Matthew 24:45-47 (ESV): 45. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46. Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
In our text, we find Jesus sitting on the Mt. of Olives days before his crucifixion. He was talking to his disciples and answering their questions about future events which included signs of His return to the earth. After Jesus described what had to happen prior to His returned, He turned His conversation from the future to their present, and in effect, our present. How? Jesus draws the attention of the disciples to a most important point of His return. What did He say? v.36- Jesus told them, and tells us today: "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." It is from this truth that Jesus emphasized His previous statements and commanded the disciples to do two things so that they (we) are not surprised when He returns: "stay awake-watch" (active, present-to be in continuous readiness and alertness) and "you must be ready" (active, present, pertaining to a constant state of readiness). Jesus then provides another example of not being caught by surprise (vs. 37-43). Each of the examples Jesus gives suggests that people are so involved or caught up in themselves and so distracted by everyday situations, that their spiritual senses are dulled to the point that they do not sense the signs of change that should motivate them to get ready for something life changing to happen. So Jesus was telling them that no matter what he had just revealed to them about the future, it would be meaningless if they were not alert and prepared to receive Him when He returned (illust.: weather forecasts; car running out of oil; tax audit). After Jesus calls for action by the disciples, Jesus asked and answered a rhetorical question to illustrate His point. This question is the focus of the sermon today.
v.45. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?
The Bible teaches us that all believers are servants of Christ. But the Bible also teaches us that Christ calls individuals to perform certain tasks or services on His behalf. Jesus said in the Matt. 22:14, that many are called, but few are chosen. So who did He call? Paul states in Ephesians 4:11 that Christ gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. Our focus is on the pastor/teacher.
In the first part of our text, Jesus gave a description of a certain type of servant. To better understand this servant, we need to define some words. Jesus said, "who is...the servant?" The word "is" is a present tense verb (continuous), with an active voice (the subject is performing the verbal action). In this case, the action or state of the servant is being faithful and wise. The word "faithful" means to be trustworthy, dependable, reliable, accountable, sure or true. The word "wise" comes from the Greek words; thoughtful, practical and intelligent. It pertains to understanding resulting from insight. Jesus said that it is this type of servant that,...his master has set (appointed, ordained, or assigned a position of authority over) his household...
In the second part of the text, Jesus describes what the servant was responsible for. ..."[T]o give them their food at the proper time. Jesus words suggest the faithful servant provides provisions for the household. But from a pastor's point of view, giving "food" is not about provisions, but it is about providing knowledge and understanding. God promised in Jer. 3:15- "I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Shortly before Jesus ascended to heaven, He asked Peter three times a simple question. He asked Him if he loved Him. Each time Peter answered and said he love Jesus. Each time Peter said he loved Jesus, Jesus commanded him to do three things, i.e., (continue to) feed my lambs, (continue to) tend (shepherd) my sheep and (continue to) feed my sheep (John 21:15-17). Jesus qualified the responsibility of the servant by stating that it was not enough to feed the household, but to do it at proper time. "Proper time" suggest that the faithful and wise servant, i.e., the pastor, has an intimate relationship with the servants of the household whereby he can seize the opportunity to serve or minister to them, no matter when that time is.
So the question is, why would the servant continue to be faithful and wise regarding his duties and responsibilities? From a pastor's point of view, there are two good reasons to carry on. First, so the saints will be perfected (matured), for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. Second, so that the people will be awake-alert and ready-prepared for the return of Jesus because we do not know the day nor the hour when He will return. Jesus said that the servant-pastor who is doing what was called to do when He returns and has continued to be faithful and wise, he-she will be blessed. How? He or she will be given greater authority and responsibility over the master's possessions and as such, receive greater rewards. But the greatest reward will be to hear Jesus say, ..."Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Lord."