Gospel Words: 18. The Wicked Servant

Luke 12:45‑48  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
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INSTRUCTIVE and solemn is the picture which the Lord draws of the servant in verses 45. 46, rendered still more full and precise in verses 47, 48, when a notable difference comes to light.
When our Lord announced His departure to the Father’s house, and the mission of another Advocate, the Holy Spirit to be in and with the disciples, He was no less distinct in promising His own coming again to receive them unto Himself, for the same place as Himself on high. And when gazing into heaven after their ascending Master, they were told by unimpeachable testimony that He should thus come as they had seen Him go. There is no doubt that in apostolic times the church walked in this hope, and that the mouths of preachers and teachers then spoke of it out of the abundance of their heart. Yet none ever regarded it as a question of date, any more than the Lord Who revealed it as a simple and pure and constant hope from His love to their love. And this difference is the more striking, because, the day of His appearing, which in due time follows His coming for His heavenly saints, is associated with prophecy and its judgments and signs in both the Old Testament and the New.
Hence the earnestness with which the apostle taught the converts, like those in Thessalonica from their first start, to await God’s Son from the heavens, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath (1 Thess. 1:1010And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)). Not only did He write of His coming with all His saints in 1 Thess. 3:1313To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13), but of His coming for them to raise and change them, as a necessarily antecedent action in ch. 4:12-17. He does much more; for he identifies himself and all saints with it as their proximate hope by saying, not “they” as at a distant future, but “we, the living, that survive” (in contrast with those meanwhile “put to sleep by Jesus”) until the coming (or presence) of the Lord, shall not precede those put to sleep. Both were to be caught up together. The aim of the Spirit of truth, Who knew the end from the beginning, and expressly gave the message “in the word of the Lord,” was to put the hope ever before the heart, trade sure of its fruition, but by set purpose not sure when, so that all the saints might be always looking for it. It was impossible otherwise to have the hope common, constant, and living. Infidels and those under their influence mock, as if it was the apostle’s error, at that which was really the perfect wisdom of God in giving “one hope,” which never did nor can pass away till His coming shall be its crown.
In the parable the Lord points out from the first that putting off the hope would betray the evil heart of unbelief, the root of other evils.
“But if that bondman say in his heart, My lord delayeth to come, and shall begin to beat the men-servants and the maid-servants, and to eat and drink and be drunken, the lord of that servant will have come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour that he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder and set his portion with the unfaithful” (verses 45, 46).
It is not a doctrinal mistake (though this is not a slight thing with God’s word and Spirit to direct aright), but the far more serious aberration of the “heart,” which is too easy where this doctrine may be held. How sad the soul’s state where Christ’s coming is unwelcome; and the bondman does what his heart likes! Thus is the separative power of the hope lost, and its attraction to Him Who is coming and His word. Violence ensues towards his fellows, who become disagreeable, as the world with its enjoyments become pleasant company. Can any words more graphically sketch Christendom’s practical ruin, of which the first symptom was the heart’s plea, My Lord delayeth His coming? This will not hinder but rather hasten His coming unexpectedly, Who will punish his disloyalty and assign his portion with the faithless, notwithstanding all his boast of Christian privileges.
In the verses that follow, the Lord rules, that sad as the heathen’s case may be in the day that hastens, incomparably worse is the Christian professor’s. “And that bondman who knew his own lord’s will and made not ready nor did his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes]; but he who knew [it] not and did things worthy of stripes shall be beaten with few. And to every one to whom much has been given, much shall be required of him; and to whom they commit much, of him they will ask the more” (verses 47, 48).
O my reader, forget not that you have an open Bible, her the gospel, are sometimes troubled when you think of your sins and feel ashamed because you shrink from confessing the Lord’s name, as much as you love the world and the things of the world. “The end of those things is death;” after which comes judgment. How will your guilt and the madness of your unbelief seem then when it is too late? Oh, turn not away from Him that speaks from heaven of His cleansing blood, Whose voice will soon shake earth and heaven also. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” His grace now is as sure to the believer, as His judgment will be shortly terrible for the unbeliever. God is not mocked.