The Blessed Servant (Luke 12:35-48)

During my senior year in college, my friends and I took a trip for our last spring break. These were the beginning days of cell phones before everyone had one attached to their hip. I had a cell phone, but did not bring it on the vacation. The last day of the trip my mother called my cell phone to leave me a message to remind me to call her when I got home. When she called my cell phone, somebody else answered it. She
called when my house was being robbed. The burglar took a few moments to stop looting my home to answer a phone call from my mother. Needless to say, we came home and discovered that our house was ransacked. Everyone lost a few items: stereos, TVs, money, but three of us lost our Ivy League Championship football rings which were more valuable to us than the other stolen possessions. We called the police and a detective was assigned to our case. We did not have much hope that we would ever find our rings again, but one stormy night the detective came to the door. Surrounding by darkness and lightening and with the rain pouring down, the detective came to the door wearing a trench coat. His had a hat pulled down and a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. He flashed his hand across his face wearing all three of the Ivy League Championship Rings and said, “Looking for these?” That story was by far the best thing that came out of our house being robbed, but being robbed it not a pleasant experience.

I have been robbed 7 different times in my life and none of the experiences are worth reliving. If I knew that my house was going to be robbed, I would have taken precautions to ensure that my possessions were protected. In some of the cases, I received some of my possessions back from good police work, but in every situation I experienced great loss. I was not prepared for the robbers, and because I was not prepared, I suffered great loss. There is coming a day for which we must be prepared or we will suffer great loss. There are many exhortations in Scripture about being prepared for the Day of the Lord. That Day will either bring blessings or woes upon individuals. The Day will come like a thief in the night. My prayer is that you would experience blessing on that Day when our Lord returns instead of woe. Through this text, we are going to hear the words of Jesus Christ on how to be the blessed and prepared servant on that Day. Jesus gives us two specific beatitudes in this section, and one reminder. I pray that you will heed the words of Jesus Christ and be prepared on the Day of the Lord.

The Blessed Servant is Awake for that Day

Jesus just finished his exhortation of placing one’s treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and now Jesus continues to encourage his disciples to live in light of eternity. Verses 35-40,

Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Jesus warns his disciples to be ready for the coming of the Lord. There are many illustrations in these verses that help us understand what it means to be awake.

Jesus says, “stay dressed for action.” During this period most men wore long robes with a belt around the waist. This pictures one whose robe is pulled up so he would be ready to move quickly. Likewise, Jesus encourages the disciples to keep their lamps burning so they would be ready to move in darkness. Both images encourage people to live in expectation of Christ’s return. We live with a watchful eye towards heaven so that when our master comes home we will be ready to open the door and welcome him in.

Jesus provides a beatitude in verse 37, “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he
comes.” He reiterates the same principle in the next verse, “If he comes in the second watch or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants.” Jesus is not referring to mere happiness, but eternal happiness at the end of time. This whole passage speaks of the Day of the Lord. Those who are awake and alert and ready for the Lord’s return, waiting with a watchful eye to heaven will be blessed eternally. The end of verse 37 spells out this blessing, “Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table, and he will come and serve them.” Jesus is alluding to the great marriage supper of the Lamb where all of God’s people gather to be with Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:9, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

Are you awake? Are you living in light of eternity? Lift your eyes to heaven and live with an eye towards eternity. For if your mindset is, “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” If you live as if this is your final home, then Jesus says to you, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” The Son of Man is coming. You cannot avoid this reality. Everything in the Scriptures points to that Day when Jesus Christ will return. If you want to be blessed on that day, you must be awake, alert, ready for action with your lamps burning.

My wife and I were watching a movie about World War II. As we watched the movie, there was a scene when the bomb siren sounded and my wife asked, “Can you imagine living like that?” Can you imagine living under the constant threat of destruction? Most Americans do not know this reality, but there are some in our congregation who have served in war. I spoke to Robert Baker this week, who served in Afghanistan, and he explained that there were many missions where nothing happened. He would go on mission after mission where nothing happened until bam! His unit would walk right into a firefight. There were long periods of boredom, but then in an instant extreme moments of terror. Soldiers always have to be ready for battle. Beloved, we must always keep a watchful eye towards heaven. We cannot fall into the routine of life and boredom, but we must be ready. We will be blessed if we are awake on that Day, ready for the Lord’s return.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, the Bible says there is a day coming when God is going to judge the earth. Are you ready? Those who are not ready will suffer great loss. Do not delay in preparing for that Day. Jesus came and died in the place of sinners. He rose from the dead to give us hope on that day. Come to Jesus Christ and be ready for that Day!! Without Jesus Christ, you will have to answer for your sins, and will suffer great loss. Wake up to the reality that God is a righteous Judge and has to punish sin. He, who has ears, let him hear.

Beloved, Jesus did not only warn those who weren’t ready, but all his disciples as well. In verse 41, “Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable to us or for all?” Jesus answered by showing the second aspect of a blessed servant.

The Blessed Servant is Abiding for that Day

Jesus does not only want us to be awake and ready for his return, but he wants to be living in obedience as we wait. Verses 42-44,

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.”

We see the second beatitude in verse 43 of the blessed servant who is doing what he master has charged him to do. God wants his children to abide in him. This is so crucial for the church because if we do not obey the Lord, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Listen to Romans 8:12-14,

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

If we do not die to our flesh, we prove ourselves to be outside the kingdom of God for those who live according to the flesh will die.

Pastor, isn’t legalistic to say that our obedience allows us into heaven? Yes, that is legalistic, but that is not what I said. Our obedience does not allow us into heaven, but our obedience proves that we are led by the
Spirit of God by faith. Our obedience proves that we have been crucified with Christ. Our obedience proves that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. We prove that the life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us. We do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose (Galatians 2:20-21). Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

If your life is characterized by sin, then you are most likely outside of the faith and will not inherit the kingdom of God and are not ready for the Lord’s return. No one who makes a practice of sinning has either seen God or known God. Jesus explains this through the parable of the unfaithful, unwise manager in verse 45 and following,

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.

The person who lives an immoral life without any regard to God will face the wrath and fury of Almighty God (Romans 2:8). This person does not do what his master tasks him to do, but says, “I can get away with this now because the master is not coming back for some time.” It is similar to the person saying that I will have time in the future to get my life right with God, but the master will come when you do not expect Him and an hour you do not know and will cut you to pieces and place you with the unfaithful.

Beloved, we live in an age when cheap grace has been promised to an entire generation of people. If you would only pray this prayer and walk this aisle, and put your faith in Jesus, you will be safe for all eternity. Beloved, that is not the gospel. You must put your faith in Jesus AND you must repent of your sins. You must continue to repent of your sins demonstrating that you love Jesus Christ more than your sin. If people continue to live a life of sin, they have not heard or believed in the gospel of the Bible. Jesus deserves more than a dead faith. He deserves are whole life.

Jesus is so glorious and so merciful. He died your death. The blameless Son of God took your blame on Calvary. The sinless Savior became your sin so you could be righteous. The Holy One was cursed on a tree so that He could remove your curse and you could be holy. And after dying your death, he conquered the grave securing your victory in being the firstborn of many brothers. Beloved, do you think that God is satisfied with a cheap faith without works? Do you think God is pleased with preachers who promise eternal life without repentance? It is a false gospel. Beloved, Jesus Christ bled and died so you could die to your sin and live by the Spirit, for all who are led by the Spirit are sons and daughters of God. The message of the gospel is that we must repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ.

The blessed servant is one that is found doing what the master told him to do when he returns. There will be many false converts on the Day of the Lord who knew what they were supposed to do, but chose to live contrary to his will. And on that Day, the Lord will say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:23).” Depart from me you who did not live by God’s law. Depart from me you who were not ready. Depart from me you did not abide in and obey me. Are you ready for that Day?

Friend, I plead with you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to repent of your sins. I implore you to turn from the false hope of a dead faith without righteousness. I implore you to love Jesus more than your sin. I want to you to be ready on that Day. I want you to know that you are in the faith. Please take today to truly repent and believe. Christian, if there is unrepentant sin in your life, I plead with to turn from it. Are you addicted to pornography? Are you harboring bitterness in your heart against someone in the family of faith? Are you stingy towards God and others with your money and possessions? Are you a covenant member of a local church or actively pursuing covenant membership in a local church? Are you full of discontentment? Are you a gossip or a slanderer? Are you greedy? God takes sin very seriously. Feel the weightiness of Jesus’ words in this passage.

Jesus closes this section with a reminder to his disciples and a reminder to all of us.

The Blessed Servant is Accountable on that Day

Everyone will be held accountable according to their own life and knowledge. All sin is sin, but not all sin will be punished the same way. Different individuals will face different degrees of punishment based on their knowledge of the Lord. Verses 12:47-48,

And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Jesus explains that the intensity of the punishment will be determined according to one’s knowledge of God’s will. The one who knew God’s Will and did not act accordingly will receive a more severe punishment. And the one who did not know God’s will still will be punished, albeit to a lesser degree. Punishment will be determined based on one’s knowledge of God’s will. This is why James says that those who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1). Teachers are held to a higher standard because of their knowledge and the potential to lead people astray from God.

Jesus says, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” What does the much refer to here? It could refer to different gifts and talents, but in the context it is referring to one’s knowledge of God’s will. Everyone who has been given the gospel of repentance and faith, who knows his will, will face a greater judgment for their disobedience.

This means that everyone who is sitting here today and listening to this message will bring further wrath upon themselves if, after hearing clearly God’s expectation, you close your ears and do not repent. You have been given much; therefore, much more will be required of you. You have been entrusted with much; therefore, you face a greater demand from God. It is a dangerous thing to go to church and not to respond to the preaching of God’s holy and inerrant Word. Romans 2:5 states, “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Hardening your heart to God’s Word and not obeying it stores up wrath for you on the day of the Lord’s return. You will not be blessed on that day, but will suffer great loss.

Beloved, this passage is very heavy and very serious. God has high expectations for his people. There will be a stricter judgment for those who have been given much in that they know God’s will, but do not obey it. In the words of Jesus, they will receive a severe beating. These words are particularly poignant for the leaders in the church. Pastors and deacons who have been entrusted with the care of the church will face a greater judgment, as they are responsible for the Master’s house until his return. This is why I preach these words of warning, 2 Tim 4:1-2, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word.” I preach the Word of God because Jesus is coming back. Some sermons are heavier than others because some texts are heavier than others. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for your soul. Peter also exhorts elders as a fellow elder to focus on the glory that is going to be revealed in 1 Peter 5. After laying out the conduct of an elder/pastor, he says in verse 4, “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

As much as there is a stricter judgment for those whom have been entrusted much, there is also great reward in being a faithful steward of what the Lord has given. Matthew 25:29, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.” Jesus wants his servants to be awake and abiding so that they would be called blessed on that Day. We must live in view of that Day. Are you awake? Are you abiding? You will be accountable so get ready. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Fix your eyes to Heaven and get ready.