"Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves." (Luke 12: 35-38 NASB)
Our Waiting Well series began a with a post on serving faithfully, followed by keeping our lamps lit, waiting for the bridegroom to return from the marriage feast, and our response to His knock. Yesterday, we looked at the response of Christ to us when we open the door to His knock. (Click on the link to read the earlier posts.)
Today, we turn to the issue of the watch. To understand the "watch", we need to understand the Jewish method of keeping time. The day was twelve hours long. (John 11:9) The first hour of the day began at 6 am, which is basically at sunrise. Ex - 2:00 pm (our time) is the eighth hour.
The night was also considered to be twelve hours, and began at 6 pm. It was divided into four three-hour watches. (These are the watches during which a watchman, guarding the city by watching for invaders, would be on the lookout.)
The first watch is 6pm-9pm.
The second watch is 9pm-12 pm.
The third watch is 12 midnight to 3 am.
The fourth watch is 3 am to 6 am.
In today's focus scripture, Jesus tells His disciples, "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so (dressed and waiting), blessed are those slaves." Whether it is at our death or at the time of His second coming, we are to be ready and waiting.
Servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding party might reasonably expect him to return in the first watch, but second watch would be late, especially in a time without electric lights. The third watch would be very late for a returning master. A faithful waiting servant, however, would still be ready to serve when the master returns, no matter the hour.
We, too, are to be ready to serve, no matter how long our Lord delays. No matter our age. No matter how much service we have given before. You might not have noticed, but there is a blessing for those who are still up, ready to serve, at the late hour. "Blessed are those slaves."
When we continue to serve Christ, even into the second and third watch of our lives, He takes note. He blesses. When we continue to serve Christ in a dark and frightening world, despite His delayed return, He takes note. He blesses.
It is easy to serve so long, with so little recognition, that we begin to think no one notices. No one cares about our service. Take heart. Our Lord notices. He cares.
Press on. Your service is not in vain. It has not been overlooked.
Our Father, help me to endure, to persevere, in righteousness and good works, no matter how dark the night around me. In Jesus' name, Amen.