
Jesus says it will be good for those who are found ready, even if He comes when no one expects. In the parable of the talents (See Matthew 25:14-28), those who invested their master’s resources were given more. But the man paralyzed by selfish fear hid his talent, losing what he had and harsh judgment from the generous master. If our spiritual readiness involves only moral insulation from the world, what will our reward be?
Rick Rescorla reportedly sang hymns to help calm and comfort the people he was evacuating. His preparation, quick thinking, and decisive actions saved nearly 2,700 lives, and he continued to evacuate people until perishing when the South Tower collapsed.
By God’s grace, Rick Rescorla was ready when the call to serve came. May we prepare and practice consistent service now so that we, too, can be ready for Jesus' unexpected return.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for making a way for me to know you through Jesus. Empower me to prepare for Christ’s return by shifting my passion toward the building of your kingdom instead of mine. Teach me to wisely invest time, skills, and treasure so that others can receive your blessings through me. Amen.
1. Have you readied yourself for Jesus’ return by receiving the gift of forgiveness for your sins against a Holy God? If not, what is holding you back?
2. In what ways is the Holy Spirit leading you to ready yourself for His return, regardless of how those around you are preparing?
3. Who in your areas of influence does the Father want to use you as an instrument of loving, humble service?
1. Be Ready for Service
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. Luke 12:35-36
2. Receive God’s Reward
It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. Luke 12:37-38