Read: Luke 12:35-48
A beatitude, a warning, and a parable. Three sections carefully designed to emphasize the call to consistent, faithful service. Beware! The narrative comes with warnings of judgment and dire consequences for disobedience. The warning is clear and the parable is often used to convict those in vocational service within the church, but don’t miss the incredible reward that Jesus provides to in the beatitude.
Beatitude: Luke 12:35-38
Once again, Jesus uses the imagery of a wedding banquet which lasted some five to seven days. In other words, you don’t know when the master is going to return. For those who are prepared in spite of the extended absence, Jesus tells of a wonderful reward:
Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. Luke 12:37
What a joy it is for the Lord of lords to find us so prepared when He returns that He serves us! This is crazy talk, right? The blessing here, the beatitude, is simply this: Blessed is the one who is always prepared to greet the Lord.
Warning: Luke 12:39-40
The story prompts us to be prepared, so Jesus wants to ensure we’re clear that this is more than just a good thing, this is a requirement that comes with a warning.
You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Luke 12:40
Peter asks for clarification in verse 41. It’s humorous how Jesus answers his rather innocent, Peter-esque question — well, He doesn’t. Instead, Jesus tells a story. The NIV Application Commentary explains: “his main principle is the kind of service we give, not sorting out who is responsible to give it…all have a call to serve others in the body…to be a member of his community is to have responsibility in it; this is especially true of the leadership.”*
Parable of Accountability: Luke 12:42-48
Whether you read this as pointing directly to the church, your workplace, or your home, the lesson is all about personal accountability. For those who abuse their position of authority, who see an opportunity to exploit others while the master is away for an extended time, the punishment is extreme:
He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. Luke 12:46
Those who know better will be severely disciplined. Such hyperbole is meant to get our attention. Please notice that it is the master that judges, not the people who were mistreated. This is an important distinction to me.
The section ends with a verse that my parents poured into me in, not only in words, it’s how they lived their lives:
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. Luke 12:48
The way mom and dad put it:
To whom much is given, much is required.Mom and Dad
Why are we given gifts, both spiritual and physical? Why would the Lord shower us with blessings, both talents and abilities? I’m sure He wants to demonstrate His unfailing love, no doubt, but I’m also sure that He wants us to show the same love to our neighbors, to the least, the lost, and the lonely. Most of the time this probably looks like consistent, faithful service–nothing special.
I hope we are consistently prepared for the Lord’s return. I pray that we will lean on each other when we are not, that we would spur each other on with the best of intentions. Above all, that we would do these things in love for the world to see how beautiful You are and join in the banquet with us.
*Wilkins, Michael J.; Garland , David E.; Bock, Darrell L.; Burge, Gary M.; Fernando, Ajith. NIVAC Bundle 6: Gospels, Acts (The NIV Application Commentary) (Kindle Locations 51211-51213). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.