The Natural Order of Things
Text: Matthew 24 : 32 - 51
Jesus had to bring to a close this fascinating though difficult subject concerning the end times. It is interesting to note how Jesus concluded this teaching.
“But know this, that if the master of the house had known
what hour the thief would come, he would have watched
and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming
at an hour you do not expect.”
What is the natural order of things in life? Jesus gave a puzzling illustration to His disciples. Of course a house-owner would not be able to tell when a thief will strike at his house. If he were to know that, he would be fully prepared! Jesus went on to make an application of this illustration! The Son of Man would come as a thief in the night! The only way to be fully prepared is to “be ready” for His coming at any time! To “be ready” is the natural order where application in eschatological studies is concerned!
ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING “BE READY”
How does one sustain this state of being “ready”? Let us look at how Jesus concluded His teaching on this subject.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master
made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes,
will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him
ruler over all his goods.”
“A faithful and wise servant”
“Being ready” at all times is not a problem to the “faithful and wise servant”. The master of the house has appointed him “ruler” or “manager” over his household. Among his many duties, he is to care for the other servants of the household.
1. The role of a “servant”
What is the main concern of a good “servant” (literally “slave”)? Let us remember that the slave is not paid at all, no matter how hard he works! The main concern of a good servant is total obedience to his master!
2. A faithful servant
What makes a slave do his work well? He could do his work out of fear of punishment. A slave could be flogged or sold in the marketplace if he serves unsatisfactorily.
The good servant is one who is faithful at heart! He serves well because he honours his master and he respects himself. He understands that he will not be paid for his labour. Nevertheless he serves with dignity and distinction because he desires to be faithful. What a challenge to be faithful and wise as servants of God!
3. A wise servant
Through years of faithful service, the service obtains wisdom. He does not serve because of wages. He serves because he has found a good master. He serves well and finds joy and meaning in what he does. The more he proves himself worthy of his master’s trust, the more he will be given responsibility! He may not be paid, because he is a slave. However, because of the good work he does, he earns something worth far more than money. He has earned the respect and trust of his master.
What is the reward of the servant who has been found faithful by his master? This faithful and wise servant would be further acknowledged and then promoted! He will still only be a slave! However, he now basks in the delight of his master!
A NEEDED WORD OF WARNING
As may be expected, not all would be faithful and wise. Jesus gave a general word of warning to all. Either one is faithful, or one runs the danger of becoming evil!
“But if that evil servant says in his heart,
‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat
his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,
the master of that servant will come on a day when he is
not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,
and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with
the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“That evil servant”
What a contrast between this “evil servant” and the “faithful and wise” one. What is the difference?
1. This man’s heart was evil
He was anything but faithful and wise. He was well described as “evil”.
2. His deeds were foul.
He began to abuse his privileged position. He wasted his master’s money in carousing. He beat fellow servants, because he was appointed as the one in charge.
3. His punishment
He deserved to be punished! He had betrayed his master’s trust. He was nothing more than a hypocrite! He would regret his actions, but it would be too late then!