THE FAITHFUL STEWARD MUST KEEP READY
JESUS COMES TO CREATE DIVISION
Jesus has explained that only a “little flock” will receive a place in the heavenly Kingdom. (Luke 12:32) But receiving that marvelous reward is not something to be treated lightly. In fact, he goes on to stress how important it will be for a person to have the right attitude if he is to be part of the Kingdom.
Accordingly, Jesus admonishes his disciples to keep ready for his return. He says: “Be dressed and ready and have your lamps burning, and you should be like men waiting for their master to return from the marriage, so when he comes and knocks, they may at once open to him. Happy are those slaves whom the master on coming finds watching!”
The disciples can easily grasp the attitude that Jesus is illustrating. The servants he mentions are ready, awaiting their master’s return. Jesus explains: “If [the master] comes in the second watch [from about nine in the evening to midnight], even if in the third [from midnight to about three in the morning], and finds them ready, happy are they!”
This is much more than counsel about being diligent house servants, or workers. That is clear from the way Jesus, the Son of man, brings himself into the illustration. He tells his disciples: “You also, keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely, the Son of man is coming.” (Luke 12:40) So at some future point, Jesus will come. He wants his followers
Peter wants to understand Jesus’ meaning clearly, so he asks: “Lord, are you telling this illustration just to us or also to everyone?” Rather than answer Peter directly, Jesus sets out a related illustration: “Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so! I tell you truthfully, he will appoint him over all his belongings.”
In the earlier illustration, “the master” obviously refers to Jesus, the Son of man. Logically, “the faithful steward” involves men who are part of the “little flock” and who will be given the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32) Here Jesus is saying that certain members of this group will be giving “his body of attendants” their sustenance, “their measure of food supplies at the proper time.” So Peter and the other disciples whom Jesus is teaching and feeding spiritually can conclude that there will be a future period during which the Son of man will come. And in that period, there will be a functioning arrangement for the spiritual feeding of Jesus’ followers, the Master’s “body of attendants.”
Jesus emphasizes in another way why his disciples need to be alert and to give attention to their attitude. That is because it is possible to grow lax and even go to the point of opposing one’s fellows: “But if ever that slave should say in his heart, ‘My master delays coming,’ and starts to beat the male and female servants and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day that he is not expecting him and at an hour that he does not know, and he will punish him with the greatest severity and assign him a part with the unfaithful ones.”
Jesus says that he has come “to start a fire on the earth.” And he has, raising issues that cause great heat of controversy and result in the consuming of false teachings and traditions. This even separates individuals who might be expected to be united, dividing “father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
These comments have been especially for his disciples. Then Jesus turns to the crowds. Most of the people have stubbornly refused to accept the evidence that he is the Messiah, so he tells them: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, at once you say, ‘A storm is coming,’ and it happens. And when you see that a south wind is blowing, you say, ‘There will be a heat wave,’ and it occurs. Hypocrites, you know how to examine the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to examine this particular time?” (Luke 12:54-56) They clearly are not ready.
What is the purpose of Christ’s return? In what manner will he return, and what will he then do?