Intro and background
Luke has just presented to us a very important attitude all believers must have when living in this world in light of the fact that God has been preparing the world for Jesus' return. Jesus will come again we don't know when but Scripture teaches it will happen in a blink of an eye. As we looked at Luke's recorded account of our Lord's words on this subject of the consummation of all things. We learned last week that as we look at the world and as we look at history we should recognize not so much physical signs of Jesus' return but the spiritual signs of His return. It has not yet happened but it will happen. The physical events that have taken place are on a spiritual level of God bringing in the consummation, these events are bringing about His purging of the world of sin and reconstructing all things to perfection the way they were originally created.
We need to recognize this truth and we also need to recognize that it is truth which comes straight from the mouth of God. We have His truth in written form before us today in His Scripture. He has preserved for us His Word so we can know Him and know His character know what He has done and what He is doing and what He will do. We can rely on God and we can rely on His word. Even when everything around us seems to be failing and falling apart one thing is for sure God will never leave or forsake us and we can always find peace and comfort in His Word.
Now that Jesus has provided deep truth of what will happen in this world, now Jesus turns to practical instruction on how we are to live in light of this truth and in light of knowing what the future brings.
We are to live with watchful anticipation.
We are continuing our study of the Gospel of Luke this morning and we will be looking at Luke 21:34-38, Luke 21:34-38.
“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.
Jesus begins His practical instruction with a simple imperative or instruction, 'be on guard.' Here is a command from Jesus, which is a very simple command and an appropriate one after such heavy instruction on what God has planned for their future and even ours. Now Jesus instructs His disciples about how to live in this crazy world and He opens this instruction with telling them they must be on guard.
This command in and of itself is meaningless without a what, and how. What are we to Gaurd and How do we do this? Let's frist like at the What are we to Gaurd? The answer is our Hearts, we are to Gaurd our Hearts
Look with me at the rest of verse 34, Jesus continues and says "so that your heart will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap."
Jesus now provides the reason for the imperative, I am to be on guard, 'so that my heart will not be weighted down.' Jesus is telling me exactly what He wants me to guard, and it is the most important and valuable ogran to guard is the heart. I am not even talking from a physical stand point it is the most important and valuable from a spiritual standpoint. My heart, the seat of emotions and from a spiritual standpoint what drives a person in this life needs to be guarded.
Here is a definition of the Greek word Kardia which is heart and the entire definition is summed up with this sentence.
So you see the heart is important to God it is where the religous life is rooted and if it is rooted in the heart than what should come from it is godly conduct. If the heart is the centre in man to which God turns and if it is where religious or spiritual life comes from and it is what leads us in moral conduct it makes sense to keep our hearts gaurded.
The heart and the head are many times used interchangably by Christians. Paul teaches the Roman church in
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
There is an intellectual component to this renewing the mind, which is allowing your thoughts to be changed, transformed. The thing is you can not only allow it to change the mind, the mind has to work in conjuction with the heart. Just because it makes sense in the mind doesn't mean you will follow it and if you are not following it than it is not in the heart. A true renewing of the mind is having your mind transformed and then allowing it to be inbedded into your heart so the way you think and the way you live are consistant.
An interesting observation about this verse is Paul and Jesus are both hitting on the root of the Christian's external behavior being linked to their internal affirmation.
Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp explain the heart quite well, they say this:
Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2012).
If the heart then is the steering wheel of every human being and if we are shaped and controlled by what we desire if makes perfect sense that Jesus tells His disciples, including us here today to "guard your heart." This means we have to be careful what we put into our heart. As the Proverb teaches us:
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
What we are to gaurd is our heart and Jesus tells us what to gaurd it from. We need to gaurd it from being weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life.
Jesus provides specifically what it is that weighs down the heart. It is interesting because He says dissipation and drunkeness, these two words go together. Dissipation is the outcome of drunkeness or the feeling after you have been drunk. It is the nausea and dizziness felt from a night of drunkenness. It seems strange Jesus would place these words together and Luke is the only writer in Scripture who uses the word dissipation in its Greek form. There is a sense of one coming after the other. Using these two words together the way Jesus does here brings out power and emphases in respect to the whole of what alcohol can do to someone.
Alcohol is thought of by most people as a means of escaping from the problems of this world. That is a main reason why people get drunk. Now the outcome of being drunk is the feeling of nausea and dizziness which is usually felt the next day. This way of escape as many believe it is is actually a trap. People become sucked into this feeling thinking that their fleeting moment of drunkenness will bring them pleasure but the pleasure is always followed by a heaviness that actually drives people farther away from God.
Dissipation and drunkenness does more to you than just causing a physical illness in your mind and body, it will also affect your spiritual life as well. The spiritual life is what God is concerned with. He is more concerned with what is on the inside and that you keep your heart focused on Him and on His ways at all times. This is not an issue about drinking being good or bad it is an issue about who you rely upon. Do you rely upon the things of this world to bring you an escape and pleasure or do you rely on God and His promises to bring about in you a spiritual escape and pleasure that will surpass anything this world has to offer no matter how enjoyable it might be. You have to find your satisifaction in God and His promises not in the lies of this world.
The heart needs to be guarded from this kind of thinking because it can seriously deter a persons spiritual walk. You have to keep in mind there are spiritual forces at work in this world to turn your attention away from God, and Jesus. Just because you know Jesus as Lord and Savior and you believe in the sealing of the Holy Spirit and are assured of the fact you will never lose your salvation you still have to keep to understand Satan tries to cause believers to stumble and fall. One of the ways he does this is by utilizing things in this world that can inhibit your focus on God and Jesus, ie drunkenness.
Jesus also mentions the worries of life. This can be any thing from worrying about money issue to worrying about what people will think of you. Any worry a person has in life. Jesus wants me to be on guard against these worries against these things. The worries of this world are the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. It is the desire for things like money, a bigger house a nicer car. In all reality it is looking at your life and thinking to yourself "I am not happy with what I have, I want more and I need more and bigger and I deserve it."
That kind of mentality is wrong and what you are saying when you think you're not happy with what you have is "I am not satisfied with what God has provided me with." Now you are working on your own to try and get the things the world tells you you should have instead of thanking God and being content with what He has blessed you with.
Once we have placed our faith in Jesus and we have allowed our hearts to be brought to life by the Holy Spirit then the lusts of this world should be doen away with. Look at what Paul tells the Ephesian church:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
So we were dead in our sins, our hearts were dead lifeless, we knew only the ways of the world. But God has chosen to bring life into our hearts and now that our hearts have been made alive why would you want to go back and chase after the former ways of the world, that never satisfied you and never will.
It is important He says my heart because He is talking about the things that will take me away from having my heart filled with reliance on Him and His word to bring about joy, peace, patients, and love in you. This can only come from Him and if I am filling it with all these other things and the things of the world than how can I have Him in my heart and how can I be lead by Him and truly serve Him if I am filling my heart with all forms of worldly pleasures.
This is especially true when it comes to His second coming. I believe wholeheartedly that I will not go through the tribulation. I also believe Jesus is coming back like a thief in the night and He will call me home. Guarding your heart keeps you focused not only on Him but also on the fact that He can come suddenly.
He warns His disciples to guard their hearts so that day will not come on them suddenly like a trap. The idea with the trap is it will snatch you quickly and all we know is He is coming back at any second, we don't know times or epochs all we know is He will return. If your hearts are filled with the ways of this world and the lust sand desires of this world when Jesus comes back while you are the midst of trying to satisfy those desires, how will you feel. Do you want to be caught in a worldly way when He comes back.
I can remember when I first came to know the Lord as my Savior I didn't guard my heart. I fell back into some of the foolish things of the world that Jesus saved me from. I can remember one night lying in bed mind completely cloudy from partying, Still there was a moment of clarity, not my own but the Spirit moving in my heart telling me what if you were to stand before the Lord tonight, right this second, how would you feel. Talk about a sobering moment. Spiritually I was far away from God because I wasn't guarding my heart.
We need to gaurd our hearts.
Jesus tells us what we need to Guard and now we will look at how to gaurd it,
Let's look at verse 36, Jesus continues "But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Now Jesus tells them to "keep on the alert." He is emphesising the truth of His earlier intruction of be on guard, now He tells them to keep on the alert. He wants them to be watchful. Make no mistake these phrases are both active, be on guard and be on the alert. They are calling us to be on defense, protect ourselves from the onslaught of the world and its lies.
The way He tells them to be watchful the first line of defense He provides is for us to be in prayer. Within the next twenty four hours Jesus and His disciples will be back on this mountain and Jesus will go into the Garden of Gethsemane and pray fervently that God would take this cup from Him, not His will but the Father's will be done. As He goes into to the garden to pray what does He instruct His disciples to do. Pray. What do they do? Sleep. Jesus wants us to be ever vigilant in prayer. As He tells them here in this verse they are to pray so they may have strength to escape all these things. This doesn't mean to pray to be taken out of this sinful world it means we are in a sinful world and there is always some form of spiritual attack going on and the key to being strengthened is to pray.
They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus turns to prayer because of its crutial impact on our lives and on our relationship with God. In His book "The Hour That Changes the World: A Practical Plan for Personal Prayer" Dick Eastman, says this about prayer:
Prayer is much more then just going and asking God for things like He is some genie at our beck and call. It is a time of communication with our Great Lord and Sovereign Creator. We have to remember who we are and who we are coming to. Of course the only way we can really come to God in prayer is if we know who He is and the only way to know Him is to listen to His word. Being in His Word is God talking to us and being in prayer is us talking to Him. Our prayers should be seasoned with praise, and adoration to God. Affirming who He is and from there it should move you to realizing how worthless you are and seek Him to transform your heart so that you are walking in His ways.
Prayer is about coming into His presence about coming before Him. It is not a formula of bringing God under you will but it is placing yourself under His will. Looking for His power to lead and guide you.
Paul encourages the Philippian church to pray:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
He also tells the Colossian church this:
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
Billy Sunday an 18th century evangelists was once told this:
Does this describe your prayer life, do you take 15 minutes a day to listen and 15 minutes a day to talk and 15 minutes a day to share with others. Do you even take 10 minutes or 5. Guarding our hearts begins with Giving our time to God and that time as well needs to be Gaurded and the way to strengthen our hearts is through prayer.
Now let's take a look at a picture of what this looks like in verses 37-38. Luke provides a summary statement here in writting, Now during the day He was teaching in th etemple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the monut that is called Olivet. And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.
Commentators spend time on the literary style of these two verse, this is the end of Jesus' teaching ministry and how it encapsulates the last few chapters. If all you do is look at the literary form you miss the big picture of what God is saying here. The people were coming to listen to Jesus teach in the temple. At the end of Jesus' discourse on the end times we have a picture of the Savior in the temple and the people longing to be in His presence first thing in the morning. That is the picture of our relationship with Jesus when we Guard our hearts against the ways of the world, and when we come to His word to listen to Him and go to Him in prayer to worship and praise Him.
How well do you guard your heart. Do you allow the world to slip in. Do you seek strength from God through His word and through prayer. If you are not make the time for God so your heart is guarded than you need to cut something out of your life weather it be television, news paper, internet, what it is that takes your attention away from Him and look to Him in stead. And if it is something that you would be ashamed of doing if Jesus called you home in the midst of doing it then cut that out and fill that time with God's Word and prayer instead.