The Parable Of The Unprepared Servant

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

One of the most important teachings of the Word of God is that Christians need to be ready for the Lord’s coming.  

To that end, I would like to consider one of the Lord’s parables regarding this crucial subject.   

Matthew 24:42-51-42  Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45  “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46  Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47  Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48  But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’. 49  and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50  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, 51  and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Let’s notice three things about this passage.  

The Context Of The Parable Of The Unprepared Servant 

The context of this passage shows us some very important facts which need to be considered.  

The Lord had begun to tell His Apostles about the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-2), which lead them to ask three questions: 

Matthew 24:3-Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

The Lord answered each of these questions in order. The first question was answered in Matthew 24:4-29; the second in Matthew 24:30-35; and the third in Matthew 24:36-25:46. Jesus makes it clear also that the first two questions would have a first century fulfillment. He does this by telling us that the signs up to verse 34 would be fulfilled in “this generation,” I.e., the generation of people then living.

Matthew 24:34-Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

By studying the phrase “this generation,” we see this is clearly its’ meaning. Simply study the way “this generation” is used in the Gospels (Matthew 11:16; 12:41-42; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32; 49-51; 17:25; 21:32). In every instance, the phrase “this generation” had specific meaning to the generation of people then living. Gary DeMar has written: 

“We do not have to speculate about the meaning of “this generation.” Those who deny that “this generation” refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking in the Matthew 24 context must maintain that “this generation” means something different from the way it is used in every other place in Matthew and the rest of the New Testament. Matthew 23:36 clearly refers to the Pharisees and their associates. Why should we interpret “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 in a way different from 23:36, since Jesus is answering His disciples’ questions regarding His statement in Matthew 23:36 to the Pharisees about their house—the temple— being left to them desolate? The usual rejoinder is, “All of Matthew 24 could not have been fulfilled during the life of the apostles. There must be a future fulfillment even though ‘this generation’ seems to refer to those who lived between A.D. 30 and 70….“Without exception, these verses describe events within the lifetime of the then-present generation. All the evidence points to the generation of Jews who heard Jesus’ words and would suffer the same judgment as the scribes, Pharisees, and the chief priests if they did not heed Jesus’ warning and escape before the Roman armies surrounded the city and destroyed it (Matt. 24:15–22; Luke 21:20–24)…“Third, the adjective this points to the contemporary nature of the generation Jesus was referencing (cf. Matt. 11:23; 27:8; 28:15). If some future generation had been in view, Jesus could have chosen the adjective that (cf. 7:22; 10:19; 24:10, 36; 26:29). The passage would then read this way: “That generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” A study of the way Matthew uses the adjective “this” will show that Jesus had the generation to whom He was speaking in mind when He described its soon destruction:” (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession Of The Modern Church, 169-179 (iBooks Edition); Powder Springs, GA; American Vision) 

Then, after describing the events which would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem in verses 4-35, Jesus begins talking about the Second Coming. He says:

Matthew 24:36-But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

To see that the Lord clearly makes a distinction between the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming, pay special attention to the phrase peri de (Matthew 24:36). This phrase is used in several passages to show a deliberate change in topic: 

Acts 21:25-But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

1 Corinthians 7:1-Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

1 Corinthians 8:1-Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

1 Corinthians 12:1-Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

By using this phrase in Matthew 24:36, Jesus is showing that He is shifting the focus from the destruction of Jerusalem to the Second Coming.  

Ken Gentry has well written: 

“Let us now look at the evidence that Jesus is shifting his attention from the destruction of the temple in AD 70 to his second coming at the end of history. I will present more than a dozen arguments for the transition in Matthew 24….In Matthew 24: 36 we come upon an subject-matter transition device: “But of that day and hour no one knows.” The introductory phrase here in the Greek is: peri de (“ but of, concerning, regarding”). This grammatical structure suggests a transition in the passage involving a change of subject. We may see this phrase frequently marking off new material, as in Matthew 22: 31; Acts 21: 25; 1 Thessalonians 4: 9; and 5: 1. Allow me to quickly focus on several very clear subject-transition uses of peri de in 1Corinthians. There we see that Paul is turning his attention to one question after another that the Corinthians asked him: “Now concerning the things about which you wrote” (1 Cor 7: 1). “Now concerning virgins” (7: 25). “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols” (8: 1). “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren” (12: 1). In each case he is clearly introducing new subjects that respond to different questions presented to him….Focusing once again on Matthew 24: 36 we read: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Here Christ states that in his state of humiliation (the period from the time of his earthly conception within Mary’s womb until his glorification at his resurrection) he himself has no knowledge as to when “that day and hour” will occur. But of what “day and hour” is he speaking? He must be speaking of his future second advent because in the preceding section of his Discourse he tells his disciples that numerous signs will be given, but that “the end [of the temple] is not yet” (Matt 24: 6). This indicates that he definitely knows when that event will occur. He also dogmatically teaches them that these earlier things will certainly happen in “this generation” (24: 34). Thus, as Nolland notes: “there is a deliberate contrast between the confident tone of the predictive materials thus far in the chapter, climaxing in v. 34, and the present insistence that only the Father knows.”…By the very nature of the case, the numerous events leading up to the Roman military destruction of the temple in AD 70 will require a number of days. Hence, in the portion of his Discourse prior to Matthew 24: 36 Jesus mentions “those days [plural]” (v 19, 29) and even comforts his disciples by noting that “those days” will be “cut short” (v 22). This mention of the days of the tribulation period are set in stark contrast to the singular day —indeed, the exact moment —of the second coming: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt 24: 36). After this transition at 24: 36 he repeatedly mentions the singular “day” (24: 42, 50) or “the day” and “the hour” (25: 13). The second advent does not involve a series of historical actions, as is the case with the Roman military operations against the Jews, Jerusalem, and the temple. The second advent is a one-time, catastrophic event conducted by a singular individual, Christ himself…In the first section Christ urges desperate flight from the area, clearly implying there will be time and opportunity to flee: “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt 24: 16). In fact, one particular sign —the abomination of desolation —will be the cue to leave the area. Because of this opportunity of flight, many lives of God’s elect will be saved: “unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short” (24: 22). But upon entering the second section of the Discourse we hear of no commands to escape, no opportunities for flight.” (De. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Oliver Discourse Made Easy: You. An Understand Jesus’ Great Prophetic Discourse, 2453-2589 (Kindle Edition); Draper, VA; Apologetics Group Media)

Now friends, please notice the connection that Jesus is making for us: of the destruction of Jerusalem, there were several signs given. The disciples were able to see these signs being fulfilled and fled from the city in time. Yet of the Second Coming, there are no signs given! Instead, the Lord could return at any time.

So, what is the focus we must have as Christians? We need to always be ready!

Unfortunately, the unprepared servant chose to live a wicked lifestyle and so was unprepared.  

The Content Of The Parable Of The Unprepared Servant

By studying this parable of the Lord, we see that the unprepared servant had three characteristics which help us to see why he was unprepared.  

First, the servant did not give his master the proper esteem. The Lord must be first and foremost in our lives as God’s people (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 12:1-2). When we call Jesus Lord and do not do what He says, His Word rebukes us (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:24-27).  

Second, the unprepared servant exalted himself. He decide to put his selfish desires ahead of what was right. The teaching of the Lord had always been that we must be willing to humble ourselves. Earlier, Jesus had declared: 

Matthew 23:8-12-8  But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10  And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11  But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12  And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

By His teaching, Jesus forbids religious titles. Yet how many disciples of Christ wear names like “Reverend,” “Potentate,” “Worshipful Master,” and “His Holiness?”

Brethren, these things out not to be so. We must learn to submit ourselves to God (James 4:7), and humble ourselves before Him (James 4:10). When we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, then we may cast our care upon Him (1 Peter 5:6-7).  

Finally, the way that the servant treated his fellow servants shows us another reason why he was unprepared for the coming of his master. The text tells us that he began to beat and abuse the other servants, just as he began to drink and carry on in wild parties. The Word teaches us that we must have long-suffering and forbearance with each other (Ephesians 4:1-6), loving in deed and in truth and not just in word and tongue (1 John 3:18).  

For all of these reasons, this evil servant was unprepared for his master’s return.

The Consequences Of The Parable Of The Unprepared Servant

Because the servant was unprepared, he suffered punishment. The text tells us that he would be cut in two (an obvious reference to death), as well as weeping and gnashing of teeth. This specific phrase had the usual idea in the Bible of continual rebellion and anger. One author has well explained: 

“The phrase ‘gnashing of teeth’ focuses on another emotion, as we can discover by looking at its use elsewhere in Scripture. At one point in his life, when he felt at the end of his tether, Job cried out, ‘[God] has torn me in his wrath … he has gnashed his teeth at me’ (Job 16:9). When Stephen was about to be stoned to death he accused his opponents of betraying and murdering Jesus, the righteous Son of God. Their response was predictable and passionate: ‘Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him’ (Acts 7:54). From these two examples we can see that ‘gnashing of teeth’ is a way of expressing anger. In hell, that anger will be more intense than any this world has ever seen. The wicked will be angry at the things which gave them pleasure on earth but now give them pain in hell. They will be angry at the sins that wrecked their lives; angry at themselves for being who they are. They will be angry at Satan and his helpers for producing the temptations which led them into sin. Even while compelled to acknowledge his glory and goodness, they will be angry at God for condemning them to their dreadful fate.” (John Blanchard, Whatever Happened To Hell? 2792-2797 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; EP Books)

This will be the fate of all who are unprepared when the Lord returns.  

Conclusion 

Not long ago, I was reminded of this account that I read in a book by Gary Kah. Speaking of the influence of the Masonic Lodge, we find reference to an interesting ritual that takes place: 

“From its earliest degrees, Freemasonry subtly conditions its members to accept the false belief that all religions are pathways to the same God, rendering Christ’s atonement on the cross insignificant and meaningless. A widespread acceptance of this view is a precondition for merging humanity into a system of world government Without the existence of a synthetic global religion capable of uniting the religions of the world under a single umbrella, it would be impossible for the conspirators to succeed. Freemasonry provides this umbrella. It has already succeeded in preparing a significant portion of our world’s population to embrace its universalist worldview. The Masonic religion is therefore not only a threat to the souls of its members, but to the sovereignty of nations and to the current world order as well; and for these reasons, I stand opposed to it. Realizing that the words of a contemporary Mason carry more weight than my own, I have asked Reverend James Shaw, a former thirty-third degree Mason, to close this chapter by sharing his own experience with Freemasonry and his reasons for leaving the Order. The following is his personal account: “Dear Friend, “Membership in the Masonic Lodge has in many cases become a family tradition, with young men often joining because their fathers and grandfathers belonged. Because of their admiration for certain friends or relatives, these men join the Lodge without hesitation, certain that the Order is based on noble aspirations. This was the case with me. From the time I was a little boy, my mother encouraged me to become a Mason some day like my uncle whom she greatly admired. Her impression of Freemasonry was that of a club where good men met to plan on helping those in need. “When I grew up, I married a fine woman who was a member of the Eastern Star and whose father was a Mason. Although her father would never talk to me about the Lodge, I was nevertheless proud of him. Surrounded by people I loved who were Masons, I finally decided to join the Lodge myself. “Upon applying for membership in Indianapolis, I received a letter from the Lodge within two weeks telling me I had been accepted. I was instructed to be present at the Lodge at 6:30 p.m. on a particular day to receive my first degree. When the time came, I went to the Lodge and paid my dues for the first three degrees after which I was told to follow a man who they said was the Senior Steward. He took me to the Preparation  Room where he told me to remove my clothes and to put on a pair of white pants (like pajama pants) and a white jacket Before long, a man referred to as the Junior Deacon came in and told me to follow him. He took me to a door and put a blindfold on me. He also rolled up the left leg of my pants and turned back the collar of my shirt exposing my left breast. After some conversation between the Junior Deacon and the man inside the Lodge room, I was finally told to enter. Being hoodwinked, I could not see, but I could sure feel! Something hit my left breast (it hurt). A man’s voice said, ‘Jim Shaw, you are received into this Lodge on the sharp points of the compass, which (and he jabbed me again) is to teach you never to reveal any of the secrets of an Entered Apprentice Mason to anyone unless he be a Brother Mason.’ “I had come to the Lodge that evening expecting merely to be told what a Mason was supposed to do. However, by the end of the ceremony I had become disgusted. When it was over, my friend told me it was something that all Masons had to endure; so I put it out of my mind. “After one year I was appointed Senior Deacon. This was a big jump for me as I had bypassed three chairs. I had told the Worshipful Master that I did not want to be a ‘chairwarmer’ but wanted to be of service to the Lodge and go through all the chairs. I also joined the Scottish Rite, and had become Prelate in the Lodge of Perfection, studying for Master of the 4th degree. “About this time I received word from an old Army friend encouraging my wife and I to move to Florida where he was living. I didn’t want to leave my job with the Post Office, but my friend told me he could get me a Civil Service job in Florida.  My wife loved the idea of living there. So between the two of them begging me, I finally agreed to make the move. My Lodge membership was transferred from Indianapolis (which was in the Northern Jurisdiction) to my new Lodge in Florida (which belonged to the Southern Jurisdiction). Although the Ritual between the two jurisdictions varies somewhat, I found that the essence of the Lodges was still the same. “The Lodge in Florida was in need of good officers; and I soon progressed to the position of Worshipful Master. I had to be elected to this particular office, but that was no problem. I worked with Lodge members in my Civil Service job, and there were numerous officers of the Scottish Rite who were also City Officials. In fact, I had a part in the initiation of the Mayor of the city. It was in the Skull lecture I gave in the 30th degree. He paid close attention. “Soon I had served in many chairs and was given the Degree of K.C.C.H. (Knight Commander of the Court of Honor).  I had this degree for four years when I, quite literally, entered the darkest period of my life. My sight began to deteriorate rapidly as I was developing a cataract on my left eye. A friend of my wife recommended I visit an ophthalmologist who she said was very good. I took her advice. After examining my eyes the ophthalmologist informed me that I had to have an operation on one eye and possibly on the other eye as well at a later time. “He told me he had to see me every day for a week before he could operate because of an infection in my eyelid which had to be treated. During these visits he began to share with me about Jesus Christ and even read some verses to me out of the Bible. Although I knew of many ministers and preachers who were Masons, particularly those affiliated with the National Council of Churches, I had been trained by my family to stay away from churches. My stepfather said they were full of hypocrites and no one in his house was ever to go to a church. And here I was, with a doctor who was working on my eyes trying to read the Bible to me. On my job I began speaking with a few people who I knew to be Christians, and they also told me about Jesus. One went so far as telling me that no Christian should ever be a Mason. In the meantime, the doctor continued sharing with me while he was working on my eyes. I tried not to listen, but deep inside I knew he was right. “Just one day after I had returned to work following my operation, I received a letter from The House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. I had been chosen to receive the 33rd degree and was to report to Washington in one week to accept the honor. Two men from the Scottish Rite who were 33rd degree Masons decided to go along with me to share in my time of joy. I remember being impressed by the size and the beauty of The House of the Temple. It was at least four times as large as our Scottish Rite Temple. After I had received the 33rd degree along with my white hat and ring, we all had a big feast and drank wine. It was all so much fun. Yet throughout this time I kept thinking of some of the passages the doctor had read to me from the Bible. “Soon after returning home I received a call from the Secretary of the Scottish Rite telling me to prepare for the upcoming Maundy Thursday services prior to Easter. I can tell you that the Lodges always make a mockery of Christian Holy Days. Now I was Master of all degree work and had to conduct the service. “In the meantime my wife and I had begun attending church with the ophthalmologist. He was still helping me understand the Bible and did not like the idea of me being a Mason. He told me he didn’t think I understood just how evil the Lodge really was, and he urged me to read thoughtfully the books of John and Galatians. I studied these books and was on the verge of accepting Christ But to become fully convinced I had yet to go through the Maundy Thursday ritual itself. “We were all in our places for the Maundy Thursday Rose Croix service to begin, each of us dressed in black robes. I stood and clapped my hands three times, and everyone rose to their feet  I began to speak, ‘My brothers, we meet this day to commemorate the death of our most wise and perfect Master-NOT as inspired or divine, but as at least the greatest of all humanity.’ “At this point I had to stop for a moment to think about what I had just said. I was denying the fact that Christ was inspired or divine, saying he was merely a human master no greater than Buddha, Mohammed, Confucious or other religious figures. I felt a tear run down my face, but I had to go on. I walked out to the menorah and lit a candle. “The next speaker said his part and lit a candle on the menorah. All spoke and lit candles. I was feeling sad and bewildered, wondering how I could go on; but I did. We had the Black Mass, drinking wine from a skull and eating a piece of bread—passing it around the table—saying to each man, ‘Take, drink, and give to the thirsty. Take, eat, and give to the hungry.’ Then we all went back to our stations. As I got up, my knees were shaking. I knew what fear was, and I had never felt anything like this since being shot at in the Army. “I stood and began to recite the closing words. ‘We now close this commemoration of the death of our master. MOURN!! LAMENT!! CRY ALOUD!! HE IS GONE!! NEVER TO RETURN!! MOURN!! LAMENT!! The candles were extinguished one at a time. I closed the ceremony by saying, ‘It is over; we must depart’. “I hurried to the disrobing room and got out of the black robe and into my street clothes. Some men came around and asked me if I was sick. I just said, ‘Yes, I’ve got to go!’ “The very next day I wrote letters to the Blue Lodge, the Shrine, and the Scottish Rite saying that I had attended my last meeting. I was a Christian now and would not be back. That was 25 years ago. I have never regretted my decision. “During my 19 years as a Mason, I witnessed and participated in numerous disturbing events, but the single most important reason causing me to leave was the fact that Jesus Christ was not the one being worshipped.  Many gods in the Scottish Rite are revered and many religions taught, but never is the Blessed Name of Jesus Christ allowed. One is not even allowed to close a prayer in the name of Jesus, but instead must use a vague reference to God, which could mean anyone or anything. Teachings of the Kabbalah, Zend Avesta, and the Gnostics are used along with astrology and the doctrines of ancient false gods such as Osiris, Semiramis, Isis and Krishna. The Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are also given reference as deities. But whenever Christ was mentioned, it was only in the form of a mockery. “For these reasons I left the Masonic Order. If you are currently a Mason, I urge you from the bottom of my heart to do likewise. It is the only right thing to do. “In Christian Love, Jim Shaw” Silver Springs, Florida” (Gary Kah, En Route To Global Occupation: A High Ranking Government Liaison Exposes The Secret Agenda For World Unification, 2571 (Kindle Edition); Noblesville, IN: Hope For The World) 

Friends, the “master” celebrated in this feast is not truly Jesus: for He will return one Day! Are you ready for His return?

The Son Of God came to this world the first time and died for our sins (Hebrews 2:9). He was buried, and three days later He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He commands believers everywhere to repent (Acts 17:20-31) and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:37-38). He likewise invites erring Christians to repent and pray, inviting Him back into their lives (Revelation 3:20; 1 John 1:9).

Why not obey Him today?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

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