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The Watchful Servant

 

 

                           PART VIII: THE MISCELLANEOUS PARABLES
 
                               CHAPTER 35
 
                                      Introduction
            The  Parable  of  the Watchful Servants is found  only  in
         Luke  12:35-38.    Barclay  places  it  in  a  group with The
         Householder and the Thief  (Luke  12:39-40/Matthew  24:42-44;
         The  Faithful  and  the  Unfaithful  Servant  (Luke 12:41-46/
         Matthew  24:45-51);   and   The   Servants'   Responsibility.
         (Barclay, DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES, LUKE pp. 170 ff.).
 
The Story
                     "Be  dressed  ready  for service and
                   keep your lamps burning, like men 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.  It will be good for those  servants
                   whose  master finds them watching when he
                   comes.  I tell you  the  truth,  he  will
                   dress  himself  to  serve, will have them
                   recline at the table and  will  come  and
                   wait  on them.  It will be good for those
                   servants whose master finds  them  ready,
                   even  if  he comes in the second or third
                   watch of the night. (Luke  12:35-38,  New
                   International Version).
              The word translated servant is DOULOS,  "a  bond-slave."
           (Morgan, THE PARABLES AND METAPHORS OF  OUR  LORD,
           p.  193).   Paul  referred to himself as a bond-slave of Christ:

              In  calling himself, however, a `bondslave of Jesus
              Christ,' e.g., Rom. 1:1, the Apostle Paul intimates
              (1) that he had been formerly a bondslave of Satan,
              and (2) that, having been bought by Christ, he  was
              now  a  willing  slave,  bound  to  his new Master.
              (Vine,    VINE'S    EXPOSITORY  DICTIONARY  OF  NEW
              TESTAMENT WORDS, s.v., "Bondman, Bondmaid").

              The night watches, as they correspond to our time, were:

              First watch          6-9 p.m.
              Second watch      9-12 (Midnight)
              Third watch        12-3 a.m.
              Fourth watch       3-6 a.m.

              (BEACON BIBLE COMMENTARY, LUKE, By  Charles
              Childers,  pp. 527 ff.).

         The Interpretation
                The characters and symbols of the story, and the persons
         and things that they represent in reality are:

              1.  [Bond]-Servants      Believers
              2.  The Master           Jesus
              3.  The Master's return  Jesus' Second Coming

              Barclay  suggests  how  the  Lord should find us when he
         comes the second time:

              1.  With our work completed
              2.  At peace with our fellow-men
              3.  At peace with oneself.
                  (Barclay, DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES, LUKE pp. 170
                  ff.).
 
              The phrase in Luke 12:37, "he [Jesus] will dress himself
         to  serve"  is  literally,  "he  will  gird   himself,"   the
         translation of one Greek word, PERIDZOSETAI.  Clarke explains
         this custom in Jesus' day:
 
                     37.  HE SHALL GIRD HIMSELF.  Alluding to the
              long  garments  which  were  worn  in  the  Eastern
              countries; and which, in  travelling  and  serving,
              were  tucked  up  in their belts.  That those among
              the Romans who waited on the company at table  were
              GIRDED,  and  had  their clothes tucked up, appears
              from what Horace says, "He runs about like a girded
              waiter."  (Clarke,  COMMENTARY  ON  THE HOLY BIBLE,
              Abridged by Ralph Earle, p. 875).

              It is interesting  to  note  that  Jesus will serve  his
         followers  when  he  returns.    This  is  a role-reversal of
         Master-Servant.  The Christian willfully accepts the Lordship
         of  Christ  in this life and seeks to serve him.  When Christ
         returns,  he  will  serve  his  followers.    NOTE:  This  is
         nothing  new on Jesus' part: he served his disciples while on
         earth by a life of dedication and finally, by dying for them.
         He makes intercession for his disciples while he is away:

                   ...because  Jesus lives forever, he has a
                   permanent priesthood.   Therefore  he  is
                   able to save completely those who come to
                   God through him, because he always  lives
                   to intercede for them.  (Hebrews 7:24-25,
                   New International Version).
 

                                     Central Truth
 

                      GOD CHARGES US TO BE PREPARED FOR
                                     JESUS' SECOND COMING.
 
                                      Conclusion

                We must be constantly "tuned in" to God,  listening  for
         his direction.  As we constantly seek to do his will, we will
         be watching for the return of the Lord Jesus  Christ  and  we
         will be prepared when he arrives.   END.