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WHO IS THE FAITHFUL AND WISE SERVANT?

Matthew 24:36-24:51
Key Verse: 24:45

In the previous passage we thought about the coming of the Son of Man. It will be preceded by great distress unequaled from the beginning of the creation. Nonetheless to say, the glory of his coming again will be unequaled. Jesus’ coming again in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory will be an astounding event to the inhabitants of the earth. But to his elect it will be truly a glorious day of complete salvation and joy and victory. We can participate in his glory by his grace alone. However, Jesus wants us to seriously prepare for the glorious and victorious day. In this study we can think about how the people of the world will live at the end of the age and how his people should prepare for his second coming (or return).

First, as in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man (36-41). Look at verse 36. “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor are the Son, but only the Father.” Jesus spoke about his return with certainty. He knew how he would come. But he did not know when he would come. Why is it so, although he knows everything God the Father does? This is a secret on earth and a secret even in heaven. Those who have tried to predict a certain day of his coming have failed. And those who still try to predict a definite day are presumptuous.

Then what does Jesus say next? Look at verse 37. “As in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Jesus compared the days of the coming of the Son of Man to the days of Noah. What does he speak about the days of Noah? Look at verse 38. “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark.” Why did Jesus this? Is it wrong to eat and drink, marry and be given in marriage? Are not these things a part of normal human life? He could have spoken about the corruption and violence of Noah’s time. What was Jesus’ point when he mentioned eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage of people in Noah’s time? The point was that people were so engrossed in their physical life that they completely ignored the spiritual side of life. They were only concerned about what to eat and what to drink, craving for better and better food and drink for their stomach’s satisfaction. And the purpose of their marrying and giving in marriage was physical pleasure. The author of Genesis described their marriage with this one verse in Genesis 6:2, “the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” Even so-called believers liked women who had beautiful appearance. They left God out of their marriage. The criteria of their marriage were not faith in God and inner beauty but physical attractiveness and money and romantic love. They wanted to have their own choice, not God’s choice.

Originally marriage came from God. God instituted the marriage. When we think about the first marriage, God brought Eve to Adam and Adam really liked God’s choice. She was suitable to him. They were to do God’s holy mission together and they were stewards of God’s created world. They were also life-long companions. They wholly loved God and genuinely loved each other. They were truly happy in God.

However, in Noah’s time people’s view of marriage was distorted. Most seriously God was absent from the picture. Godless and humanistic views of marriage became prevalent. This was the sign of their downfall to world corruption. God gave them a clear judgment message but they totally rejected it. Then finally the flood came. Jesus said, “…people were eating and drinking, marring and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away” (38,39). Numerous people, some say several billions of people, were gone in forty days. The flood judgment was true.

Then Jesus said, “That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” When we think about our times, there seem to be too much good food and beverage. There are many diseases developed due to so much consuming food and so much drinking. Eating and drinking is really a big part of human life in our days. And the truth about marriage and family seems to be thrown down to the ground. Views of marriage and concepts of the family are twisted to the point of legal allowance of unconventional marriage and family. Schools even teach young children that there are more than two genders, male and female. It is likely that in our time people are going too far regarding marriage and family which were God’s utmost blessing for mankind. According to Jesus this is lifestyle which is distinctive of the end of the age.

Jesus continued, “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” In our terms two will be working in a same office or studying in the same class, one will be taken to meet Jesus in the air (1 Thess. 4:17) and the other left. Two humanly close people can be separated. And it also means there will be clearly two groups of people, one group taken for eternal salvation and glory and another left for the alternative destiny. So as God’s people we should not be assimilated nor conform to the pattern of people’s lifestyle of the end time. We should all the more fasten to the truth about marriage and family and pray for godly marriages and mission families and raise up godly children as spiritual leaders in these end times.

Second, therefore keep watch (42-44). Look at verse 42. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Jesus repeatedly says this. No one knows that day or hour. We do not know on what day our Lord will come. Jesus predicted his death on the cross which would end his three years of his public life, and foretold the exact date of his resurrection. It was on the third day after his death: “On the third day he will be raised to life” (16:21; 17:23; 20:19). But he said that he himself did not know the date of his coming, though he could tell how he would come. Look at verse 43. “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” Do you understand this? Everyone seems to understand this, for it sounds so easy. Then what does Jesus want his people to understand through the story of the thief? It is a warning to be prepared for the thief’s inevitable coming. The thief aims to come at a time when everybody in the house sleeps. Jesus will come like a thief. The apostles wrote this in their epistles. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly…” Peter said in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…” Revelation 3:3 says, “…But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” And Revelation 16:15 says, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake…” So we must be prepared. Jesus said, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” The only secret to prepare for his coming like a thief is to keep watch and be ready.

One of the great problems of human beings is that they do not prepare for the future. We should learn how to prepare for the future. Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseers or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in the summer and gathers its food at harvest.” We remember in Genesis how Joseph prepared at the time of abundance for the global famine. During the seven years of abundance, he collected all the food produced in those years in Egypt and stored it in the cities. Genesis 41:49 says, “Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.” Then he could be used by God for the saving of many lives including his own family members in Canaan. According to Jesus every one’s life will have the times of harrowing hardships and trouble. The rain comes, the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against to the house of each and every one’s life (Mt 7:25). It is common to all. But the house that prepares for the rushing torrent in life will not fall, while other houses fall with a great crash.” The house that will not fall is the life house of the one who hears Jesus’ words and puts them into practice. How important it is in life to learn preparing or ready spirit. May we especially be ready for the coming of the Son of Man, keeping watch each day. Mark and Luke both end Jesus’ teaching of his second coming with the word, watch, in Mark “Watch!” (Mk 13:37) and in Luke “Be always on the watch” (Lk 21:36).

Third, the faithful and wise servant and the wicked servant (45-51). Matthew ends Jesus’ teaching about the Son of Man’s coming with the story of the faithful servant and the wicked servant. Look at verse 45. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?” Here we see how to watch and prepare for the coming of the Son of Man. Our Lord Jesus wants each of his people to be the faithful and wise servant, who takes care of God’s flock of sheep faithfully giving them their spiritual food at the proper time. Psalm 104: 27 says, “These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.” The Creator God, the LORD provides food for all his living creatures without fail and they are satisfied. A shepherd leads his flock of sheep to green pastures (Ps 23:2), where they can eat grass to their satisfaction. A mother feeding her young kids at each proper time is beautiful. Giving food definitely includes cooking. A good parent cooks faithfully and wholeheartedly to feed their children with delicious and nutritious and healthy food. Jesus once said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). How good it is to feed God’s flock of sheep with well cooked spiritual food! Apostle Paul exhorted his spiritual son and successor Timothy to be approved as one who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). As we studied, one clear characteristic of the end time is deception through false prophets and deceptive phenomena of the world. The way to overcome deception is to know the words of God’s truth correctly. Then faithful and wise Bible teachers are absolutely needed. In these last days one of the most beautiful scenes before God can be a Bible teacher serving his or her Bible student with the spiritual food of God’s word properly. Feeding God’s flock with the word of God coincides with the direction of the gospel of the kingdom being preached to the people to all nations.

Look at verses 46,47. “It will be good for that servant whose mater finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” To be the faithful and wise servant is pleasing to our Master Jesus and truly a blessed life with the rewards of our Lord and Master Jesus.

Look at verse 48-49. “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.” The wicked servant is one who in complacency lives a self-centred and pleasure-seeking life neglecting the Mater’s task assigned to him. Then what happens to the wicked servant? Look at verses 50-51. “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This chapter is not happy ending. As always, Jesus is not interested in speaking what people’s ears itch to hear. Jesus knows the spiritual reality and speaks the truth. It is surprising that the expression of weeping and gnashing of teeth is written 6 times in Matthew’s gospel (8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). In this way Matthew expresses the severe judgment of God, and sharply contrasts God’s reward and his judgment.

In this passage Jesus taught us how the people of the world would live at these end times and how God’s people should live. While people of the world live like in the days of Noah in the end time, our Master Jesus wants his people to keep watch and be the faithful and wise servants, who take care of God’s flock of sheep faithfully feeding them with the words of God at each proper time. May we be found in doing so when he returns.

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