35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps lit. 36 Be like people waiting for their master to come home from a wedding celebration, who can immediately open the door for him when he arrives and knocks on the door. 37 Happy are those servants whom the master finds waiting up when he arrives. I assure you that, when he arrives, he will dress himself to serve, seat them at the table as honored guests, and wait on them. 38 Happy are those whom he finds alert, even if he comes at midnight or just before dawn. 39 But know this, if the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he wouldn’t have allowed his home to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Human One [or Son of Man] is coming at a time when you don’t expect him.”
41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?”
42 The Lord replied, “Who are the faithful and wise managers whom the master will put in charge of his household servants, to give them their food at the proper time? 43 Happy are the servants whom the master finds fulfilling their responsibilities when he comes. 44 I assure you that the master will put them in charge of all his possessions.
45 “But suppose that these servants should say to themselves, My master is taking his time about coming. And suppose they began to beat the servants, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk. 46 The master of those servants would come on a day when they weren’t expecting him, at a time they couldn’t predict. The master will cut them into pieces and assign them a place with the unfaithful. 47 That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. 48 The one who didn’t know the master’s will but who did things deserving punishment will be beaten only a little. Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.
Jesus used this story to remind his disciples that we are God’s servants. We are responsible to use God’s resources according to God’s will, rather than our own. His story reflected the Roman legal system where, in most cases, masters held absolute, life-and-death power over their servants. Jesus was not saying God acted just as Roman masters would. He was emphasizing the importance that we be responsible stewards of whatever God gives us.
Lord Jesus, I know what you taught about how I should relate to my possessions, and how I should use them to bless others. Give me the inner freedom to act on your teaching. Amen.
* Richard B. Vinson, study note on Luke 12:47-48 in Joel B. Green, gen. ed. The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 139 NT.
When I consider what Jesus has to say to the 1% of the world, I think about the Jesus-followers across history who warned about the dangers of power and wealth. Today we tend to assume that power and wealth provide security, the opposite of danger. Yet, along with Jesus, the Christian tradition teaches that it’s not that simple. Here are two examples:
These stories illustrate Jesus’ message that power and wealth can become hiding places from God, where we cling to false security with closed hands and hearts. It does not have to be so! The Jesus Way is an open-handed, open-hearted life where we root our security in the One who is the Source of Life.
* adapted from Amy Oden, And You Welcomed Me: Sourcebook on Hospitality in Early Christianity, Abingdon Press, 2001.
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