|Posted by Donna Dawson on June 26, 2009 at 10:22 AM|
So ends the chapter of Matthew 24.
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
I offer a huge sigh at this point because this is the most challenging part of this whole chapter and I recognize my limits. That having been said, I will do what I can.
Jesus commands us to keep watch. I grow tired of hearing Christians say that they aren't going to think about the second coming because we aren't supposed to know the day or hour. It is as though our not knowing justifies our not being prepared. Jesus commands us to keep watch--to prepare and it is precisely because we don't know that we are to watch in anticipation. Christians have confused keeping watch with making guesses or with being apathetic about it. While we aren't to guess when he will return, we are to continually keep watch in anticipation.
Jesus goes on to use the concept of a thief breaking in and this is one of the most mis-used quotes I have read. He was not comparing himself to a thief and that his return would be like that of such a cowardly person. He was simply making a statement. If we knew someone was planning on breaking into our homes we'd be up, armed and waiting. And yet, with Christ's return imminent, we go about our daily lives as though he isn't ever going to return. In verse 44 he insists that 'so you also must be ready'. We are to be actively waiting in anticipation. If we knew a thief was going to break in but not know when, we'd go about our daily chores but with an eye constantly on the look out for the thief's appearance. How many of us go through the tasks of life with one eye on the clouds? Or do we get bogged down in the details of our tasks forgetting that he has told us to keep watch?
Jesus finishes off chapter 24 asking us who is the faithful and wise servant whom the master has put in charge. To my mind it appears he is talking about the church leaders--pastors, elders, deacons, Bible teachers. They have been left in charge of the body of believers with the responsibility of spiritually feeding them. They have been given the word, a calling, and insights into the understanding of that word and it is their charge to feed the church. And those who honour that calling will be put in charge of much in the new kingdom.
Jesus calls attention to the corruption that comes to leadership too. He acknowledges the attitude that says 'Jesus' return isn't going to happen for a long time so I will lead as I see fit'. He speaks of the abuse that has run rampant in the church. Of the power struggles and the offenses to the innocent. And this, he compares to the beatings of his fellow servants. He draws us toward the understanding of hypocracy--the corrupting of scripture. In verse 49 he refers to the servant as eating and drinking with drunkards. Could this be the apostacy in the church? The mingling of Christianity with a dabbling of half-truth here and compromise there until the servant becomes drunk with the power it brings?
But Jesus will always have the final say. He informs us that he will come on a day that he is least expected and those who have compromised his word, watered down his faith, starved others of his truth, will be cut down without mercy. Those false servants will find themselves not in the kingdom that they so blithely tried to ignore but instead in a place with the hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Oh Lord! That you would keep us true to your word and your truth.