39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.” 41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 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 punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.
Meditation: What lesson can a thief in the night teach us about the kingdom of God? Jesus loved to tell stories, many which ended with a dramatic and unexpected change of circumstances. Can you imagine a thief calling ahead to tell his victim when he would strike? The intruder strikes when he is least expected and under the cover of darkness and secrecy. Should we be surprised to see a thief making off with a great treasure left unguarded?
What does this say about the treasure which God has entrusted to you and me? When God offers us his kingdom he gives us a priceless treasure (see the parable of the treasure hidden in a field and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-46). What is this treasure of immeasurable value? The Lord Jesus himself is our treasure (Job 22:22-23) and the kingdom he offers us is a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). The Lord offers us a relationship with God the Father as his sons and daughters and the promise of eternal life as well. This treasure is of far greater value that any earthly treasure because nothing can diminish its insurpassable worth or destroy it. But it’s possible to lose this great treasure if we do not guard it with our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We can lose heaven and eternal friendship with God if we allow Satan – the deceiver and father of lies – to rob us of our faith and make us deny God’s word of truth! The Lord Jesus fortunately does not leave us on our own – he stands watch with us to guide, direct, and keep us from the snares of the evil one. Do you keep vigilant watch over the treasure which God has entrusted to you?
Jesus ends his teaching on watchfulness and vigilance with another parable about a master and his servants (similr to the parable in Matthew 24:.45-49). The storyline is similar. There is an element of surprise – the master suddenly returns home unexpectedly, probably from a long journey. He rewards the dutiful servant for his faithfulness to his master. He has performed his service with diligence and has done all that the master required of him. The master punishes the other servant who behaved wickedly. This servant was not only irresponsible – he was frequently absent from work and spent his master’s money by throwing endless parties with his friends. The wicked servant also abused his fellow workers with physical force and violence – probably to make them do the work he was supposed to do for his master. The master not only strips him of his job and a secure place to live, but removes him from the joy and fellowship of the people he lived and worked with. The wicked servant is cast into a prison of like-minded rebels, trouble-makers, thieves, and murderers. Can you imagine a place of endless quarreling, strife, hatred, envy, jealousy, and constant abuse and fighting? Should we be surprised to see the master acting with such swift judgment? After all the master is only giving back to the wicked servant what he has given to others through his abusive and irresponsible behavior. The master rewards the faithful servant with promotion, honor, and friendship, and he punishes the unfaithful servant – who stole from his master and used his position to abuse others – by removing him from his position of trust. The Lord has entrusted each one of us with his gifts and grace – the grace to love God with faithfulness, trust, and obedience – and the grace to love our neighbor as ourself. Do you want to be faithful and reliable as the Lord is faithful and trustworthy?
The Lord loves faithfulness and richly rewards those who are faithful to him. What is faithfulness? It’s keeping one’s word, promise, and commitments no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us. Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to remain faithful. He also rewards faithfulness. The joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it an awesome responsibility. The Lord expects us to make good use of the gifts and graces he gives to us. The more he gives, the more he requires. The temptation while the Master is away is to put off for tomorrow what we know the Master expects us to do today. How can we grow in faithfulness? God’s grace shows us the way. When we are faithful in the little tasks and promises we make, we learn to be faithful in the bigger and more important responsibilities and tasks entrusted to us.
The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God’s way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord’s warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory. God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.
“Lord Jesus, you have captured my heart and it is yours. Take it that I may have you alone as my treasure and joy. Make me strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and generous in love that I may seek to please you in all things and bring you glory.”
1 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, let Israel now say —
2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. 6 Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth!
7 We have escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.