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Knock, Knock

Luke 12:32-40

The Rev. Jon Roberts

7 August


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he[a] would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.”


God as Architect/Builder/Geometer/Craftsman, Frontispiece 1250

Knock, knock. (Who's there?) Tank. (Tank who?) You're welcome!
Knock, knock. (Who's there?) Canoe. (Canoe who?) Canoe gives me something to eat.
Knock, Knock. (“Who's there?”) Boo. (“Boo who?”) Why are you crying?
Knock, Knock. (Who's there?) Orange. (Orange Who?) Orange you glad this is my last knock, knock joke?
If a preacher continues to only say knock, knock jokes, in his sermon, he is certainly looking for trouble and you know what they say…
If you keep looking for trouble, eventually it will find you.

What trouble have we found knocking on the door today in our Gospel?[1] Jesus uses three examples for us to consider, of a Father and his children; a Master and his slaves; a thief and his prey. The first are grateful. The second are caught off guard and the last is crying.

The Father tells his children that he finds good pleasure in giving them the Kingdom. What is that exactly? Is it property? Will we own land, and will we have servants one day? Jesus told them not to be afraid to sell their possessions. Then he tells them to make a purse that will not wear out. If we sell all our possessions, give alms to the church, the poor, why do we need a purse? There must be something other than money to put in this purse; something more valuable. Bitcoin. Jesus must be talking about Bitcoin, but then they didn’t have that back then. Maybe instead of shekels they were promissory notes, like stocks, to which they could redeem one day. Then again, that would be considered a possession and therefore we would have to sell it. What is something that is not a possession but something we can keep?
In the legal world there are three concepts that relate to this account. There is possession, the right of possession and ownership. They are not all the same but are all important when we hear Jesus saying, “You must sell your possessions” to his disciples. This is important in criminal cases today where one may be in possession of drugs, let’s say. A possession is something that must have control and intent and may not be something you own. It may be something somebody else owns, but you are granted the privilege to possess it. Here is a good example. You may possess the hymnal in front of you. It is in your hands, but the church bought it. The church is letting you possess it for the purpose of corporate worship. Then again, you are the church, therefore you have possession, the right of possession and ownership, all rolled up into one. Things we typically think of when it comes to possessions are money, property (i.e... House, car, boat, collector’s items, etc.), and possibly children and even certain types of servants who are not employees. You have been given the right to possess for good intentions. Jesus tells them to sell all these things, whether they are in their possession, they have the right to possess them or they outright own them.

It is most interesting that Jesus gives these examples and moreso how he intertwines in the first. Again, the purses hold what is held in the kingdom. Purses are the symbolic awareness of keepsake, but the things therein cannot be stolen nor consumed by moth. Look at the following two examples. When he tells them they are to be like the servants expecting a wedding banquet and keep their lamps lit, what would happen today if we did that on our back porch? Moths from all over would fly and flitter around and in days like this, they may feast and consume any perishables laying around. So, Jesus can’t be talking about storing up food. Moths will consume that.

The second example is clear. You don’t know when the thief is going to pay you a visit in the middle of the night or in broad daylight when you might be away. Regardless, what the father gives you, that thief cannot steal it. In each of these two examples, the possessions of food or money are clearly not the contents of what goes into the purse. In each of these examples, clearly Jesus is like the master and like the thief who comes unannounced. You must be ready because, like the master he will knock.
In the Revelation to John, his beloved disciple, we hear the messiah say, “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock.”[2] In St. Matthew’s account we hear Jesus say, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord! will enter the kingdom.”[3] At what hour will he come? Is it the moment we are prepared or the moment we are not? Is it the time of our death or is it a moment in our life that matters most? Which is it? The Lord giveth or the Lord who taketh away![4] It is both.

What treasure are you storing? Look at what you have. Discern what you have control and what you have intent as possessions. Are you still angry at someone who took something from you? Who criticized you, scorned or ridiculed you where you felt like a victim? There are no victims allowed in heaven, only victors. There are no debts in heaven, only forgiveness. What you own here on earth, you must own up to in heaven. I believe Jesus gave us the main clue to the answer to all our questions, in the beginning of the Gospel when he simply said, “Do not be afraid little flock.” If you want to know what possessions you are keeping, what has control and intent over your life simply look at what you cannot bear to lose. Both the master and the thief, know what you are afraid of losing and they will come looking for you. It is not that they find joy in making you panic, making you fear, making you choose one or the other.

If you are afraid of losing something, that is what has possession over you. Sell it means, don’t let its own you.

It is the Father’s good pleasure to possess you, to love you, and to give you the kingdom. That can only be understood when you see how great God is, when he gave all that He had, and sent His Son Jesus into the world. There was great control and intent to go and find, to seize what He created so that we, His blessed and most loved possessions would return to Him by our own volition. God sees us as His greatest treasure. He knocks at our door. He is looking for us and eventually He will find us ready. Are we thankful, do we offer Him some food, or are we crying? He wants us to spend time with Him in this kingdom He has made for us.

Knock, knock. (“Who's there?”) Treasure. (“Treasure who?”) Treasure the One who loves you and is knocking at your door.

[1] Luke 12:32-40
[2] Revelation 3:20
[3] Matthew 7:21
[4] Job 1:21

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