The Faithful and Wise Servant
Comments for Study 25
Memory Verse: 42
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I. A Faithful Servant's Readiness (35-48)
>1. What does it mean to "be dressed ready for service"?
* Luke 12:35 "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,"
* Jesus' teaching here is only recorded by Luke. Jesus had been occasionally referencing his second coming when teaching something else. (i.e. Luke 8:18; 9:26; 10:12, 14; 11:31; 12:3-5, 8-10, 12:32; See chart to the right.) He had not made it the main focus of a teaching. Now Jesus begins making his return, especially our wait for his return the main focus of some of his teaching and parables.
Jesus is on his way to Judea and Jerusalem for the last time. As the time to his leaving gets shorter the frequency of teachings concerning his second coming increases. The main focus of Jesus' teaching about the future of his disciples isn't the timing of his return, as so many modern Christian eschatology books and preaching focus on. Rather, its our readiness for it. That was also the intent of the manuscript "The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires" found on this web site.
* Jesus had told people to seek his kingdom (Luke 12:31) and that his disciples would receive the kingdom. (Luke 12:32) The thought is continued in the teachings that follow.
* "be dressed ready for service" -A servant in a rich person's house puts on a uniform so that when something is needed they can do what is asked of them. When the owner is away the good servant is still always dressed and ready for service. Similarly, a good soldier is always ready to be called for a mission. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
* Jesus uses an illustration from the then Orient. When a bridegroom was ready to marry he would have prepared a home to raise a family in and hired some servants to keep this ready for him. Then he would go out, meet with his bride, marry her, have a banquet, and then return to his home with her. The servants would wait for his return and always be ready to be called to service.
* The modern believer often equates this passage with waiting for Jesus' second coming. However, some scholars have taught that the disciples would not have that in mind when he taught this and therefore this passage really is about being ready for a crisis, not his second coming. These scholars forget that the apostles hadn't even accepted his betrayal, arrest, sufferings, death, and resurrection. And yet Jesus taught them these things none the less knowing that later they would understand and accept them. So just because they didn't understand it at the time doesn't mean that we can't assume that Jesus is teaching about what we should be like as we await his coming.
* Jesus parable has us looking to a future event and kingdom. Some say that Jesus is talking about a heavenly idealized spiritual kingdom. However, the Scriptures and Jesus himself refer to a earthbound kingdom coming in the future. He is preparing it now by calling people to join him and his invitation to be in it when it is established. To those who accept Jesus, he prepares their hearts for the establishing of his kingdom. He will come and establish it in the near future. We should always look forward to it, readying ourselves for service in his kingdom.
* Being ready is accepting in the mind and heart, and being prepared in the body to serve.
>What does it mean to "keep our lamps burning"?
* "keep your lamps burning" -Continuing the thought that Jesus is using an illustration from the then Orient, often the wedding banquet would last until dark. So the servants would have to light a lamp so that their master and his bride could see as they made their way home. The lamps would also enable the master to see that his servants are ready for service.
* The thought here is that even though the master is long in coming we still should never waver in being prepared.
* Keeping a lamp burning requires having enough oil, enough wicks, and continually trim the wick so that it could draw oil from a full well, and thus keep the flame burning.
* The picture of the lamp to the right is courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority. It is part of the dead sea scrolls finds. This type of lamp was found in strata associated with Herod's reign (37-4 B.C.E.). A similar lamp was uncovered in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, in strata dating to the destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.E.), thus raising questions as to the date of the lamp. Characteristic features of this lamp type are a circular wheel-made body, a flat unmarked base, and a large central filling hole. The spatulate nozzle was hand-built separately and later attached to the body. Traces of a palm-fiber wick were found in the lamp's nozzle.
>What kind of attitude does Jesus want us to have?
* Jesus wants us to be ready. It is a common parable theme relating to his second coming. (Matthew 22:14, 25:10-13; Luke 12:35; Titus 3:1; Revelation 19:7) We can be ready by having everything prepared for our service to come even if we don't know what will be asked of us.
* Are you ready? Are you preparing yourself for a future in Jesus' kingdom? Or is your mind and heart on things of this world only? Are you serving yourself or Jesus?
* How do we keep ourselves ready? Prayer, Bible study, trust, and obedience to Jesus' words.
* Faith, hope, and love are key to being ready.
* Numbers 8:11 "Aaron is to present the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the LORD."
* Joshua 1:10-11 "So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: "Go through the camp and tell the people, 'Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.'"
* 1 Samuel 25:39-42 "When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, "Praise be to the LORD, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal's wrongdoing down on his own head." Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, "David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife." She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, "Here is your maidservant, ready to serve you and wash the feet of my master's servants." Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five maids, went with David's messengers and became his wife.
>2. Why should we be like these? (36b)
* Luke 12:36b "so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him."
* "so that when he come" -Jesus implies that the servant never knew when the master was coming until he arrived.
* "he knocks" -The master owned the house and the servants were his. Yet, he did not barge into the house.
* "immediately open the door for him" -If they weren't ready or were sleeping the opening of the door would have been delayed.
>Who is the master we are waiting for? (40)
* Luke 12:40 "You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
* "You also must be ready" -Jesus clearly states the parable is about his disciples being ready.
* "Son of Man" -Jesus often called himself the Son of Man. (13:37, 12:40, 12:32, ect.) Dan 3:25, 7:13, 10:5-6 all refer to the Messiah as the Son of Man. Jesus was indeed man, fully flesh undergoing all the aspects of humanity.
>Will we know when he will come?
* Luke 12:38b "even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night."
* "at an hour when you do not expect him" -Jesus said this to his disciples including the apostles. We will not expect him. Why? Many who claim to be Christian now are not ready even though they say they believe he will come. A person who is not ready is a person who does not expect Jesus to return.
* If an angel came to you and said, "Jesus is coming in one week. Get ready," would you change anything in your life? What would you stop doing? What would you start doing? Would you change the way you are doing something? Answering these questions should help you see if you are ready for Jesus or not.
* Jesus is clearly telling us that there is going to be a delay in his coming. He even implies it will be much longer than the disciples expect.
* "second or third watch of the night" -There were only three watches according to Judges 7:19, though the Roman army had four watches. Jesus is saying his coming is way into the early hours, much longer than a normal wait for such occasions.
* The teaching of immanence as it is believed now, that is that Jesus could have come at any time immediately since his ascension, goes against Jesus' teaching here.
>How does Jesus use wedding customs of his day to illustrate this teaching? (36a)
* Luke 12:36a "like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet"
* Jesus used things in this world that his audience could relate to and had experienced and/or seen to illustrate a spiritual principle or an event that would happen in the future. (John 3:12)
* "a wedding banquet" -In the days of Jesus, for the Jew, a wedding was one of the few bright and joyful times in a person's life. The occupied Jewish nation found little to be joyous about. A wedding was one of those joyful events.
* This is not the only parable Jesus used a wedding to illustrate his second coming. (Matthew 22:1-14)
* "like" -Jesus used the custom of the kings in those days to make his point. Jesus uses a parable, also called a similitude. He is using thinks we can relate to to help explain God's kingdom.
>3. After calling his disciples friends in verse 4 and his flock in verse 32 what is he calling them in these verses?
* "servants" -Jesus uses many terms to describe those who believe in him. Here he calls us servants. We serve God. Paul often started his letters by calling himself God's servant. (Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1) So did James, Peter, and Jude. (James 1:1; and 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1)
* A servant belongs to the master. A servant can earn a salary, though sometimes they are bought being a slave. A servant has no rights in the master's house unless the master gives them. A servant owns no possessions unless the master gives them. A servant does not look after his or her affairs. A servant has tasks. A servant puts the master's will first. A servant can leave a master's service, though often cannot do so without the master's permission. Jesus himself is the suffering servant fulfilling God's will as described in Isaiah 40-55. (Matthew 12:14-21; Luke 4:18-19; Acts 3:13, 4:27-30)
>What are the two things that will be good for Jesus' servants? (37a, 38a)
* Luke 12:37a "It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes."
* Luke 12:38a "It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready"
* "finds them watching" -Wanting his return to come, but not knowing when he will.
* "finds them ready" -Jesus repeats this three times in these two parables. How ready does he mean? Always ready. See above for more.
* Watching and being ready does not equate to his return being immanent.
* Matthew 19:28-30 "Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."
* The acts of the servant is what will be looked at when Jesus comes again. See verse 43 too.
>What does he promise? (37b)
* Luke 12:37b "I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them."
* Jesus states that at his coming the tables will be turned. Those who serve him, he will serve them.
* We serve now, but when he comes we will reline and rest.
* John 9:4 "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work."
* 1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
>4. What is Jesus' second coming compared to in verse 39?
* Luke 12:39 "But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into."
* "If the owner of the house" -The owner of the house in this parable is the devil. The house is his kingdom. His kingdom includes other fallen angles now called demons and devils. They believe in him and his lies. The devil has taken captive the human race. They are captives in his kingdom, his slaves. (John 8:34) They are willing slaves, believing his lies and hating the truth. (John 8:44-47, 14:15-17; Romans 1:18, 25, 2:8)
* "had known what hour the thief was coming" -Jesus is the thief going into the devil's kingdom to take from him. The devil knows that Jesus is coming to take his slaves away.
* Matthew 24:42-44 "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."
* Matthew 13:37-43 brings greater understanding to what Jesus is saying of here.
* Jesus will come again soon. He will not be expected by the devil nor those in his kingdom because things will continue as they have been until suddenly Jesus will come. Jesus will judge the nations and set up his kingdom on earth at that time. All those who believe in him will be a part of his kingdom. Jesus will have taken then out of slavery in Satan's kingdom and bring them into his kingdom. (Daniel 2:44)
* 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 "Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness."
* 2 Peter 3:10 "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."
* Those who look forward to Jesus' coming will not be surprised.
* Having a love relationship with Jesus leads us to study his word so that we know about his work and are thus not surprised by what he does including his secomd coming.
>How does this help us to be faithful servants?
* Knowing that Jesus is coming again inspires us to work for him now.
* Knowing that we have a great future planned out by a God who loves us helps us endure the troubles of this world.
* Jesus said that life before he comes will not be easy. Yet we are to take heart because he has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
* We can keep our eyes on the prize set before us. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:14)
* Jesus told us that there will be opposition to the work he has set us to do. Yet, the enemy who opposes us will be defeated. Jesus has won the battle for our souls. He will win the battle for the earth. His kingdom will endure. Satan's kingdom will fall.
>5. How did Peter respond to Jesus' teaching about the attitude of a faithful servant?
* Luke 12:41 "Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?"
* "to us" -Some say Peter is only including the apostles when he says "us" here. Others say that he is referring to all believers. Verse 22 says Jesus was talking to "his disciples". A disciple follows a teacher and master to learn and to emulate. Jesus had just said, "You also." (40) Jesus was still directly talking to his disciples. Jesus is obviously talking to all his disciples.
* "everyone" -Depending on who you believe "to us" refer to is how you interpret "everyone".
* Jesus' answer helps us understand Peter's question. Jesus did not answer Peter directly. Rather, he gives another parable. The characters in the parable are faithful and wise managers. Yet they are still servants, not masters themselves. Servants have a lowly position in Jesus' day as is today.
>Why did he ask this question?
* Peter was confused. Perhaps, he did not understand Jesus' parable. Or perhaps he understood it but just didn't know who Jesus was talking to. No matter which he asked who this was for. At this time Peter and the other disciples didn't understand and believe Jesus would die and then come again after a long time. So in this respect Peter's confusion is understandable.
* Perhaps Peter could not see Jesus as a thief. Peter did not understand that Satan's kingdom was being robbed by Jesus.
* Perhaps and most likely Peter could not see himself as a servant dressed ready for service. He and the rest of the apostles constantly argued about who was first in his kingdom because they wanted to be served. They did not want to serve. Thus Jesus always rebuked them when they argued about being first with exhortations on serving. (Matthew 18:1-4, 20:24-28; Mark 9:33-35, 10:45; Luke 9:46-48, 22:24-30)
>6. What three kinds of people does Jesus describe in his answer to Peter?
* Luke 12:42-48 "The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and 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 is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
* "the faithful and wise manager" -Roman culture and law allowed an outstanding slave was sometimes put in charge of the master's estate. God's desire is for people who trust him to the point where they put themselves in his service, living and working for his kingdom. We have a duty to fulfill our responsibility to God. We have made a vow to God and we must keep it.
* "who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants" -This person believes that God exists, but does not obey him and his will.
* "who does not know and does things deserving punishment" -This person has been revealed very little about God. No one has been reveal nothing about God. Yet not all have been revealed the same amount. This person has been revealed little and refused to accept and/or react to what he has been told about God.
* Matthew 24:45-51 places the same teaching during the Mount of Olives discourse.
* "he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants" - The manager began thinking that he was the master. He placed himself in the position of master. He beat others to get them to do his and their work and to keep his position. The sinful nature leads fallen mankind to mistreate others when in leadership positions.
* "and to eat and drink and get drunk" -He totally stops his duties and only enjoys the pleasures of this life. Are you about the master's duty at all? Or are you only enjoying the pleasures of this life? Enjoying life is OK as long as we don't neglect our duties in Jesus' kingdom. (Ephesians 4:16, Philippians 1:6, Colossiansians 3:23, 2 Timothy 3:10, 3 John 1:8)
>What rewards are promised the first?
* Luke 12:44 "I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions."
* The promise here is for this age and the age to come. Right now we have responsibilities. God's greatest possessions are his people. We have a responsibility to serve God's people, not like the world serves. Rather we are to serve like Jesus serves.
* Jesus promises a reward for those who have been faithful to the Master. While we sometimes experience immediate and material rewards for our obedience to God, this is not always the case. If so, we would be tempted to boast about our achievements and only do good for what we get. Jesus said that if we look for rewards now, we will lose them later (Matthew 8:36). Our heavenly rewards will be the most accurate reflection of what we have done on earth, and they will be far greater than we can imagine. (Life Application Study Bible)
>How are the other two are punished?
* "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers." -The most severe punishment listed here.
* "will be beaten with many blows." -A slightly lower punishment.
* "will be beaten with few blows." -The lowest punishment listed here.
* Those who claim to be Christians, but do not know Jesus refuse to believe that this will happen.
* 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 "All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you."
* Three grades of punishment that the judge will mete out in proportion to both the privileges each person has enjoyed and his response to those privileges. (NIV Study Bible)
* Romans 2:12-16 agrees with this passage.
* 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 "So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."
>How does this parable answer Peter's question?
* "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked"
* Peter wanted to know if Jesus' teaching about being a servant was for everyone, including the apostles. Jesus' answer was that we all have a responsibility to God. God reveals himself to everyone and everyone has to decide to accept and obey or not.
Jesus also reveals that to those who more has been revealed more is expected. As our love relationship to God grows and increases if we allow it. As it does so our response to his love for us should be acts of love.
* Make two columns on a piece of paper. On one side list all God's promises to his people. On the other side list all the commandments, especially those in the New Testament. See what God has done and will do for you. Then see how you are fulfilling your responsibilities.
* "My master is taking a long time in coming," -Jesus often told us the same thing in parables about his return; the nobleman who went to a far country, the servants given talents while their master is away, the ten virgins, etc. The letters of the apostles also address the timing of Jesus' return. Many who call themselves Christians believe in immanence, that is, that Jesus can return at any time since his ascension. Is this in line with Jesus' parables? And what of claim that the gospel must be preached in the whole world before he came again? This did not happen until recent years. Below is a quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry in chapter 3 under the heading "Expectation and Imminence".
* If the second coming could not have been imminent for those originally commanded to watch at the time they were so commanded, then the commanded expectancy could not have implied imminence of the event looked for. It then becomes unnecessary for us to regard Jesus' coming as imminent, for we have received no further and no different exhortations. In other words, if a delay in the Parousia of at least several years was compatible with expectancy in apostolic times, a delay for the several years of the tribulation is compatible with expectancy in current times. Jesus clearly indicates to the early disciples that His coming will be delayed for some time. The express purpose of the parable concerning the nobleman who went to a "far country" is that the disciples should not think "the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately" (Luke 19: 11-27). "While the bridegroom was delaying" also intimates delay (Matt. 25:5). In the parable of the talents, Jesus likens His return to the lord who "after a long time" came back from a far country (Matt. 25:19).
Jesus bases the parable of the servants on the presupposition of a delay in His coming, for without the delay no interval would have provided opportunity for the servants to display their true colors (Luke 12:41-48; Matt. 24:45-51). And when Jesus has the wicked servant say, "My master will be a long time in coming," He tacitly admits that there will be a delay. As the wicked servant's eternal judgment "with the unbelievers (or hypocrites)" shows, the contrast in servants distinguishes true disciples, whose characteristic it is to watch, from false disciples, whose characteristic it is not to watch. The necessary delay made no difference to the expectant attitude of the true servant, but it revealed the falsity of the wicked servant. Jesus does not condemn recognition of delay, but the attitude which takes selfish advantage of the delay. Moreover, readiness denotes not so much tiptoe anticipation as faithful service day by day: "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes" (Luke's version).
We might suppose that the long period of delay required in the parables would be satisfied by "a few years." But a few years is all the delay post-tribulationism requires. Jesus could not have given in good faith the great commission with its worldwide extent -"all the nations" and "the remotest part of the earth" -without providing a considerable lapse of time in order that the "disciples might have opportunity to perform the task. The long-range missionary endeavors of Paul may not possess independent argumentative weight (Paul's journey to Rome was contingent on the Lord's will, Rom. 1:9, 10). Yet as the Lord's commission for him to go "far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22: 21) and to witness before "kings" (Acts 9:15) and as the promise in Jerusalem that he would "witness... at Rome" (Acts 23:11; cf. 27:24) link up with the great commission generally, they gain considerable weight.
It may be countered, with an appeal to Paul's statement "the gospel... was proclaimed in all creation under heaven" (Col. 1:23), that "the extensive preaching of the gospel in the first century might... satisfy the program of preaching to the ends of the earth." However, Paul wrote his statement during his first Roman imprisonment, some thirty years after Jesus gave the great commission, an interval more than four times as long as the tribulation. And Paul had not fulfilled his intention of visiting Spain, where the Gospel had not yet been preached (Rom. 15:20, 24). Evidently he himself did not regard the great commission as fulfilled. Apparently, then, in Colossians 1:23 Paul is not affirming a fulfillment of the great commission, but is setting the universality of the Gospel (the good news is for all men, even though it has not reached all men) in opposition to the esotericism of the Colossian heresy.
Of corroborative value is the personal history of Peter (John 21:18-19; and 2 Peter 1:14). Jesus foretold that Peter, then middle-aged ("when you were younger ... "), would die at an infirm old age ("when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you ... "). If we try to save the imminence of the Parousia by saying that Peter could have been martyred at any time, we forget that his infirmity and old age were not imminent. And if we say that the prediction concerning Peter was not common knowledge among Christians until long after his death, we overlook the presence of other apostles on the occasion of the prediction. Furthermore, John writes of the incident in order to correct a misimpression which had arisen concerning his own death. The whole matter, then, must have received some publicity in the early Church.
To claim that these delays were "general in nature, without specific length;" merely avoids the issue. Whether general or specific, long or short, the delays were delays and, by being stated, rendered the second coming non-imminent to the apostolic Church. Moreover, the delays were not entirely general in nature. The specificity of the great commission ("in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"), of the promise that Paul should bear witness at Rome, and of Peter's old age as a time of infirmity to the degree of inability to dress himself make the delays much more pointed than the doctrine of imminence can allow.
Again, to claim that "the delays had been fulfilled by the time the exhortations to watch were written" runs afoul of historical facts. At least those exhortations to watch in the epistles appeared in writing before the disciples could have fulfilled the great commission, before Paul had completed his extensive missionary efforts, and before Peter had reached old age, become infirm, and died. From the very beginning, even before the written exhortations, Christians knew that they were to watch through the oral ministry of Jesus and the apostles and prophets. In one of his earliest epistles Paul already commends believers for their watchfulness (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). The point remains that if watching could not have connoted imminence in the apostolic age, it need not connote imminence now.
But should we not think that all else was contingent upon the second coming, that an "only if Christ does not return beforehand" qualified every other expectation? Possibly, but only possibly, in connection with the personal circumstances of Peter and Paul. It is very hard to think, however, that an imminent return of Christ might have taken away sufficient opportunity to fulfill the great commission. Moreover, when imminence becomes the ruling principle by which all else was and is rendered contingent, even the events of the tribulation do not have to take place; they might "die on the vine" just as the great commission and the predictions concerning Paul and Peter would have done had Jesus returned beforehand.
* This ends the quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry.
II. Not Peace But Division (49-53)
>7. Why did Jesus say he had come?
* Luke 12:49 "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!"
* "I have come" -Meaning the Father sent him and he came in obedience. God specifically wanted Jesus to come to the earth.
* "how I wish it were already kindled" -Jesus is stating that the fire he was sent to start had not started when he told this to his disciples. It was coming, but had not started.
* The fruits of labor are often seem after the work is completed. Often we have to wait awhile to see the labor complete itself. Such was also the case with Jesus. He worked hard for over three years. After which the powerful raging results were stated and realized.
>What does he mean by "fire on the earth"?
* "fire on the earth" -The fire here is not the chemical reaction that results in light and heat. Rather this is a descriptive word used to describe an ongoing action/reaction to come after Jesus completed his work. What was that work; preaching, teaching, raising disciples, the cross, his resurrection, his ascension, or the work of the Holy Spirit he would send? Theologians have taken the fire here to refer to any one and several of these.
* After Jesus death and resurrection he sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit took the seed that Jesus planted and acted to quickly spread it all over the world. His work was and is like a violent altering consuming fire. Luke 3:16 reveals more. Matthew 3:11 is the same. It says, "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Keys to "fire" being the Holy Spirit is that Jesus wanted it to come, being God's nature which is always good; and Jesus places this after his death; and Jesus was just talking about his disciples responsibilities; and Jesus sates that he is distressed until it is completed; and finally Jesus uses "basptism" as a descriptive word for his suffering and death, the second part his this bi-fold revelation.
* Often the gospel brings division because of the different ways that it is received.
* The fire that Jesus is speaking of continues still.
* Jesus has been teaching about two reactions to God. These reactions are opposing each other. They were evident in his ministry, so perhaps Jesus is not speaking of this. He is also teaching about judgment falling on those who are not wise and faithful managers, that is those who reject God. Judgment falls on the wicked, who are separated from the righteous. So some say the fire here is referring to judgement.
* Are you a fire fighter, trying to put the fire of the Holy Spirit out? Or are you a fire spreader?
>And "a baptism to undergo"? (50)
* Luke 12:50 "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!"
* "But I have a baptism to undergo" -Thus Jesus is saying the fire he has come to start will not take place until after this baptism.
* "baptism" -The baptism to yet come in Jesus' physical life was his cross. (Matthew 10:38)
* "how distressed I am until it is completed" -What distressed Jesus? The only thing that the gospels say Jesus was distressed about was lack of faith. (Mark 3:5) Jesus was also distressed on the Mount of Olives just before his arrest. (Mark 14:33)
>8. What did Jesus mean when he said that he did not come to bring peace on the earth, but divisions?
* Luke 12:51 "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."
* "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth" -The misconception rests on the misunderstanding of who Jesus is as well as what he did when he came. The world has always had war and people fighting each other. The belief amongst many Jews was that the Messiah would forcefully stop the actions of those who were sinners and Gentile heathens. Those who would remain would all be for God and thus peace would come to earth. This thinking was wrong. The Messiah was coming to bring peace in a person's heart, not between two opposing sides. The sinner would not and is not destroyed and/or deposed as a result of his first coming. Rather, the sinner is converted into a saint if they accepted what Jesus did for them on the cross.
* Jesus had just been talking about his coming baptism in the crucifixion. Now he mentions the division that it will bring. When faced with the cross and the implication of it a person has to make a decision. We must accept or reject. This binary decision causes division. This conversion is from the love of God, not vengeance. The love of God does nor force himself on someone. The love of God seeks faith, hope and love from the other.
* When a person accepts Jesus death for their sins, they become a member of the family of God. When a person rejects Jesus death for their sins they remain in the house of Satan. These two sides are a clear division amongst mankind.
* The confrontation between humanism (human selfish will) and God's will continues to this day.
>Why would families be hardest hit?
* Luke 12:52-53 "From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
* A family may have one person accept Jesus, while another rejects him. Thus, there is even divisions in a home.
* Jesus saw this in his own family as Mark's gospel shows. His brothers came during his ministry to remove him from travelling around the country and causing what they saw as trouble. (Matthew 12:50; Luke 18:19-21; Mark 3:20-21, 31-35)
* By bringing the division to a family level helps us understand that the division is in two opposing personal decisions about God and his Son Jesus.
III. Interpreting the Times (54-59)
>9. What kind of signs can most men, especially the Pharisees interpret well?
* Luke 12:54-55 "He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is."
* The general concept Jesus is speaking about here is that we know from cause and effects that happen in the physical world. We all can predict the weather in the next few hours based on what we see and feel happening in the atmosphere.
* "cloud rising in the west" -The area to the west of Palestine is the Mediterranean Sea. The rain in the area comes from the Mediterranean Sea.
* "the south wind blows" -The area to the south of Palestine is a dry desert. So when south winds blow in Palestine it will be hot.
>10. What do they fail to interpret?
* Luke 12:56 "Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?"
* "this present time" -The Old Testament revealed a lot about Jesus' first coming. Any Jew could have studied the Bible, look at what was happening in John the Baptist's and Jesus' ministry to know that the Messiah had come as the Lamb of God. But they did not. Thus they deprived themselves of knowing the needed truth to made a good and right decision.
The future would be bleak for the generation that rejected the Messiah. Coming was the war with Roman that would lead to the destruction of the nation, one that it would not recover from for almost two thousand years. The result for generations of Jews that would follow them would be rejection and persecution from one nation after another. Jesus' rebuke to the crowd was a warning to not reject him as the Messiah and the result their rejecting would have.
>Why does Jesus call them "hypocrites"?
* "Hypocrites" -Jesus said this to the crowd, not just the religious leaders. The Jews believed that they were in the know when it came to spiritual matters and God's plans. They knew facts, but interpreted them not according to God's heart, but according to their own sinful nature. Are we any different now? Does the average Christian who attends a congregation believe they understand the past, present and future just because they heard parts of the Bible, and yet this same person doesn't read and study the Bible themselves? More than that they really don't want to know God on a personal daily level.
* A modern hypocrite goes to a church on Sunday morning and them sits all week watching sports games. The modern hypocrite does not study and practice the Bible. A modern hypocrite says one thing and then does another.
* Are you a modern hypocrite? Do you study the Bible and see what is going on in the world around you? Do you know God's plans from your own personal study, or do you gain understanding from what other people tell you is in the Bible?
>What warning does Jesus give in the parable in verses 57-59?
* Luke 12:57-59 "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."
* "judge for yourselves" -Jesus wants them to think on their own based on what he says.
* "As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate" -Sin makes us guilty. All have sinned and all are guilty. We all have to sit before God, the judge.
* "try hard to be reconciled to him on the way" -Now is the time, while we are alive in the flesh. There is still a chance for everyone to be counted free of debt caused by sin. We can be pardoned. We need to see, accept, and confess our sins. We need to ask for forgiveness. We need to reorganize grace found in Christ.
* Hebrews 9:27-28 "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."
* "you will not get out until you have paid the last penny" -The Jewish nation was the first nation to be judged by God. The judgement came because they rejected the Messiah. They have been paying for this rejection for two thousand years. Now they are repenting, turning to him in numbers that had not been since the first generation of Messianic Jews.
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