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WHO IS THE FAITHFUL AND WISE MANAGER?

Luke 12:35-12:48
Key Verse: 12:42

In the previous passage Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not worry about your life…But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.” In today’s passage Jesus continues to speak to his disciples, specifically, about his coming again and how they should prepare for it. It is said that every twenty-fifth verse in the Bible is about Jesus’ second coming. As for Christians who believe in Jesus who died for our sins and rose again and ascended into heaven, faith in Jesus’ coming again is essential and so critical. In Luke’s gospel the Lord Jesus speaks of his coming again in three different passages: here in a parable, in chapter 17 related to the description of the coming of the kingdom of God, and in chapter 24 as he talked about the signs of the end of the age and his coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Our Lord Jesus wants all believers to have unshaken faith in his coming again, and eagerly wait for this great future event and know how to prepare for it.

First, be ready and watchful for the coming of the Son of Man (35-40). Look at verses 35 and 36. “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.” “Be dressed ready” in other translations, is “let your waist be girded” or “let your belts be fastened to your waists.” This description is based on the long Eastern dress. The long, flowing robes of the servants had not to be left hanging loose, making work difficult or even impossible (cf. Acts 7:58). These robes must be tucked into the belt, so that the servants can work with ease and are ready to wait on their master. As for us we need the belt of truth buckled around our waist for fighting and service (Ephesians 6:14). And “keep your lamps burning.” In the parable of the ten virgins, when the bridegroom arrived at midnight, five virgins, having prepared extra oil in jars, kept their lamps burning to the end, while the other five, not having taken any oil with them, could not. Only the five wise virgins who kept their lamps burning and so were ready went in with the bridegroom to the wedding banquet (Mt 25:6-10).

Look at verse 37a. “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching, when he comes.” The ESV says: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes,” and the NKJV: “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” Again it is written in verse 38, “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.” In the ESV: “If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!” and in the NKJV: “And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.” The blessedness of the watching and ready servants is emphasized.

We cannot over-stress the importance of readiness in life. We can say that life is the continuation of readying for one certain task after another. Good students are those who prepare well at usual times and can thus be ready for exams. For a concert or any presentation people should be ready for the performance. John the Baptist came as the forerunner of the Messiah. His task was to make ready a people prepared for the Lord through his preaching of the baptism of repentance, turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous (1:17). When Mary decided to obey the will of God for her to be the mother of Jesus, it was a time she could become vulnerable to the devil’s jabbing. At that time, however, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea to visit Elizabeth for spiritual counselling and won the battle. In the book of Judges, when Gideon called the Israelites for fighting, thirty-two thousand men gathered. Then according to God’s command, the twenty-two thousand among them who were seized with fear were sent back and ten thousand remained. For God, however, ten thousand were still too many for the fight. So God led them to the water and told Gideon to "separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink” (Judges 7:3-5). Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths; and only these men, watchful and ready, were to fight against the Midianites and see the glory of God in the victory. In the book of Nehemiah when the Jews were rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, the enemies jealously tried to stop their work. In that situation, Nehemiah encouraged the Jews to "remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for their brothers, their sons and daughters, their wives and their homes". (Ne 4:14) In that encouragement, "those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked" (Ne 4:17-18). Then the wall was completed in fifty-two days (6:15). Those servants who are watchful and ready in the thought of their master are blessed, not only at the present time but also for the eternity.

Look at verse 37 again. “…I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.” Wow! What kind of master is he? A master is someone to be served absolutely. In the ancient times, it was unthinkable for a master to serve. But this master is totally different. This master is the serving master, dressing himself to serve. He serves the ready and watching servants. This master is none other than Jesus. In the upper room he washed his disciples’ feet before the meal. He said to his disciples at the Last Supper in Luke 22:27, “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” He came to serve. The servants who are ready and watching are eternally blessed, being served by the master.

In this allegory, the story is progressively pointed to the return or coming of the master. The mater will return; he will come. He will come even in the middle of the night, while most people are sleeping. He wanted his servants to be ready even for such a coming.

Look at verses 39 and 40. “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Now Jesus finally and explicitly said, “The Son of Man will come.” He will come at an hour when the servants do not expect him. He will come like a thief. There is a 'thief series' in the Bible. Jesus also said in Matthew 24:43, when he told his disciples about the signs of the end of the age that his coming would be like a thief,: “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.” Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” Apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…” In Revelation, the Lord Jesus himself said to the church in Sardis that had a reputation of being alive but was dead, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief…” (Rev 3:3) And the Lord Jesus said in Revelation 16:15, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake…”

Jesus’ coming again is also expressed in this way in this parable. Particularly he said in verse 40, “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” The Second Coming of Jesus will be the greatest event in history as the last promise of God to be fulfilled among all the promises of God in the Bible. In Luke 17:26-30, Jesus compared the time of his coming again to the time of Noah and Lot: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” Jesus’ agony is that most people live day-to-day life without any preparation. He said in Luke 18:8, “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” According to 2 Peter 3:3, “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desire. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'” Our faith in the second coming of the Lord Jesus is really critical and a great battle in our times. In this situation, most significantly we have certain words of promise by our Lord Jesus. In this passage the Lord assured again and again that he will return and he will come. Our Lord himself also said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mt 24:35; Mk 13:31; Lk 21:33). He said this especially concerning his coming again. With the eyes of faith we see that all human history is heading toward the second coming of Christ Jesus our Lord: great earthquakes, and severe famines, pestilences and unknown disease, climate change, cruel wars and dreadful events, the fundamental truth being thrown to the ground, and extreme hatred toward Christians, etc. (Lk 21:10-11, 25; Da 8:12). Living at this time in history may we be found as ready and watchful servants, who eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Christ Jesus to the earth.

Second, the faithful and wise manager (41-48). Look at verse 41. “Peter asked, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?’” Why did Peter ask this? Most probably, Peter could not understand what Jesus was talking about. He had not accepted the teaching that Jesus would die and rise again, let alone that he would ascend into heaven and come back to earth one day. He did not understand when Jesus said, “Be ready”, thinking he was already ready. Probably he was a bit upset and hoped that the parable was for others, not for himself. One servant of God tried his best to explain the secret of success to a young man. The servant of God said, “If you want to be successful in the world, you should overcome yourself toward women and money.” The young man responded, “Are you talking to me?” Peter seemed to be like that. But Jesus did not rebuke the insolent Peter. How did Jesus respond to him?

Look at verse 42. “The Lord answered, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?’” The Lord is the Lord of all. All are in his control and he knows all. But the Lord’s answer is given in question form. To Jesus, what is important is “Who is the faithful and wise manager?” whether the parable is told to the disciples or to everyone. This could be the expression of his great agony. He might hope that Peter would be the faithful and wise manager. This time Jesus did not talk about his coming again.

Here the words, “faithful” and “wise” are written together. Our God is a faithful God. His love and compassion are new every morning; great is his faithfulness (Lamentation 3:23). His faithfulness is new each morning. Zechariah praised God for the faithfulness of the Lord, the God of Israel, who at last has come to (visited) his people according to his promise to redeem them. (Lk 1:68). Also, God is full of wisdom. A Psalmist said, “How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Ps 104:24). Jesus is also faithful. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” In his faithfulness he loved his disciples to the end. He is also full of wisdom. In his wisdom he defeated all his enemies when they tried to trap him with difficult questions, until no one dared to ask him any more questions (Lk 20:39; Mt 22:46). Joseph in the Old Testament was an excellent example of a faithful and wise manager. Whether he was in the prison or in the palace, his heart was the same before God. His position as the Prime Minister of Egypt did not make him proud. He was also wise enough to deal with the economic crisis of Egypt in the seven years of famine. His wisdom was human wisdom but from the Spirit of God in him (Ge 41:38). Proverbs 20:6 says, “Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” And 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

When we observe verse 42, the faithful and wise manager is related to his feeding the servants of the master with their food allowance at the proper time. We are reminded of what Jesus said to Peter after his resurrection: “Do you truly love me?...Feed my lambs, feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17). The faithful and wise managers feed God’s flock of sheep the word of God at the proper time. Being fed the words of God, the flock of God’s sheep can grow healthy and also have discernment to see the world and tell the truth of God from all the deception in the world so that they can walk in the truth, which is the joy of parents and shepherds (2 John 4). Apostle Peter said to God’s flock of sheep, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” (2 Pe 2:2-3). May God raise up faithful and wise Bible teachers who correctly handle the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15) and give God’s flock of sheep spiritual food at the proper time.

Look at verse 43. “It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.” In the ESV and NKJV, “Blessed is that servant whom his master finds doing so when he returns.” The faithful and wise are blessed and happy servants. That servant is blessed and happy because he is recognized by his master in that the master would put him "in charge of all his possessions.” Here again, “when he returns” is mentioned.

Look at verse 45. “But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maid servants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 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 unbelievers.” Throughout church history there were many faithful and wise servants, and at the same time many unfaithful and slack and violent servants who brought such punishment upon themselves. Their lives were not blessed at all. The master is the serving master and also the righteous judge. In this description again the words “coming” and “come” are written. Also, it is stressed that he will come unexpectedly.

Look at verses 47 and 48a. “That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.” This shows that not only are there degrees of glory in the new heaven and earth (1 Cor 15:41,42), but there are also degrees of suffering in hell.

Look at verse 48b. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” There is no partiality with the Lord. His treatment is impartial and fair. We should not waste away God’s given privilege, talent and time. We remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:16, “…Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” God's given privilege is to be born, talent used, the time redeemed, and the opportunity improved. No one has the right to live for himself. A person must live for God (1 Cor 10:31).

Thank God for this study. We pray that each of us may have personal faith in Jesus’ coming again based on his words of promise and eagerly wait for it, striving to be faithful and wise servants who can feed God’s flock of sheep the word of God at the proper time.

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