“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.”
Let me begin this reflection by asking you a question: Do you like waiting? Personally, I hate to wait especially because I tend to be a person of punctuality. I would rather arrive at an appointment half an hour early than half a minute late, and it upsets me to be kept waiting. I dare say you are the same.
If you are late leaving for a party and your wife is still dressing up, you get annoyed. Or if you have dinner laid out on the table and your husband still hasn’t returned from work you get annoyed. Or if you are at the airport and the flight has been delayed. Or if you are delayed being served at a restaurant. I could give you a hundred examples, but I think you get the idea. We don’t like waiting.
We don’t have much patience when it comes to Jesus, either, which is why after 2,000 years of waiting for him to show up again, most of us have given up on his return — and given into lives of sinfulness. This is a dangerous game we play because we play with our eternal destiny. We need to wait, and we can take some advice — and hope — from this passage. In it, Jesus spells out three elements involved in waiting: preparation, maintenance, and expectation.
First, Jesus tells us to gird our loins. That’s preparation. Middle Easterners have long flowing robes, as you may know. But when engaged in serious work, they would hitch them up to their waists and tie them. Jesus then tells us to light our lamps. That’s maintenance. The lamps used in those times were small clay lamps. To keep them burning required both effort and resources. They had to be refilled periodically with olive oil, the wicks trimmed occasionally, and care had to be taken they didn’t blow out.
Finally, Jesus tells us to wait for our master’s return. This is expectation. The actual translation is “to wait for” which implies not just a dutiful waiting, but an eager anticipation of something to come. Remember the master has gone to a wedding and is likely to return in a joyful and festive mood. That would translate as something good for the servant who was ready for him, and that is what Jesus finally promises: blessed are these servants.
So let us eagerly await the return of the master and the best way to do so is live each day as though he is going to walk through the door before it is over.