Watchful Servants

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The Parable of the Watchful Servants – Luke 12:35-40 – Inductive Bible Study

Luke 12:35-40

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lampslit.  36 “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.  37 “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.  38 ” Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 ” But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.  40 ” You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”

  1. What title do you give to this parable?

Ready and Waiting

The Faithful Servant

The Master’s Imminent Return

Immediate Opening of the Door

Remarkable Role Reversal!

  1. What other parables have similar characteristics or theme?

Lamp under a basket – the lamp shines as a testimony

The wicked vinedressers – response to Jesus’ return

The wedding feast – the wedding feast is the common event

The ten virgins – examples of preparedness and unpreparedness

The talents – faithfulness and being prepared

The absent householder – return is certain, but time is unknown

The rich fool – the necessity of being ready to meet Jesus

The faithful servant and the evil servant – faithfulness is required

The unjust steward – faithful stewardship

The rich man and Lazarus – the rich man was totally unprepared

Unprofitable servants – the proper role of a servant

The minas – faithfulness in the Master’s absence

  1. Who was Jesus speaking to when He gave this parable?

Luke 12:13

13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”

Luke 12:41-42

41 Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?”

He was speaking to His disciples as well as to the crowds.

  1. What was the context for this parable?

Luke 12:22

22 And He said to His disciples, ” For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your  life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.

Jesus had been teaching them not to worry about the physical needs of life, so He then encourages them rather to concern themselves with the spiritual issues of life.

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lampslit.  36 “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.  37 “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.  38 ” Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 ” But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hourthe thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.  40 ” You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”

  1. What are the main elements of the parable and what does each represent?
    1. dressed in readiness – prepared for service
    2. lamps – the Word of God Ps. 119:105
    3. lit – obedience to the Word
    4. men – believers
    5. waiting for – eager anticipation
    6. their Master – Jesus
    7. He returns – His second coming
    8. wedding feast – celebration in heaven following the marriage of the Lamb and His bride
    9. immediately open the door to him – they are completely ready for His coming
    10. he comes and knocks – manifests Himself
    11. blessed – receive divine favor
    12. those slaves – the believers
    13. on the alert – prepared, not caught off guard or taken by surprise
    14. will gird Himself to serve – Jesus graciously exchanges roles and becomes the Servant!
    15. have them recline – He assigns believers the position of honor
    16. at the table – at a place of honor
    17. will come up – He always takes the initiative
    18. wait on them – He assumes the humble position
    19. second watch – an unexpected time before midnight
    20. even in the third – an unexpected time after midnight
    21. head of the house – those who should anticipate the Lord’s coming
    22. had known what hour – He will come at an unknown time.
    23. thief – the Lord
    24. was coming – Second coming
    25. not have allowed – Everyone, even a careless man will be prepared if he knows the time.
    26. house to be broken into – be caught off guard and unprepared
  1. What spiritual principles does this parable teach?
    1. To be ready for the Lord’s return, you cannot simple choose a time to be ready, but rather must be ready at all times.
    2. The Lord’s return will be at an unexpected time.
    3. God doesn’t tell us when Jesus will return in order to motivate us to faithfulness and diligence as a lifestyle.
    4. Jesus teaches us by His amazing example to be humble servants.
    5. Those who humble themselves before the Lord will be exalted.
    6. Unbelief leads to unpreparedness.
    7. They could open immediately because they had not been slack in their responsibilities.

Luke 12:35-40

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.  36 “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.  37 “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them reclineat the table, and will come up and wait on them.  38 ” Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 ” But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hourthe thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.  40 ” You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”

  1. Cross references to this parable?

Eph 6:14

14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,

Mark 9:34-35

 35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ” If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all .”

Ps 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.

Matt 25:4-10

4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.  5 “Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.  6 “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  7 “Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  8 “The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  9 “But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’  10 “And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

1 Peter 5:6

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

1 Peter 1:13

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

2 Tim 4:8

8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Isa 62:5

5 For as a young man marries a virgin,

So your sons will marry you;

And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,

So your God will rejoice over you.

John 13:4-5

4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

1 Cor 2:9

9 but just as it is written,

“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,

AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,

ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

Matt 25:6

6 “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

Matt 24:43-44

43 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.  44 “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

1 Thess 5:2

2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.

2 Peter 3:10

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Rev 3:3

3’So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Rev 16:15

15(“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)

1 Peter 5:8

8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Matt 26:38, 40

38 Then He said to them, ” My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” 

40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?

  1. Questions or problems with the interpretation of this parable.
    1. Why doesn’t the Lord let us know when He will return?
    2. Why are some people prepared and others not?
    3. Why are some people diligent and others not?
    4. What surprising thing does the master do upon His arrival?
    5. Why does He do this?
    6. What is the significance of the hour in which the master returns?
    7. From what wedding feast is the master returning?
    8. Where is the Master’s bride?
    9. How do you feel about being a slave?
    10. What practical steps can the slaves take to be better prepared for their master’s return?
  1. Based on this parable, what changes in my life does Jesus want me to make?

Pray for increased faithfulness and diligence.

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