Jesus may be speaking with a crowd today but He is primarily addressing His disciples. His message focuses on being ready and doing what you know to be doing during the wait. He uses parables again to get His point across, but even Peter asks for clarification of whom the message was for. By the end, was there still doubt about His intended audience was? We can see Jesus’ interpretation, but did Peter?
Most of the parables Jesus shares today are familiar to us and we have seen them before. We looked at the “faithful and wise manager” in Matthew 24:36-51. Jesus’ statement about the Master and the thief was also in our reading just mentioned. We have also looked at the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. It followed right on the heels of the one about the faithful manager. Jesus’ parable about the bridegroom’s servants is similar in form to the one featuring the virgins. I think we covered these well in our previous studies so I want to focus on the differences today instead.
In the parable about the bridegroom there is something added at the end that I want to take a closer look at. I also want to look at Peter’s question and how it is answered in the end of Jesus’ teaching.
In the end of the bridegroom parable Jesus says, “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” (verse 37). Nowhere else has Jesus set up the master to serve the servants, except for in this parable. I find it interesting that this is also exactly what Jesus did at the last supper when He washed His disciples’ feet.
Jesus’ disciples had been faithfully serving Him during His ministry. No, they didn’t get everything right, but they stuck with Him. They “remained awake.” They didn’t recognize that it was the end of Jesus earthly ministry, but He did. So He took on the role of the servant, just as this master had done. He set aside His robe and wrapped the towel around Himself and began serving His disciples as the lowliest of servants would. He was not only showing His disciples how to serve one another in the future but He was telling them He was proud of them and that they had done well. This was a reward for them. He didn’t lose ANY of His standing or dignity by performing this lowly service because it was done out of love.
Peter asked Jesus who He was telling this parable for right after Jesus had said, “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (verse 40). I wonder when Jesus was sharing these parables with His disciples. Was this taking place in His final week? Was He speaking in the presence of a larger crowd? Peter’s question makes me think He might have been. “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” (verse 42).
Jesus answers Peter’s question with the parable of the faithful manager. He was telling Peter that he was that manager and that he had a choice to make. Serve faithfully until the end or reap the consequences. I wonder if Peter recognized himself in the story.
Jesus went on from there to talk about lesser servants. I think these servants were the ones under the manager. He says that some of these servants will know what the master’s will was and some won’t. Those who do know the Master’s will, and choose to ignore it, will be beaten severely. They knew to do good and chose not to. They have rightly earned their punishment. The servants who didn’t know the Master’s will still knew right from wrong. They will still receive punishment for not choosing to do good but it will be less severe because they didn’t know the plans behind it.
This gradation of responsibility and punishment reminds me of children. A young child knows Mommy gets upset when he takes cookies from the plate without asking, but he doesn’t understand why that is. The ten year old child knows that Mom doesn’t let him have cookies until after dinner because it will fill him up and he won’t eat the healthy foods she has served him. One knew the plan behind when cookies were permitted while the other didn’t but both knew not to take cookies without permission. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (verse 48).
Father God, thank You for entrusting me with Your word. I know I have more than some but much less than others. I guess You could call me the middle servant; the one who knows the plan and is responsible for my own choices to act according to Your directions. I DON’T want to let You down! I know my actions are often not in line with Your word. Please forgive me Father and help me make the right choice the next time. Help me “remain awake.” Help me life my life to the end serving You. That is my heart’s sincere desire. Lord, if I EVER lead anyone astray with my words PLEASE overwrite them! SHUT them away in a locked vault! Convict my heart and show me Your truth instead. I only want to share what is YOUR plan and YOUR truth, not my own. Continue to guide my thoughts every day when I come to You. I know You have before and I trust You to continue to do so until the end. If ever I cross the line or You choose for me to go another way, I will accept Your will. I ask You to make it plain to me though if You want me to stop. I never want to keep working where Your anointing or will is not. Help me be Your faithful servant in ALL I do.