We find ourselves at an interesting place in the life of Jesus when He walked the earth. He had just explained to His disciples the hope of eternal life…and what that means for those who are still bound up in the things of this life…the distractions of this fallen world.
The King of Heaven longs for His faithful ones on earth to put their trust fully and absolutely in Him. Our earthly possessions are meant to be held onto lightly and used to advance God’s purposes on earth. Jesus promised that the Lord will take care of those who rely on Him.
A Christ follower is never meant to get settled into this world. We are always meant to be waiting for our King, looking forward to His return with great expectation. Jesus explained that when He returns at the Second Coming, He will bring His faithful ones home to Heaven with Him, and there will be a great feast prepared for them. On that Day, Jesus, the Son of the Living God, will serve His disciples as they recline at the banquet table. Give yourself a minute to imagine that. Wow.
At this point as Jesus was teaching, Peter stopped Him to ask a question. “‘Lord, are You telling this parable to us, or to everyone?’”
Jesus answered Peter’s question by telling a new parable. This one explained how His servants must handle the tremendous privilege they received when Jesus revealed Himself to them. The call of Christ on a life is the greatest blessing of all, and it comes with tremendous responsibility. His faithful ones are called to the high and holy work of serving all of God’s children! It was the sacred task Peter would bear for the rest of His life. Here is what Jesus said:
“‘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? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servants 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. 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.’”
Wow. Do you see the wrath of Jesus against anyone who uses their position of religious power to hurt others? Can you sense His utter hatred for that sin? Do you see how protective He is of His servants, especially if someone claiming to be His servant is oppressing them? This is a grave, terrifying passage. It makes very clear that the righteous, wrathful judgment of Jesus is against anyone who would abuse their spiritual authority. Every leader in Christ’s Church should gulp when they read it. It should provoke reverent fear and awe at the sacred role entrusted to them by Jesus. And it should give all believers a stringent, powerful motivation to honor the protective love that Christ has for each of His own.
It is interesting that the reason the bad servant in this story felt free to abuse his servants was because he wasn’t expecting his master to come home. He didn’t think he would get in trouble for his bad behavior. When spiritual believers abuse their people, it is not simply a sin against other humans, it is a sign of deep unbelief in the goodness and justice of God. They are acting as if they don’t really believe He is there, watching over them, or that they will be held to account by Him.
Jesus makes it clear that they will.
The abuse of leadership will receive the severest of punishments. What a warning this was for Peter, the rock of the Church! But the Lord had two more warnings:
“‘That servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving of 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.’”
This passage is another one that should send a stream of reverent fear down the spine of every true believer in Jesus Christ. When we put our faith in Jesus, it shows that He has already done a remarkable work of transformation in our hearts. In goodness upon goodness, He has given us eyes to see Him, He has forgiven us of all our sins. and He has given us His Spirit to purify us and strengthen us and transform our lives. We have been given the best of anything that can possibly be given…the love and the Person of God Himself in the very depths of who we are. Wow.
So when Jesus says, “To whom much is given, much is required,” we know that, first and foremost, He is talking to those whose eyes have been given sight to see that Jesus is the Savior. What we do with that information is the most important thing about us.
In the midst of this, we can also see Christ’s mercy. There is lesser punishment for those who had lesser knowledge and opportunity. It is those who know God’s will and ignore it who will receive the most serious punishment. It is not just for those who do wrong. It is for those who refuse to do right!
It is interesting that wicked men who don’t know anything about the will of God will receive punishment, but not as much as the ones who know the will of God and reject it! Can you see why the religious leadership and the Jewish people were in so much trouble? They had been given the very Word of God, and the Son of God walked among them, and they refused to receive Him! They were in a dangerous position indeed.