Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 8 2013 - Luke 12:35-59 – The Lord who serves

Luke records a number of parables in which Jesus tells his disciples always to be ready for the day of his return. One such parable is recorded in Luke 12:35-40. Jesus tells his disciples that they/we must always be alert and prepared for his coming:

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes...  even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak... You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

But what I find most remarkable about this parable is what Jesus says of the way the master will treat his servants who have been keenly waiting for his return, "Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them" (12:37). What an extraordinary statement. Certainly this is no description of what one might expect a master to do, even for the best of his servants. Jesus is clearly speaking here of himself. He came into this world not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for sinners. He is the one who at the last Passover meal which he ate with his disciples, got up from the table, wrapped a towel around his waist, took a bowl of water and washed his disciples' feet. He who was the Lord of Glory came to us as the Suffering Servant.

And in this remarkable parable we learn that he does not lay aside this role with his return to glory – nor at his second coming. We know that when he returns he will come in glory to judge the living and the dead; yet, here we are told that he will remain the Servant King. He comes to serve his servants and to bless those who have longed for his appearing. As he broke the bread for the two travellers to Emmaus on the day of his resurrection, so shall he break bread for us when he returns – we shall share in the wedding banquet.

Meanwhile, our Servant King calls us to follow him in lives of glad service – to be about the Master’s business. Jesus has entrusted us with the care of his world and the work of his kingdom. It’s as if we have been entrusted again with the care of a garden. What will the Master find when he returns? Will it be neglected, overgrown and filled with thorns and thistles or will it be carefully tended, dug and planted, full of the fruits of our labour and made beautiful with the colour and scent of its flowers? How are we tending the garden entrusted to our care?

The promise of the Master’s return should keep us busy in his service, ready for the moment when he shall appear and looking towards his commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Gracious Father, forgive me that I often live in a manner little different from those who do not know you and who do not look forward to Christ’s appearing. Help me not only to call Jesus “Lord” but to live, moment-by-moment in glad response to his love for me. Keep my lamp burning brightly. Help me by your Spirit to live in the light of his death and resurrection and towards the promise of his coming. Teach me the work you have for me to do and help me to do it willingly and well, just as Jesus gave himself willingly for me. May I delight in a life of service of you my God, of Christ my Lord and towards a world of need.

Peter Misselbrook