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The Servants' Responsibility


                      PART VIII:   THE MISCELLANEOUS PARABLES

                          CHAPTER 38
 

                           Introduction
               The Parable of the Servants' Responsibility is found in
                 Luke 12:47-48.

                               The Story

  "That servant who knows his master's
 will  and  does not get ready or does not
 do what his master wants will be beaten
 with many blows.   But the one who does
 not know and does things deserving
 punishment will 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.  (Luke 12: 47-48, New
                        International Version).

                                               

           The Interpretation
                    The master represents God.  The servant represents the
              Christian. Clarke comments on the Jewish custom of whipping:

              47. SHALL BE BEATEN WITH MANY STRIPES.
              Criminals  among  the Jews could not be beaten with
              more than forty stripes; and as this was the sum of
              the  severity  to which a whipping could extend, it
              may be all that our Lord here means.  But, in  some
              cases,  a  man  was  adjudged  to receive fourscore
              [eighty] stripes!  How could this be, when the  law
              had  decreed  only  forty?  Answer: By doubling the
              crime.  He received forty for  each  crime;  if  he
              were  guilty    of  two  offenses, he might receive
              fourscore.

              48.  SHALL BE BEATEN WITH FEW.  For petty
              offenses the Jews in many cases inflicted so few as
              four, five, and six stripes.

              From this and the preceding verse we find that
              it is a crime to be ignorant of God's will, because
              to everyone God has given less or more of the means
              of  instruction.  (Clarke, COMMENTARY ON THE HOLY
              BIBLE, Abridged by Ralph Earle, p. 875).

               Jesus'  hearers  would understand the Jewish  punishment
             for  disobedience.   They would also understand the same type
             of punishment that masters  would  inflict  on  their  slaves
             (servants).  Morris applies the parable to Christians:
 
              1.  Responsibility rests on those who have received
                  much.  (Jonah 4:11; Amos 3:2).

              2.  Men  will  be punished for failing to do right,
                  as well as for doing wrong.  (James 4:17).

              3.  Why are people punished who sin  in  ignorance?
                  There  is  no  such  thing  as  absolute  moral
                  ignorance.

                   (Romans 1:20; 2:14-15).  (R. G.  V. Tasker,  TYNDALE
                 NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARIES,  LUKE, by Leon
                 Morris, pp. 218-219).
 
                Farrar comments, ...  there is no such thing as absolute moral
                ignorance.  ...punishment shall be PROPORTIONAL to sin....
                They  who knew not will not of course be punished for any
                INVOLUNTARY ignorance, but only for actual misdoing.
                (Carr,  CAMBRIDGE GREEK TESTAMENT FOR SCHOOLS
                AND COLLEGES, LUKE, by F.  W.  Farrar,  pp. 280-281).

                 Childers comments further:

               Greater  LIGHT,  ABILITY,  AND OPPORTUNITY
               mean greater responsibility.  (BEACON BIBLE COMMENTARY,
               LUKE, By Charles Childers,  p. 530).

         THERE  ARE  DEGREES OF GUILT.  Only God can be the
       true judge because in him there is absolute objectivity.  He alone has
       exhaustive  knowledge  of  right and wrong.  Degrees of guilt
       are ABSOLUTE, whereas degrees of CULPABILITY are relative.
 
         THERE ARE DEGREES OF CULPABILITY.  Only God can
       be the true judge  because he is omniscient  (all knowledge and all
       wisdom).   People may do bad things and yet have diminished
       responsiblity or culpability because of a lack of  knowledge,
       or low IQ, or mental illness.
 
         THERE IS CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE.  This entails truth
       we are held  accountable for, even though we do not know it, but
       could have know it if we had:

        (1) Read the Bible; and
        (2) Walked in the light God would have shown us.

        Here are three examples to illustrate the above three points:
 

        (1)   A man murders another man in a jealous rage.  He is
        convicted of murder and serves prison  time.  Another
        man deliberately rapes and murders two women.  He is
        convicted of rape and premeditated murder  and  is  executed.
        These two men are both guilty.  The first man killed one man.
        The second man  raped and killed  two  women.

        (2)  A mother  backs her car over her child and kills it because
        she did not  see the child.  She is GUILTY of  killing her child.
        The child is just as dead as if someone had murdered it.

        However, the mother is griefstricken and in anguish,  because
        she  loved her child so much that she would have gladly given
        her life for the child.  She is not CULPABLE because she  did
        not  know her child was behind the car.  She does not have to
        serve jail time.

        (3) A man is driving his car and his brakes fail.  He hits
        a pedestrian and kills him.  The driver is GUILTY of killing
        the pedestrian.  The driver is very sorry--he did not deliberately
        kill the pedestrian.  During the trial, it is pointed out that the
        driver knew that his brakes were bad and had put off not having
        them repaired.  The driver is found CULPABLE to some degree
        because of his negligence.  He is convicted of manslaughter,
        is sentenced, and must serve some time in jail.

                             Central Truth
         WE ARE RESPONSIBLE TO OBEY GOD AND WE   
                                      WILL BE HELD
                     ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR ACTIONS.
 

                                        Conclusion

        We need to be very careful to obey our Heavenly Father. What we
           do or fail to do affects many other  people. Much personal suffering
           and suffering of others could be avoided if we simply would obey the
           Lord.  What we do will not only affect those who are now living, but
           those who may be born in the future!  END.