In the ancient near East, if you heard the phrase “mud-digger,” it did not mean a souped-up pickup or jeep with monster tires for going muddin’. ‘Mud-digger’ meant: common thief, or criminal, or low-life.
Most people built their little houses out of mud bricks. In the hot summer, you usually slept in a tent on the roof. In the dark of night, a thief could dig through the mud wall of your home while you slept above. Then the mud-digger would make off with your valuables. In the morning, you would wake up and go down inside to make breakfast—only to discover that the low-life mud-digger had stolen your pots!
Ticked! Ticked off! If only I had known, I would have waited up for him. I would have crouched in the shadows in the house. When the mud-digger came crawling in, ready to grab my stuff, I would have thwapped that punk! Thwapped him cold and took him to the magistrate!
So, with His little parable, the Lord Jesus appealed to sentiments like these. If the master had known at what hour of night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake. Darn right I would have! Rather than have some mud-digger make off with my lamps and blankets and camel harness. Daggone right I would have stayed awake! Then I would still have my wine and my figs.
Now, the Son of Man will not come to steal our sweaters and laptops and iPads, or the ham hocks in the freezer. It’s actually much more serious than that, when we interpret this parable. The Son of Man will come, tearing a huge hole in the wall of the world, and He will clear away absolutely every delusion from the face of the earth. He will arrive at one unknown, precise moment. The sky will split asunder, and every last iota of B period S period will be incinerated, vaporized by the Lord’s fiery gaze. Every bit of nonsense will crumble in dust. Then all the foolishness of the world will blow away in a great wind that will thunder across the mountains and plains.
What will remain standing then? What do I have in me that this Mud-Digger of infinite truth and power will leave whole? After He has removed everything evil and untrue from His creation, what part of me will remain?
That, dear brothers and sisters, is the $10,000 question for this holiday season.
When He comes to beset me, this particular Thief will steal everything shallow and lame that lingers in the fortress of my soul. He will leave only the honest part–only the humble part. Assuming I want to be ready, like the householder we imagined—assuming I want to be ready for Him when He comes, where should I be crouching? I don’t want to get completely fleeced and left with nothing to my name when the truth of all things is revealed. So where should I crouch to prepare myself and prevent that?
I think maybe I had better crouch down in prayer. I think I had better crouch down in loving tenderness toward my fellow man. I think I had better crouch down in repentance for my sins. I think I had better go to Confession as soon as possible.
That way, when the Thief of blistering holiness invades my home, I won’t be under any misconceptions about who really owns everything. The truth is, we are just renting; we are tenants. The midnight Thief actually owns the house.
When He comes, if I am ready and waiting for Him, I will greet Him with a smile. Welcome to what belongs to You, Master! Welcome to Your house! Everything here belongs to You by right.
When baby Jesus comes on Christmas to ravish the face of the earth with His purity, let’s greet Him like that. Lord, behold! Behold my car, my house, my clothes, my record collection, my fishing tackle, my AppleTV… behold, it all belongs to You! Dispose of it as You will. Behold, my very body—my knees, legs, arms, teeth, etc—all Yours. I am Yours, Lord Jesus. My only happiness is the fulfillment of Your will.
That’s the way to handle this particular kind of home invasion, this particular kind of burglary. The Mud-Digger of Christmas, actually, turns out–He’s our friend. He is terrifying, because He tolerates no dishonesty. But that’s because He loves the people we really are meant to be, the people He made us to be.
We do not know when exactly He will show up in fiery glory. So let’s be ready for Him to come tonight. There is no harm in being ready for Him to come right now, even if He delay another thousand years. No harm in being ready. Just means that tomorrow is another day, if He doesn’t come today.
But if I delay—if I delay in crouching down in prayer to prepare myself; if I delay in going to Confession and admitting that I am a miserable sinner, full of nonsense; if I loll around lazily on the roof, thinking: He’s slow. This Mud-Digger is slow. He may never come. –If I delay just one day in preparing, and He comes tonight? What then?
I could find myself out in the field, or grinding at the mill, or eating, or drinking… and then the Thief comes—and I lose everything.