The parable of the faithful servant is found in Matthew 24:45-51 (also read Luke 21:34-36). As with all parables there is one primary message, the characters are fairly easy to define, and the surrounding context is important for clarity. In this parable we see that the Master is our L-rd Yeshua, the servants are His followers.
The context of this parable is shown by reading the previous chapters, Matthew 23:37 – 24:31. From this passage we will see why faithfulness is the primary theme of the parable, and also why faithfulness is so necessary in the life of the Believer.
To start with, Yeshua shows His heart, his feelings at the time of giving this teaching, in Matt. 23:37-39. Yeshua says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will never see Me again until you say, ‘Baruch ha-ba b’shem Adonai.‘ Blessed is He who comes in the name of the L-RD.”
From this heart, Yeshua makes a prophesy concerning the Second Temple. Matt. 24:1-3 Shows Yeshua prophesies the destruction of the temple which leads the Disciples to ask three questions:
- When will these things be?
- What will be the sign of Your coming?
- What will be the sign of . . . the end of the age?
Yeshua answers to these questions is recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. In fact even John mentions some of the teachings in John 14:26, 15:21 & 16:2.
In good Jewish teaching a similar phrase is used to bracket the most important parts of the teaching, as a way to highlight the central theme(s). Yeshua does this with the phrase “false Messiahs” and “false prophets.” The opening of the first bracket is in vs. 4.
- In Matt. 24:4-5, Yeshua says, “Be careful that no one leads you astray! For many will come in My name and say, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will lead many astray.” I mentioned that although there have been some who have claimed to be The Messiah, Yeshua Himself, there are a lot more who come, claiming to be “Anointed” by Yeshua. The word Messiah (Hebrew)/Christ (Greek) means anointed. After each of these points I need to ask, Has this prophesy been fulfilled? (Also see Mark 13:3-8 Luke 21:7-11)
- In Matt. 24:6-7, Yeshua talks of wars and rumors of wars. This demonstrates that Yeshua knew that there would be some time between His Resurrection and His Coming as King of kings. Again, have these things happened?
- In Matt. 24:8 Yeshua predicts that these wars, famines and earthquakes would happen like birth pangs, and as every woman with children knows, contractions increase in both intensity and frequency the closer to the time it is. So have these things happened, or have we been getting more and more peaceful as a world?
- In Matt. 24:9, Yeshua promises persecution to His disciples. This is reiterated in Matt. 10:17-22, Mark 13:9-13, Luke 21:12-19 & John 16:2, 15:21, 14:26. So has this happened, and is this happening right now? Just check this last weeks news.
- In Matt. 24:10, Yeshua regretfully informs his disciples that “many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” So is this happening?
At this point in the teaching Yeshua brings up the false prophets. Peter talks about 2 ways of recognizing false prophets in his second letter (2 Pet. 2). He says that: 1) they will be immoral hedonists and 2) filled with greed. Yeshua also says that you will know them by their fruit (the actions of their lives) in Matt. 7:15-23. For more understanding on this we recommend further study in 1 John 4:1-6. The next portion of teaching is within both open brackets, and is therefore the most important theme of the teaching.
- In Matt. 24:12, Yeshua says, “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grows cold.” Is this happening?
- In Matt. 24:13 we have a major admonition from Yeshua for all of us. He says, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” This admonition is also stated in Mark 13:13 & Luke 21:19. This is a call to all believers today.
The next verse really points to the Parable of the Faithful servant. The statement in the parable that inspired my heart was “Blessed is that servant who’s master finds him so doing when he comes.” What then should we be doing? Yeshua had very few specific commands for us to follow. Apart from reiterating the Torah in Matt. 22:34-39, Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:25-28, there are basically 2 other “new” commandments. The first is, “Just as I have loved you, so you also must love one another.” (John 13:34-35) and secondly, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” (Matt. 28:16-20, Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:47). This goes to the next verse in Matt. 24.
- In Matt. 24:14 Yeshua makes a statement that the Good News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony.” There is debate as to how close we are to this, but two different sources that have an accurate account are Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Joshua Project . This should both encourage us and inspire us to continue to share the Good News throughout the world, and where ever we are.
- The verses of Matt. 24:15-22 then talk of the “abomination of desolation” which is prophesied in Daniel 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11. Here Yeshua makes reference to the “recent” abomination that was done by Antiochus IV Epiphanes where all the things Yeshua says will happen allude to the time of Antiochus. This passage is reiterated in Mark 13:14-20, and does not seem to have been fulfilled yet. The similar passage in Luke 21:20-24, however, does seem to have a direct fulfilment in the years 66-70. According to some of the earliest Christian historians, the Jewish believes in Yeshua fled Jerusalem to Pella prior to Titus destroying the temple. For more research HERE is a good article, written by Dr. J. Julius Scott, Jr.
- In Matt. 24:24 are the closing of the brackets, and say, “For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and show great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen.” Once again, has this happened? Is this happening? And will this continue to happen? I believe the answer is “Yes!”
Yeshua closes out this teaching by explaining that His return will not be quiet. The passages in Matt. 24:26-31, Mark 13:21-27 and Luke 17:23-24, 21:25-28 speak of Yeshua “coming on the clouds of heaven” a direct reference to the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel 7:13-14. This is a reference that Yeshua used when speaking to the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:64, Mark 14:62, Luke 22:69). And although we do not know the “day nor the hour” (vs. 36) we are commanded to know the season, and to be expectantly watching.
So going back to the parable of the Faithful Servant; what we are supposed to be doing when He returns is:
- Growing in holy love, toward the believers in Yeshua
- Proclaiming the Good News throughout the World
- And watching expectantly for His return