watching in faithfulness

Watching for Jesus to Come Requires Faithfulness

As we watch for Jesus’ return, we are instructed to be faithful to the Lord. This lesson is taught in Luke 12:42-48:

42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 44 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; 46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. been given.

This account is called, “The Parable of the Faithful Servant.” Matthew also records this parable in Matthew 24:45-51. This parable is a story that teaches what will happen to those who are faithfully living up to their responsibility as they wait for the Master’s return (Luke 12:43). At the same time, we learn what will happen to those who are not faithful when he returns (Luke 12: 46-47).

As Jesus told it, the master of a number of servants had to leave his household for an undetermined amount of time. As he plans to make his departure, he puts one of his servants in charge of the other servants. His job is to take care of the day-to-day duties, give the servants their food at the proper time, and prove his faithfulness and wisdom until the master comes back. If the master returns and sees that the servant has done his best to carry out his duties, he will likely be promoted to a higher managerial position. Jesus commends such a person who is like this faithful servant.

But, then, Jesus presents another scenario. In short, the question goes like this: Suppose the servant is NOT faithful when the master is away and the servant proves that he is neither faithful or wise to fulfil the assignment? Even though the servant might appear like the kind of person the master could trust, once the master leaves, the servant reveals his TRUE character. Knowing that the master is no longer there, the servant-in-charge becomes cruel, sly, and intemperate toward the other servants. Calculating that the master will be away for an extended time, the servant physically abuses those he is responsible for. He goes out and lives it up at night, going to bars and restaurants, indulging in the excesses of the world.

In the midst of all this, the master hurries home from his trip and appears suddenly and unexpectedly. He hears how the servant misused his authority and abused his own privileges. Now the servant must answer for what he has done. The master now becomes the judge and executioner of this unfaithful, unwise servant.

Jesus said the master “…will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers,” (Luke 12:46). This statement is thought to be an idiom or figure of speech that is similar to our expression, “skin him alive.” The result is that he would be cut off from the midst of the people he was supposed to serve. This corresponds with Psalm 37 in which the righteous will inherit the land but the wicked will be cut off. The servant who does not live up to his responsibility will be separated, cast out, and cut off from his people. This is HIS reward.

Jesus stated that the servant will be held accountable for his irresponsibility whatever the situation. Whether his wrong doings were intended or not, it didn’t matter. Negligence is no excuse. Ignorance is no excuse. Everyone answers for his deeds and misdeeds. The more you have, the more you have to answer for. Those who are entrusted with a lot will have a greater responsibility, but then the rewards will be greater, too.

The lesson the parable teaches is this: Jesus is the Master who has gone away to heaven. In the meantime, he has put us, his servants, in charge. Our responsibility as his church is to perform the work our Master has assigned us to do. Each one of us is given privileges and duties to care for our fellow servants (Christians) and be an example of Christ to everyone for the sake of the Master. If we are faithful and wise in carrying out our duties successfully, we will be promoted to receive an eternal reward when Jesus the Master returns to us. On the other hand, if we are found unfaithful and unwise when the Master returns, we will be judged and cast into the fiery flames “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” as Jesus says in Matthew 24:51.

In our last two posts concerning the reward and warning of watching for Jesus’ coming, we discussed the parables “The Waiting Servant,” and “The Thief at Night,” plus the parable in this post, “The Faithful Servant” in Luke 12. These three parables illustrate how we urgently need to watch for the return of Jesus and be ready for him to come at any time. It’s like this story:

Once there was a traveler who chanced upon a beautiful villa situated on the shores of a beautiful lake in Switzerland far from the beaten track of tourists. The traveler knocked at the garden gate and an old caretaker approached. He slowly and deliberately took out his key to unfasten the lock, swung open the heavy, iron gate, and invited the traveler to enter. The old man seemed glad to see him and showed him around the wonderful garden.
“How long have you been here?” the traveler asked.
“Twenty-four years,” came the reply.
“And how long has your master been here meanwhile?”
The old caretaker answered, “Four times.”
“When was he here last?”
“It was twelve years ago.”
The traveler wondered, “Does he write often?”
“Nope, never once.”
“Well, then, how do you get paid for your services? Who pays you?”
With calmness, the old man answered, “His agent in the Mainland provides it.”
“Well, does HE come here often?”
“No, he has never BEEN here, before.”
By now, the traveler is REALLY curious. “Who DOES come here, then?”
The caretaker said, “I am almost always alone. It is very, very seldom that even a stranger comes.”
As the traveler looked out over the grounds, he remarked, “Yet you have the garden in such perfect order, everything flourishing, as if you were expecting your master’s coming tomorrow.”
Looking straight at him, the old caretaker replied, “No, sir. I’m working as if he were coming today.” (Knight’s Master Book of New Illustrations)

This is what it means to watch, for Jesus our Master will come at an hour when he is least expected. Expect him to come by being faithful to him everyday. And watch as if today is the very day he is coming.

Good News to You,
Pastor Michael

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