Do you remember when you were a child in elementary school and the teacher would leave the classroom to go down the hall to the principal’s office? She would say, “I will be back soon. While I’m gone I want reading group number one to read your story for the day. Group two may color quietly at your seats.”
After several minutes without a reappearance of the teacher, there would be some talking that increasingly interrupted the silence. And then Johnny would throw an eraser. Billy would toss it back. Pretty soon a riot was in full swing. And right at the very moment you raised your hand to throw a piece of chalk back at the class bully, the teacher walks in and looks at you.
Jesus Christ has gone to THE Principal’s office, and he’s still there. But someday the master teacher is coming back, and that is what our passage today is all about.
An exact identification of each element of these parables is debated to some extent, but the big idea is clear – it is about readiness. We cannot know the exact time when Christ will return, but we do know that we must be actively faithful, recognizing we are responsible for the blessings we have been given.
It is wrong for us to think that Christ surely has to come back very soon, given the crazy condition of our world, and therefore stop working and serving. And it is wrong to think that the Lord has delayed coming for so long that it certainly won’t happen in our lives, so why work hard in expectation of something we don’t think is going to eventuate.
In high school when I was a cross country distance runner, I was told that a college scout was going to come to my race. I was very excited about this; though when the race started, he was not there. At the end of the first of three laps on our course (of roughly one mile each), I did not see him. Likewise, no college coach after the second lap. I concluded he wasn’t coming and slowed down, finishing the race with a very average time. Yep, you guessed it – he was arriving as I began the third lap, and all he saw was a mediocre high school runner. I was no longer a recruit for that college.
An additional principle in the passage is that we are responsible and accountable for the giftings and blessings we have from the Lord. To whom much has been given, much is required. Have we all been given much? Indeed, the blessings of life in the modern era give us innumerable ways of serving God and being a part of his worldwide effort of building the church. So let us be faithful … and ready.
Luke 12:35 – “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”
42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, 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 is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.