When I was a young Christian, I regularly faced the temptation to live like my non-Christian friends. One thing that kept me from compromising my Christian commitment was the fear of God. God’s love and grace are powerful motivators for continuing to serve Jesus faithfully, but so is a godly fear of the coming judgment (see vv. 4–5).
Having addressed how we should use our possessions, Jesus now speaks about our ministry to one another (v. 35). The picture He paints of our life together is that of the extended household. The Master is the Lord Jesus, who is to be unquestioningly obeyed, and we are His servants. The Master has been away and these parables describe how His servants should behave in His absence (vv. 36–40).
Jesus says, in effect: live like there is no night-time. It may be midnight,but stay in your work clothes so that when the Master comes, we can be sure we are ready to greet Him (v. 36). In other words, live in a constant state of preparation for His return. Then, in one of the most remarkable pictures of the humility of Jesus, the King portrays himself as serving the servants (v. 37). What an astonishing picture of our Servant King, and our heavenly hope!
When the Master returns, He will reward those who have been serving Him faithfully (vv. 42–44). However, the focus of the parable is on the faithless servants (vv. 45–47).
Jesus will treat each of His servants individually and fairly. The servant who wilfully abuses any authority the Lord has entrusted to him will incur God’s wrath. The servant who knows the Master’s intention but does not fulfil it will receive a greater judgment. The one who is ignorant of Jesus’ will receives a lesser judgment. Clearly, there will be different levels of judgment, for “God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done’” (Romans 2:6). While the precise details of judgment may not be clear, we know the main message: be found faithful.
Let us remain confident of the salvation won for us by Christ on the cross, but let’s not presume upon His grace by not living faithfully until He comes.
What does it mean practically to live every night as if it were day (vv. 38–40)?
There is an ungodly fear which perfect love casts out (1 John 4:18). How is the godly fear which Jesus speaks about in this chapter different from that?