By Ryan Shaw
Ryan is the international lead facilitator of SVM2 and lives among the unreached.
In the last article in this series we looked at Jesus’ words in Chapter 24 of the book of Matthew. Jesus was very purposeful about the calling of His people to watchfulness over their own hearts and preparation as the days get darker.
In addition, we considered the importance of having a grasp of the things which Jesus says are coming in order to best prepare our hearts and not have them offended or cold in the day of trial.
In this article we will continue our study and look at the first of four of Jesus’ parables in chapters 24 and 25. Each of these parables focus on the two groups that will be living on the earth when Jesus returns: Those who are ready (saved) and watching and those not ready (given to idleness and not saved).
The parables that Jesus gives, teaching of the heart response to what He has clarified is to come in chapter 24, highlight these two groups dramatically. They each have the express purpose of teaching different lessons surrounding the posture God’s people are called to possess as we anticipate Christ’s return.
As those seeking to cooperate fully with God’s heart to pour out revival in this generation in order to empower and anoint message bearers to be used powerfully among the most unreached, these are important spiritual truths to meditate upon and consider.
The Faithful Servant & the Evil Servant
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.
But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming.’ “and begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of., and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.
“There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:45-51
Which Servant Are We
In chapter 24:45-51 we encounter the first of the four parables where Jesus graphically illustrates the teachings He has just laid out regarding the season of His coming. The purpose of this first parable is to teach Jesus’ true followers what it means to be ready.
The master of the house makes his servants head of his household and expects these servants to continue faithfully doing the work He has given them. In many ways this parable is focused on leadership. The “servants” represent God’s shepherds.
These are they who give “food” to the household in due season. During the time of the Master being away, will these faithfully teach and preach Christ and His word and live with eternity in mind as they wait for his return?
Or will they get sucked into the prevailing worldly attitude that what they do now really doesn’t matter in the long run because the master is gone and does not see anyway?
We see such a pattern of thinking in the Church today. We forget that the eyes of the Lord look constantly upon the righteous.
What we do, how we respond to circumstances, how faithful we are to whatever responsibility God has given us in the moment, how we spend our time, our money, what we look at, our overall attitudes and more all play a decisive role in God’s assessment.
We are in God’s internship and He is carefully watching all we do and thus these things that we do now matter greatly in His economy. What is so tremendous is that in the here and now we can repent and confess our weakness and sin and receive God’s eternal forgiveness through Christ’s shed blood.
We are in a season of great kindness and gentleness of the Lord toward those who fail and yet return humbly unto Him to receive His righteousness. As we do this and choose to change our course and give ourselves once more to being about His work in the earth, He is pleased with us.
The Condition of Faithfulness
So much is this true that the master openly rewards those in the parable who continued to “occupy” and prove faithful to His work while he was gone.
These were faithfully, and with a clear sense of accountability and loyalty, committed to their master’s business and did not let the mundane and seemingly unchanging environment about them deter them from their primary responsibilities of serving the master’s household.
Similarly, God is looking for those who are trustworthy servants who give themselves to His purposes in the earth. They are most concerned with the priorities of Christ’s kingdom.
They recognize that they will be held accountable before the Lord upon His soon and coming return for how faithfully they served Him with their time, money, abilities, relationships and other resources He has generously provided. These ones are made rulers over all His goods.
They are promoted with more responsibility because they were tested and proven faithful. This reward seems to have a dual meaning here. It can mean a promotion in spiritual responsibility in the here and now, but seems to communicate more regarding the promotion in the age to come.
These will be given much responsibility in the Kingdom to come on the earth after Christ returns in His glory to enforce His kingdom reign. It is important that we view our time on earth in such a way. It is quite literally God’s testing ground to see if we are ready recipients for promotion in His future kingdom.
The Condition for Punishment
In comparison, the reward of the evil servant is also clarified. It is severe punishment. This is a “servant” in the master’s house and thus we must identify him as a leader in God’s Church. Yet, his punishment is not based on this fact, but on an altogether separate reality.
It is based on his behavior when the master returns. He is cut off from believers and treated as a hypocrite and cast away. This is a great warning to all who are a part of the Church today. Jesus did not speak such parables to outsiders but to those on the “inside.”
He spoke them to His disciples to teach them how to decipher between the different servants working in the Master’s house. And evidently to clarify that some will not be found faithful but actually are impatient and distracted servants with self-centered motives.
The only difference between the two servants is how they are each behaving at the return of Christ. The one is considered faithful because he has shown himself to be ready through being given over to right stewardship of the purpose of God and His purposes in and through the church in the earth today.
The other has shown himself to be “evil” because he has gotten distracted and sidetracked from the things that Jesus puts priority in – loving Him passionately, pursuing the spread of His kingdom and living with eternity in mind.
This gives us great hope that we are able to choose to live differently then how we may have been doing prior. We can now repent before the Lord as He convicts us that we have not been behaving as the faithful servant.
We can pour our hearts out upon Him, knowing that He is a gracious Master and waits for us to cling to Him in order that we can be realigned with His eternal purposes.
The Ultimate Delusion
The weeping and gnashing of teeth comes as a response to the incredible surprise the evil servant has in the situation. He had no idea this is how things would play out. This represents the detrimental surprise that awaits multitudes which today are part of the Church, on the day Jesus returns.
They thought that they were secure, but found there security rested on things other then Christ Himself. These will be offended, feel betrayed and ultimately flail and weep profoundly with a sense of being treated unjustly by the Lord.
They will claim that they served in His house and were part of His Church. These things will not be so, however. Jesus’ justice is sure and backed by insurmountable love and wisdom.
Jesus is warning us through this scripture and calling us to right and faithful living focused on having a clear vision of eternity which governs all that we do “in His house.”
In Christ’s body today it is common to run across individuals who are living life from the belief that Jesus is “delaying His coming.” There is a subtle outlook that life and civilization will continue to go on as is for generations to come and the need to be so focused on His eternal will and purposes is a little far-fetched and extreme.
This would never be communicated consciously in this manner but it is an underlying inner belief that governs their responses to God and to participating in His revealed will. As a result they justify and rationalize their involvement in various petty past-times of idleness and pursuits of no eternal value whatsoever.
Instead of focusing their lives and efforts (whether directly or indirectly) on endeavors to build Christ’s kingdom in the here and now, they have been sidetracked into self-centered and self-absorbed ventures, while still claiming to be a servant of His household.
Why are these Scriptural realities important to remind ourselves as we pursue a sweeping international student mission movement today? As we seek to inspire, motivate, and mobilize the emerging generation to the responsibility before the global church of discipling every nation and people group, the teaching of this parable comes home with authority.
Jesus calls us to faithfully give our lives in submission to Him and His eternal purposes in the earth and in His global church.
The call for the emerging generation to be stirred to extravagant giving, extraordinary praying, surrendered going, and impassioned mobilizing out of abandoned devotion to Christ is a natural response to the truth in this great parable.
May we commit ourselves afresh to putting our hands to the plow with loyalty and faithfulness to what our great Master left for us to do when He ascended into heaven on that brilliant day more then 2,000 years ago.
May we shun and refuse the petty and surface level distractions that tempt us away to self-oriented purposes instead of wholehearted devotion to the God-Man Jesus Christ and to His glorious purposes in the earth today.