Luke 12:35–48 (ESV)
35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door 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 dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he 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 hour you do not expect.” 41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant 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 put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
When I was doing youth ministry in California, every year at Easter I would lead a group of students and adults to Mexico for a house building project. The logistics of the trip were quite challenging, and I would have meetings and hand out lists to students and adults regarding what they need to bring to prepare them for the weeklong trip.
Invariably there was always a student or two that came unprepared; they might not have brought the right kind of clothing, forgot bathroom essentials, or they fail to remember to bring work essentials such as gloves, proper shoes, or a hammer.
In the passage today Jesus is encouraging His disciples to be ready, to be prepared and watchful at all times.
The imagery that Jesus is calling up would be familiar to Jesus’ Jewish listeners, calling to mind the preparedness of the Israelites just prior to their exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12).
In the same way as the Israelites were to be prepared to leave Egypt, Jesus is calling all of His disciples to be prepared and attentive. They are not to relax and fall into the thinking that just because they are Jesus’ disciple, everything will be just fine for them. No. Jesus’ disciples must always be alert and responsive to their relationship with Jesus and ready to follow Jesus when He calls them to action.
What’s really interesting is what Jesus says in verse 39. Suddenly we have a parable inside a parable as Jesus speaks about a homeowner who guards his house against a thief. In the first parable, the servants are to be alert and attentive for the return of the master In the second, the homeowner is to be alert and watch for a thief who is breaking in (in Greek, literally digging through the wall of the house). This parable by the way, is the third time in Luke’s Gospel that we have hint of Jesus’ second coming (9:26, 12:8-9).
But the point of both parables is same for any disciple of Jesus; you don’t know when Jesus will return, only that He will return, and that we are to be ready.
At the end of the passage, there is a special emphasis placed on the those who are entrusted with ministry. They have been entrusted with a responsibility and are expected to carry out that responsibility faithfully. As N.T. Wright notes so well, “Evangelists and teachers, pastors and theologians alike face this responsibility; when the master comes, will they be found busy at their tasks, or taking their ease and abusing the household?”
Those entrusted with positions of authority and leadership in the church are held to a higher standard.
So the encouragement is both straightforward and challenging; wait, watch, be alert, and be ready.
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers!
Luke 12:35–48 (ESV)