New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Be in Readiness

Our last parable spoke of watchful servants and the timing of the coming of the Son of man. The message was “Expect Him when you least expect Him”. Immediately after that message, the Lord questions His disciples of what “the Faithful and Wise” servant was. Recall in the last parable we had a master of the house that should have stayed awake. In this parable, the master of the house has left the household and placed responsibility on the servant. But I am getting ahead of myself. Lets read the passage.

Matthew 24:45-51

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Peter was beginning to wonder about the intended audience of the last parable and Luke records that prior to the giving of this parable, Peter requested some clarification

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” – Luk 12:41 ESV

Jesus did not answer other that the following parable describing of the wise and faithful servant. Do we need to see in Peter the same motivation we may have, of avoiding the finger being pointed at us? Is this question revealing a motivation to avoid responsibility? I know I am in that camp!

When did the Lord give this parable?

I presume this parable was given directly after the previous one. Jesus is teaching of not only the unknown timing of His return, but in this parable, of the results of not being ready. The consequences of the servant not being ready.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Since we are understanding this parable to be directly after the previous one, the location of outside the temple, on the Mount of Olives, is best to be understood

Why did the Lord give this message?

The Lord is warning His disciples of the deadly consequence of assuming the Master’s delay in His return.

What was the message for the original audience?

Notice the parable speaks of a wise and faithful servant being compared to a wicked servant.

The Wise and Faithful Servant

First, lets consider the wise and faithful servant. His only responsibility is to give his fellow servants food at the proper time. The servant needs to go out and earn a wage, raise the cattle, grow the wheat, harvest the fields, mill the grain, slaughter the animals, cook the meals and feed the servants.

Is that how you read it?

The wise and faithful servant was to give his fellow servants food, at a proper time. The verb is give, not supply or provide. The servant was to take of the Masters plenty and distribute the Master’s food at a proper time. This servant is not required to produce the food, simply to distribute the food at the proper time.

This is a management of resources position, a position of responsibility in distributing the Master’s provision to the Master’s servants. There would be a time when distributing the food would be correct, and there would be times when distributing the food would be wrong. That is the very definition of “proper time”!

Let’s continue this train of thought below, in “What is the message for us today?”, and consider the reward granted the wise servant.

Reward?

The wise and faithful servant will receive greater responsibility when the Master returns. The reward is more responsibility!

What? Where are the riches, the possessions, the houses and lands?

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. – Luke 16:10 ESV

The Wicked Servant

The wicked servant follows through on an assumption that the Master will be delayed. Critical error, for this thinking justifies his following actions, and to abdicate his responsibilities.

The wicked servant begins to beat his fellow servants.

In the kingdom, when a servant turns to bad thinking, those who continue to think properly become the enemy. This difference in thought becomes the catalyst for the wicked servant to reject his fellow servants. Rejecting his fellow servants eventually grows into a physical response against his fellow servants.

The wicked servant not only rejects his fellow servants, but joins those who eat and drink without restraint. Remember the servants one responsibility is to distribute food in a timely fashion, or at a proper time. This servant, having become wicked through wrong thoughts, has thrown out all restraint, and is possibly giving the Masters food and drink to drunkards. He has abandoned his fellow servants, beaten them and migrated his affections to drunkards, joining them in their short sighted and dangerous life.

Rewards?

The wicked servant will be cut in pieces, placed with the hypocrites. In the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth!

Cut in pieces! This may be referring to the Hebrews most cruel method of punishment.

And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. – 1Sa 15:33 ESV

This term, cutting in pieces, may be referring to one of two actions. To be cut in pieces may speak of the complete cutting in half of the victim. The other is that the victim is cut up by scourging. Either one is completely undesirable! Either consequence is to be avoided at all cost!

But notice, that after being cut in pieces, the wicked servant is placed with the hypocrites, those drunkards and gluttons he associated with (?) in a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Check out Parable Surprises – Wedding Banquet for information on gnashing and weeping.

Two servants. Two rewards. One decision. One decision makes the difference. That decision was to assume the delay of the Master.

What is the message for us today?

Proper Time

What is the importance of the reference to “proper time” in the servants duties? Are we instructed, in wisdom, to give out a message at a proper time? Is there a time when we should restrict the message? To be clear, I am assuming the “food of the Master” that is to be given out to others is synonymous to the message we have been given. The truth of the Word.

Consider

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. – Matthew 7:6 ESV

What was Jesus referring to here? Is there a time to restrict providing the Word to some? Since wisdom is required, lets see if the proverbs may help us!

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. – Pro 9:7 ESV

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words. – Pro 23:9 ESV

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. – Pro 26:4 ESV

If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet. – Pro 29:9 ESV

Don’t get me wrong. Preaching the word is to be done in season and out of season. This command was given to Timothy, a pastor of a local church. The gospel is for all.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. – 2Ti 4:2 ESV

Was this command to Timothy to preach the Word intended only for those within the church, or beyond the walls and into the culture he lived in? It appears to be for those who are in the church, since Paul warns them of them turning away from listening to the truth.

and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. – 2Ti 4:4 ESV

And yet the proverbs above, (and our subject parable) speaks of proper times of giving out “food”.

As I have walked this pilgrim way, I have come to recognize that some that I share with simply mock, or reject the message. Previously, I entered into arguments with those who were of differing opinions. Surely I could convince them!

That is until I read the reason Jesus taught in parables. He gave truth to all, but in a manner that caused those who were hungry and thirsty for truth to pursue the topic. The parables were Jesus method (at least one method) of weeding out those who could care less, of teaching only the teachable. Consider Parable Surprises – Why? for a fuller explanation of this truth.

Since then, I have used this method falteringly, and have found various results. When I provide a story speaking of a difficult teaching, those who have an interest, follow up with me. Those who have no interest, move on to other topics.

I am sure it is my weakness in using this method that results in the low response rate, and not the present condition of this generation towards the things of God. Oh, to have the skill of telling stories that cause questions in the hearer!

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth (for whom?)

This message speaks of a servant suffering with the hypocrite? But I have a question for my reader.

Are we to equate the servants in this parable with New Testament believers? If so, this causes me pause. Can a New Testament believer suffer weeping and gnashing of teeth?

Are we to equate the servants in this parable to non-believers? If the servants are not New Testament believers, how does this apply to us today? In other words, what was the purpose of the parable if it was intended for non-believers!

Let’s cut to the chase! This parable speaks of two types of servants. The difference? One assumption! That one assumption led to further decisions for the wicked servant to abandon his responsibilities, and join a wasteful and thankless gang.

Don’t assume the delay of the Master. His timing is unknown, per the last parable, and that is the Master’s decision. When (not if) to come is His prerogative. Whether He comes today or in ten thousand years is His decision alone, and we can not know it! Our responsibility is to trust His coming may be any day, and that He is not delaying His coming. Out of that belief, we will naturally seek to “provide food” to others in the proper time!

Thanks for joining me in this parable, and if you have a comment, please provide in the comments section below.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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