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Slaves Who Wait
07/17/2011
Scripture: Luke 12:37; Luke 1:38; Luke 1:46-47; Rom...
Track 5 of 8 in the Slaves of Christ series
Running time: 57 minutes, 04 seconds.
A good slave knew how to wait. In the ancient world as well as the world of the Americas, the picture of a solitary slave waiting noiselessly for the coming of the master is a familiar one.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Slaves Who Wait

By nature, do you consider yourself a patient person? How are you at the task of waiting? Do you like to wait? How are you when you are in a hurry and you have to wait?

Waiting, this is something that most people don’t like to do but it is a reality. For many Americans waiting is a waste of time. Somehow we need to be more efficient and use that time we wait for productive use. Several surveys and studies have been made on this topic and it is estimated that on average, person in America spends about 45-60 minutes a day just waiting. Over the course of the normal life, that equates to about five years of your life…waiting, doing nothing.

I learned something very valuable while in Sweden, there is value in waiting and just slowing down. In fact, if we would use the time we wait a day to just change our focus and say a prayer during those times we wait, even if the waiting is just a short time, we would spend at least one hour a day in prayer and not have to take more time out of our day.

But that is not how Americans are these days. For some reason there are more Americans today who are trying to squeeze every possible second out of the day to do something. If technology can gain more time, then that time will be filled by doing something. We live in a society today that is not comfortable with just enjoying the day God gives us. We too often try to find satisfaction in the fast pace in life and we teach the same principles to our children by cramming so much in their lives to do other than to just be kids and use their own imaginations.

Someone describe for me what waiting is. How would you define waiting?

Definitions:
to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens
to be available or in readiness.
to continue as one is in expectation.
to perform the duties of an attendant or servant.

What I find fascinating about these definitions, all of them remind me of some of Jesus’ parables and some of them are directly related to slavery.

Luke 12:37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.

A good slave knew how to wait. In the ancient world as well as the world of the Americas, the picture of a solitary slave waiting noiselessly for the coming of the master is a familiar one. The Roman writer Seneca bemoans the state of the slave who must stand in one place all night. He could expect to be slapped if he even coughed. All night long they must stand about, hungry and dumb.

The question remains open regarding just how many men and women were expectantly waiting for the Messiah when he finally arrived somewhere between 2-4 BC.

From what we studied about the time of Jesus birth, how any were expecting the Messiah to come? Why?

What is even more important to know, what kind of Messiah were they looking for?
What weren’t they looking for or expecting?

In the ancient world, waiting was as an act of faith. Waiting for God to fulfill his promises, waiting for the coming of the Messiah all were considered an act of faith. In the opening chapters of the Gospels at least three people expressed their faith by waiting for God to fulfill the promises he had made in the Torah. They were waiting for a fulfiller, not a destroyer; a redeemer, not a slayer of enemies; one who was a keeper of promises. These three were alert and expectant. And each one found their common identity in slavery.

Mary, the slave of the Master

Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

At this point in Mary’s decision to be the servant (slave) of her master, how much does she know of what is going on? What questions have to be going through her mind? What questions would be going through your mind?

Of all the things she does not know, there is one she is totally clear about, she knows her true reality, her master will lead her through the trials to come. It is not her decisions that count, it is God’s alone.

Over the centuries different translations have tried to soften the intensity of the radical commitment this teenage girl made. The word Luke uses her for Mary’s use of servant is the feminine form of the word slave. Not a bond slave but a slave. Some versions will use servant or handmaiden, but Luke is explicit that Mary committed to be a slave to God in every sense. She is surrendering all her rights, all her hopes and dreams and especially her body to be used by God to bring Jesus into the world.

Here is what is interesting; Fredrick Douglas once noted that white slavers pointed to the singing of the slaves as evidence that the sufferings of the black African slave was not that bad. Douglas countered saying that they sang because they suffered the most. A slave singing is a common mark or trait of slaves in suffering. I find it deeply revealing that one the first thing Mary does after committing her life as a slave to God is, she starts to sing. She sings:

Luke 1:46-47 “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

Her song is called by the church “The Magnificat”. Her song is a song of praise, a song of worship for Mary is celebrating the “worth” of God, of her master. Only a slave who has renounced ownership of her body can truly worship. Paul will later use this same theme and apply it to our lives in Romans.

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

So how would you describe what spiritual worship is? How does this spiritual worship lead us to do? How is it displayed? What does it accomplish?

Here is a very important point for all of us to consider and accept, to become a slave of Christ means to be called to an impossible demand. To become obedient to his call always means becoming a slave to the impossible. To Mary, God called her to have a son as a virgin. To Abraham and Sara, they were to make a son at the ages of almost 100 years old. Today, he calls us to do the impossible as well. We are to love our enemies, etc. knowing that the impossibility of the tasks will always drive us back to Him, our Master for help.

Was Mary perfect?

May believe she was perfect but I believe she was the perfect mother for Jesus because of her self-understanding as a slave to the Master. This understanding she would imprint onto her son so when he grew up, his attitude and life also followed the same as hers. Mary probably had a major impact on his heart and life and probably sang the same song to Jesus as he was little that she sang to Elizabeth many years earlier. Who knows, maybe when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples this was something he saw his mother do thousands of times before.

Simeon

Luke 2:29 Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant (slave) in peace.

Simeon plays an important part in the scriptures. Many times we read about Simeon when he met Jesus the baby for the first time. But little do we realize that Simeon is the bridge from the Old Covenant to the New. In his world, having faith was expressed by waiting for God to act on his promises. But in the New Covenant, faith would be expressed by following God.

Simeon was promised by God that he would not die until he actually saw the Messiah come into the world. Faithfully, he waited for the promise to be fulfilled. When Jesus was presented for circumcision, Simeon was there and he realized that the baby Jesus was the Messiah and the promise he had waited for was realized. Like Mary before, Simeon breaks out in song. How he refers to himself is similar to other references in scripture relating to slaves. Simeon didn’t refer to himself as a servant, but as a slave.

Simeon gives to Mary 2 pieces of information about her child:

Luke 2:34-35 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Luke doesn’t record the response of Mary to these two revelations but Luke leaves us with Mary and Simeon together in their bonds as slaves to the same Master. The Old man who is about ready to die and the young girl ready to start living as a mother and between them both Jesus who will be their savior and himself a slave to God’s will. He will set the world free by his slavery to God.

John the Baptist

Mark 1:7 “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

If Simeon stands on one side of the bridge between the Old and New Testaments, then John the Baptist certainly is on the other side. Simeon expressed his faith through waiting, John showed his faith by telling his own followers to follow Jesus instead.

How famous or popular was John during the height of his ministry? What would the difficulties be? Would there be any rivalries between John and Jesus?

John 4:1-3 The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

It is difficult to determine just how popular John’s ministry was. Initially it was larger than Jesus’. But there was pressure being applied to both ministries by the Pharisees in terms of who was more popular and when it was recognized that Jesus ministry was baptizing more than John’s, Jesus deliberately moved to a different area. Jesus wanted nothing to do with ministry competition.

How much competition goes on today between church ministries and preachers? Why does this happen? Where is all of this coming from? Does this cause the church to grow?

John himself at least three times tries to separate himself from any thought that he was the messiah. When others pressed him to give an answer, he would refer to the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 40:3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.

We have to keep the relationship in perspective between Jesus and John. They were cousins and most likely they were childhood friends. Several times a year they would be together when everyone traveled to the Jewish festivals. Family met with family so John and Jesus probably grew up together. They were not strangers. When John realized his role as the voice for Jesus is unknown or how he cane to that realization but both were dedicated to his ministry.

When it was time for Jesus to be baptized, He came to John. It is very interesting to listen to the conversation between the two and why they both went though the motion. In Mark’s Gospel John says:

Matthew 3:13-15 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

Here is a conversation between 2 slaves concerning their master. Both acts are the acts of salves. Jesus, as a slave is there to be baptized because the master calls for it. John as a slave to Jesus consents because that is what he is to do.

In the church today Satan has worked a very tangled web concerning the command to be baptized. There is such a dispute within the church over this whole issue. Between John and Jesus, there is no dispute nor is there any debate for reasoning on why to perform the act. Both are slaves and both obey because the master commanded them to.

Where in scripture does it ever explain the reasoning or give the defense for baptism? We see a lot taught and said about what baptism does but never do we actually see a debate over if baptism was necessary or not as though we had the right to reason with the master over his command. No slave ever had that thought process. They acted only at the pleasure of the master and they did everything the master instructed. They obeyed because of the master.

In the Bible the Holy Spirit reveals the benefits of baptism and why it is important but there is never the option not to do it in order to become a disciple. I believe the obedience is the first test of our slavery. We are commanded to do something that really doesn’t make sense or has a reason. We are just commanded to do it. If we can’t submit to such an easy act, how will be be slaves to the impossible things?