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Parables Bible Study 19: The Servants Waiting for Their Lord

Title: Parables Bible Study 19: The Servants Waiting for Their Lord

Subject: The Second Coming

Age: 13+ years

Location: Luke 12:35-48

Handout for note taking: Bible Study Worksheet

Begin the Bible Study with a prayer. Read the passage, and then allow time for quiet reflection. Share the following notes on the parable.

This parable is found near then end of Luke chapter 12, after a general discourse on the behavior and values of followers of Jesus, and is concerned with the Parousia, or Second Coming of Christ.

In regards to the Second Coming, there are two trends to take note of. First is that there is much speculation, formulation, and discussion of, about, and around the Second Coming. Many seek benchmarks, signs, explanation, etc. around Jesus' coming. At times it seems as if this is its own industry, if you will, and preoccupation of some. We all can note the mythical almost figure of the man on the street corner with the sign "The end is near!" But to all of those who have attempted to prognosticate and prophesy regarding Christ's coming, the following is a quote Christ from Matthew 24:36: "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." With this side of the debate settled let's turn our attention to the other trend.

On the other hand we have those who dismiss, are ignorant of, and maybe worse still, interpret the Second Coming in an "enlightened" or metaphorical manner. The results of these trends are that understanding and clear thinking regarding the Second Coming is lost.

Returning to the trends noted there is more to say on those subscribing to the second trend. In regards to the Second Coming and the judgment that will accompany its arrival[1], it is fair to say that for most Christians the idea of Christ returning and even the idea of judgment seems far fetched, maybe incongruous, simple headed even, or wrong. In terms of judgment, a loving God, they reason, could not condemn any sinner no matter how unrepentant they may be. The Second Coming may even be figurative to some.

The response to this is found within the Nicene Creed: "And He shall come again with glory, to judge the living and the dead." This is repeated each Sunday and our hymns and scriptural readings are full of the constant reminder of the Parousia and its accompanying judgment.
There are two additional trends, and they are prayer and expectation of the end times. These are what we call the social Gospel. These two sides of Christian life can be seen as mutually exclusive, or as is often the case one of the above is sacrificed for the other. Examples include the beautiful church, lovely chant, etc., and no soup kitchen; or there is a soup kitchen, social action, but no development of the interior life and worship.

There must be a balance[2]: we must expect and prepare for the coming of Christ and the consummation of all things, and understand this life as a preparation for the life of the world to come. At the same time we realize that we will be judged according to our works, as seen in the parables of the Sheep and Goats and the Ten Virgins.

The tension of holding these two trends is apparent in scripture and early Church history. Noting the shift that occurred in Christian thinking as early as the first century, some say Christians began to set aside the belief that Christ would return in their lifetime for focusing on the building of a Christian society and world view.

2 Peter 3:3-14 says:
"Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.' For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless."

This passage from Peter is about the Second Coming, and specifically an exhortation to live in a state of preparedness precisely in expectation of the Lord's coming[3]. Luke 12:35 says, "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning." Ephesians 6:14: "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness." The action of girding one's loins is symbolic of preparation for work or battle. The long garment of Palestinian dress is tucked in, so that one can work. It instructs us on the need to be alert and ready for action. Similarly, having lamps burning is symbolic of the need to stay awake, watchful, and prepared. This short verse describes Christian life as active, and our activity is work.

Luke 12:36: "and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately." This verse from the parable at hand brings to mind that of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). We must be ready whether He comes early or late.

Verse 37 tells us that our preparation will be met with reward and fellowship. The Lord will serve us! We will not be treated as servants but as friends. Table fellowship describes our time with the Lord in the Kingdom! "Such is His joy on finding those who truly love Him. They will enjoy the great banquet of reunion with Him in His kingdom[4]."

Verse 38 reveals that no matter when He comes, no matter the delay, the expectation is that we will be ready. Verses 39 and 40 bring to mind robbery! Does this parable mean the robbery as a real event? It possibly does. It may better point to a spiritual robbery; the theft of the spirit and the spiritual life that occurs as a result of our careless or heedless activity that is brought about by the work of the Devil and his demons. St. Peter writes that the, "day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." However the Lord, unlike the thief: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10 (see also Psalm 23:5) We must constantly be prepared, the date is unknown and it is not announced.

Verse 41 shares through Peter's question that all people must heed this teaching! Verses 43 through 48 return to what we said before: our task is not just to be vigilant and prepared but also to be actively doing God's appointed tasks!

Allow time for discussion or reflection.

End the bible study with a prayer.

[1] Archbishop Dimitry, Parables, pp.122-123.
[2] Ibid.
[3] P. 124.
[4] P. 125.

Prepared by Fr. Evan Armatas

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