Good Servants, Bad Servants

Friends, I am excited to tell you about a new series we have started in our Stepping Stones class – the Parables of Jesus! This has been an almost-drastic change of pace from the Gospel of John. Where we were previously covering entire chapters at a time, we are now focusing in on a handful of verses each week. But these mind-blowing teachings of Jesus are so power-packed that we have hardly been able to get through the studies each week! That said, let’s dive right in, shall we?

Our first parable for study comes from Luke 12:35-48. In these passages, Jesus gives two stories about servants. The first parable tells of followers who remain watchful. They are constantly ready and eagerly anticipate the arrival of their master, even if his return seems delayed: “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately” (vs. 35-36). Most importantly, these servants are not just waiting because they feel obligated or because they fear punishment – they are excited, thrilled, about their master’s return! And we should be, too!

Jesus’ second parable contrasts a wise, faithful head servant with a foolish, wicked one. “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk” (vs. 45). We shouldn’t be too quick to to think that this parable is about a different group of people in a different culture and time – this applies to us right here today! Jesus is talking about His servants in His church! Servants who have the responsibility to care for and guide those under their charge. But the servant in this parable neglects his responsibility¬† towards those under him. (Part of that responsibility included providing each servant with their daily portion of bread.) He then abuses his fellow servants. I read an insightful commentary that stated, “Instead of acting as a servant, the head servant is acting as the master and taking upon himself a master’s prerogatives to discipline.” (jesuswalk.com) Is this hitting close to home yet? Can we at times be in danger of neglecting our responsibility to our brothers and sisters around us? What about taking “the master’s prerogatives to discipline” or judge or condemn? Jesus has nothing nice to say about the lot of those who abuse their positions in the church. In fact, he has one of the most sobering warnings ever given in Scripture…

But perhaps the most important takeaway for our ministry as servants is to remember to take our example from the Servant of Servants. Jesus did not intend for these parables to communicate that our Father is somehow lording over us, gloating about His mastery and dominion over his pathetic slaves. Instead, Jesus’ entire life screams out that “Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). In fact, Jesus even flips the entire paradigm upside down in Luke 12:37: “Blessed are those servants whom the Master, when He comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that He [the Master!] will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.” We must remember that, before we can ever accept the wonderfully high calling of being a servant for the kingdom, we must first allow the King of the universe to come and serve us.

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