2003-05-19 - Being Alert
Luke 12:37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall 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.
I was asked by someone to write on this verse. Thus I am giving it a shot. I intend to take an approach that I never have before in looking into this verse. I am going to start by looking at two paraphrases of the verse and then make some basic observations of my own. A paraphrase is an attempt to explain what a verse is saying while using the words of the verse as a base. They can be helpful. The first is from Philip Doddridge and his work, "The Family Expositor," which is part of his complete works. The second is from John Guyse and is titled, "The Practical Expositor." I have updated the manner that letters are printed (Thus the F's, will not look like and S), but I have left the spelling and punctuation as the quotes are in the volumes. Thus the quotes are faithful. Doddridge was published in 1804, and Guyse in 1776, and there have been changes in spelling since then.
Here is Doddridge on Luke 12:37: "Happy are those servants, whom, when their Lord comes, he shall find thus watching for him: and happy also will you be, if this shall be your case. For verily, I say unto you, So condescending is your Lord and Master, that, if you answer this character, he will reward you as graciously as if some great man, absent on such an occasion as I have supposed, finding his servants diligently waiting for him at his return, should gather up his clothes and gird himself and cause them to sit down to supper, and should come forth himself and wait upon them."
Here is Guyse on Luke 12:37: "Those faithful servants are happy beyond expression, whom their Lord, at his second appearing, shall find to be thus diligently waiting in expectation of it: I assuredly tell you, that he will shew the greatest condescension to them, and put the highest marks of houour upon them, in admitting them to his glory, and entertaining them with all the delights of the heavenly world."
Please feel free to let me know if you like a paraphrase or hate it. I have never used them before, but, personally, I think they can give insight into the text.
The first comment I would make on this verse is that it is part of a larger section of Scripture. This verse is really part of Luke 12:35-48. It is a section on being watchful for the return of Christ. One of the dangers of being focused on one verse is that we can fall guilty of taking it out of context. Every Biblical text screams "context, context!" We can be prone to fall into error when we rip a verse out of it's Biblical context.
Verses 35-38 are the first part of the passage noted above. It is about the wedding feast and being ready for the return of the Lord. The idea is that the Christian must be ready for death when death comes. He/she must need no preparation time as it may not be granted. We must live in readiness. We might compare the end of verse 37 with Revelation 3:20, 21. I will let you refresh yourself on those verses.
I will make one last comment from a commentary that I found very profound. It is from Jacob Abbot in a commentary published in 1875 (Another book I have never used). I have no idea of his background and not a clue what denomination he was (much the better). He had the most profound insight into this verse. In summation, he says, that in our union with Christ on earth the Lord expects us to prepare our lives to live for His cause. What Abbot missed is that we can't prepare without the Holy Spirit preparing us. However, Abbot then adds that in heaven, "he (Christ) prepares the feast for his servants." I think that is the real meaning of the verse.
Soli Deo Gloria,