DUNCAN/The faithful slave

DUNCAN/The faithful slave


If you have Bibles, please open to Matthew chapter 24:45-51. Jesus is telling a story, about a slave who is given responsibility while his master is away. This story is continuing the theme that Jesus has been teaching about, being ready for the return of the master, being prepared for the return of Christ. In this passage there are two points that I want you to consider as we think about His return. First, who is the faithful servant? Second, we will look at the characteristics and rewards of the evil servant.

I. Who is The Faithful Servant?

Who is the faithful servant? Jesus is asking a question in verse 45 which is basically this question: What does a person look like who is ready for Christ’s coming? Look at verse 45. He says, who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time. He is asking the question, who is the faithful servant? What is a person doing who is a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? What does the person look like who is ready for Christ’s coming? 

He is telling a story which would have been immediately understandable to everyone who heard him speak that day. It was very common for wealthy landowners, to take long journeys. Often those where business journeys, in which the whole family would be uprooted from their home and would travel to another place. Often times, it was simply removal to a summer or winter home in some other part of the Mediterranean world. And it would have been standard practice for a wealthy householder or landowner to put as the chief servant, the most trusted servant in charge of all his possessions and in charge of all the other servants. And then when the landowner came back, that servant would give account as a steward for all his actions and what he had done while the landowner had been away.

Now there are several things that you notice as you look at this story. First of all, you see that Christian watchfulness, is not passive. Christian watchfulness doesn’t mean reading books which speculate about the nature of the end times or thinking through different theories of when and how Jesus might come again. Christian watchfulness means faithfulness. To be ready is to be faithful. To be faithful is to be ready. There are duties to be discharged by believers. And those duties are the things which Christ has entrusted us with and in this passage, He especially stresses, what? Looking out for one another, caring for one another, ministering to one another. Notice in this story, that the master is gone away for a long time. I wonder if Jesus is hinting to the disciples that his delay in coming may be a little longer than their anticipating. It may be a while before His return comes. He speaks of the master being away for a long time.

Now every professing Christian ought to take stock and ask, am I ready for His coming in light of this story? Do I look like someone who is ready for His coming. We ought to take stock of our faithfulness according to Jesus’ standard of measure. Are we obedient to His commandments? Do we want to be obedient to His commandments? Are we more concerned about His own agenda, His kingdom agenda, then our own agenda? Or is He on the periphery of our thoughts and experience? We ought to be faithful because the reward of blessing awaits every faithful servant of Christ. 

II. Characteristics and Rewards of The Evil Servant 

Now Jesus tells the flip side of the story in verses 48-51. Here He gives us the characteristics of the rewards of the evil servant. And the evil servant here is a nominal Christian. This is somebody who claims to be a Christian, with their lips, but they are not there in their heart. Jesus is responding to the issue of hypocrisy in this passage. In fact, we learn that the nominal Christian is threatened with judgment not only here, but here after, because of his evil thoughts and ways. You know normally we don’t talk about our friends as evil people. I mean if you are non-Christian here today, you will be happy to know that we Christians normally don’t sit around describing you as evil people. In fact, we kind of like some of you. But here is an ultimate assessment about a person. Here is a person who doesn’t trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and is not faithful in his way. And you know what they are called at the end? Evil. That is blunt, but it is reality.

And Jesus goes on to explore the thoughts that are going on in that person’s heart. My master is not coming for a long time. You see carelessness and spiritual laziness, and spiritual presumption. This person doesn’t care about ultimate spiritual realities, like the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us the actions of this slave. He beats his fellow slaves; he eats and drinks with drunkards. He abuses his position and he doesn’t help the household of faith, he hurts them. Furthermore, he associates himself with those who indulge in fleshly desires. He clearly doesn’t have spiritual desires; he would rather indulge in the desires of the flesh. What is going to happen on the coming of his master? He is going to be taken by surprise. Why? He will be taken by surprise because he doesn’t really believe. It will be unexpected to him, because he is not prepared. He is not expectant. And so, the Christian must live expectantly. In contrast with the natural man who will be unprepared and unexpecting of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And notice the brutality of the slave's judgment. He will be cut to pieces. That is an immediate judgment. He will be assigned the place with the hypocrites. Even when the judgment comes, as horrific it will be, there will be no repentance. They will gnash their teeth at Christ. They will grind their teeth in defiance against Him. They will hate Him, more than they have every hated Him before. Jesus is especially warning us here against the parallels against religious hypocrisy and nominalism.

The Lord Jesus is saying to us, you must be ready by being faithful. He is not asking you to put your binoculars out and look for His coming. He is saying be faithful to what I have commanded you to do. And as you’re faithful, you will be ready. Be and remain actively loyal to the master. Sensibly and joyfully carry out the task assigned to you by Him in the interest of those who are precious to Him. That is how you are ready for the coming of the Lord. May God help us all.

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