John T. Willis

Friday, December 21, 2012

Be Alert! Be Faithful!--Luke 12:35-48

After encouraging his disciples not to worry, Jesus continues by admonishing them always to be alert and to be faithful. This appears in Luke 12:35-48, and naturally falls into four small paragraphs. I. Be Alert! 12:35-38. [See Mark 13:35-37]. a. Watchfulness and faithfulness are closely related to the treasure in heaven and the true meaning of life. In this setting, the master [Jesus Christ] is absent--on a journey. The expression "Be dressed for action," literally "let your loins be girded" is based on the common daily practice of letting the long-ankle length robe be adjusted by a waist-belt to ensure readiness for action or departure. This calls to mind the exodus from Egypt in the days of Moses (Exodus 12:11, 22-23). This practice appears often in scripture (see 1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 4:29; 9:1; Job 38:3; 40:7; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13). The expression "have your lamps lit" is a common term for watchfulness (see Luke 8:16; 11:33; Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 24:2). 12:35. b. Jesus Christ may return at any moment. God's faithful servants must always be ready to receive Jesus Christ into his house at the wedding banquet when he knocks. The idea of knocking at the door appears in Revelation 3:20. 12:36. c. All of God's people are "slaves." But when the master [Jesus Christ] comes, the master will fasten his belt and have his slaves sit down, and he will come and serve them. Hence, God's people are extremely blessed. This text alludes to the practice in the first century CE that the night was divided into three watches: 6-10, 10-2, 2-6. 12:37-38. II. Jesus' Arrival is Unexpected. Luke 12:39-40. a. Continuing his message to his disciples about watchfulness, Jesus emphasizes that the coming [advent, arrival] of Jesus is unknown and unexpected. Jesus is like a burglar prowling around who breaks into a house [this figure is based on the common practice that in Palestine in the first century CE, people used mud-brick walls]. The figure of the unexpected burglar appears in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3; 16:15. 12:39. b. Since no one knows when the burglar [Jesus Christ] arrives, one must always be ready. 12:40. III. Peter asks Jesus whether this message is for the Twelve or for everyone. Luke 12:41-46. a. Peter wants to know whether Jesus' charge to be alert is for the Twelve or for all the community of faith. 12:41. b. Jesus responds in two ways. First, the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves is responsible. This manager must give his master's slaves their allowance of food at the proper time. The master will bless this manager, his slave, when the master arrives. This manger, this slave, is any person in position who is responsible for managing and taking care of a group of people. This fits well with the function of shepherds of a local church. 12:42-43. c. Anyone who seriously accepts the responsibility of being a co-ordinator and helper of other people demonstrates that person is trustworthy to be in charge of all of God's possessions. 12:44. d. Unfortunately, many people who get into responsible positions change into a different personality. A person who originally was very good is now IN CONTROL [he or she assumes] and [thinks he or she] can do anything he or she wishes. Jesus says, if that kind of person beats the other slaves, men and women, and eats and drinks and gets drunk, the master will arrive unexpectedly, cut that person into pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. The expression "cut in pieces" is a figurative term for severe punishment. 12:45-46. IV. Jesus' Punishment for the Unfaithful. Luke 12:47-48. a. Jesus concludes his message about the importance of watchfulness and faithfulness by declaring the punishment for his earthly slaves. On the one hand, if a slave knew what his master wanted but did not prepare himself or did not want to do this, he will receive several punishment. This slave acted deliberately or intentionally. 12:47. b. On the other hand, if a slave did not know what his master wanted will receive a light beating. If the master gives much, the slave requires much. When the master entrusts something to his slave, he will demand even more of the slave. 12:48. God heaps numerous gifts and blessings on his people. In response, God requires much of his people, his slaves. God desires that his faithful people are always alert and faithful. Share YOUR disappointments and aspirations and blessings and accolades with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


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