THE PARABLES OF JESUS
 

The Thief and the Servants

Scripture:   Luke 12:32-48   (see also Matthew 24: 42-51)

32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  33 Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour." 41 Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?" 42 And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and  drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him  with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be  required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.

Meditation: What does treasure, a thief, a wedding feast, and a homecoming have in common?  Jesus loved to tell stories (in the form of parables) using common everyday images to draw some rather unusual comparisons and often quite unexpected lessons for his audience.  There is an element of surprise in the story of the master returning home unexpectedly after the marriage feast. Will he catch his servant sleeping rather than keeping watchful guard?  And how about the person who possessed great wealth, but woke up one day to discover that a thief had carried it all off. What does this say to us about the kingdom of heaven? The treasure God offers is of far greater value that any earthly treasure and more secure!  But it's possible to lose this treasure if we do not guard what has been entrusted to us by God. What is this treasure?  The Lord offers us a relationship with him as his sons and daughters and the promise of eternal life as well.  The image Jesus uses here is a great wedding feast in which the master honors his guests by seating them in the place of honor and personally waiting on them himself.  This parable also contains a lesson in faithfulness and a warning against sloth. Why is faithfulness so important to God?  For one, it's the foundation for any lasting and meaningful relationship.  Faithfulness or fidelity allows us to persevere in living out an unswerving commitment. The Lord is committed to us in a bond of unbreakable love and fidelity.  That is what covenant means -- keeping one's word, promise, and commitment no matter how tough or difficult it gets.  Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us.  Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to be faithful.  He also rewards faithfulness. Why is fidelity or faithfulness so difficult today?  Modern society extols freedom over fidelity and doesn't want to be bound to an unknown or uncertain future.  It's also inconvenient and a burden to the pursuit of one's own interests.  We badly need to recover this virtue, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the next generation as well.  If we want to pass on the faith then we need to first be faithful models for our youth. Faithfulness demands consistency, a determination to stay the course, and hard work. Cal Ripken, the American baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, is a sports hero simply because he always shows up and gives his best.  He hasn't missed one game in his 26 years of playing baseball! Only one other player in history has come close to that record.  In 1983 he hurt his hand sliding on artificial turf and was unable to grip the bat at first; he somehow gritted his teeth and got five hits that night, two of them home runs.  The joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it an awesome responsibility.  The Lord expects us to make good use of the gifts and graces he gives to us.  The more he gives, the more he requires.  The temptation while the Master is away is to put off for tomorrow what we know the Master expects us to do today!  Are you faithful to God and  ready to give him an account of your stewardship?

"Lord, you are faithful even when I fail.  Help me to remain ever faithful to you and to not shrink back when I encounter difficulties.  Make me diligent in the exercise of my responsibilities and wise and prudent in the use of my gifts, time and resources."


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(c) 1998 Don Schwager