When Jesus uses the phrase, “But know this,” in Matthew 24:43, He is telling us, “You dare not ignore this word.” Then He offers the following statement: “If that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; [he] shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken” (Matthew 24:48–49).
Luke 12 identifies this servant as the same one who at one time faithfully served “meat in due season” (Luke 12:42). This servant started out right and he was destined to be rewarded as a keeper of the Lord’s goods. But now he has changed dramatically. He is found striking those around him and getting drunk with the drunken.
Something took place in this servant’s heart—a change perhaps unseen, but one that affected his attitude. What happened? What was this change? Jesus tells us that he said in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming” (24:48).
The Greek word for smite in verse 49 suggests repeated blows. In other words, this servant had fallen into hypocrisy. I see him as one who provokes his wife, curses freely, listens to dirty stories, gossips. How does he come to this? He convinces himself that his master isn’t coming back anytime soon. When he reasons to himself, “My lord,” he is speaking of a different lord entirely, not his righteous Master. He has conceived a Jesus of his own making, a Christ of another gospel.
This type of servant doesn’t preach his new attitude. Rather, the change has taken place in his thinking. He doesn’t have to broadcast his belief that the Master has delayed His coming. He is simply living out that belief and that makes all the difference.
Do you wonder why so many churches today are filled with unprepared, indulgent pleasure seekers? Do you wonder why so many Christian couples divorce at the slightest provocation? It isn’t because their pastors are teaching them to live that way. No, it’s because many shepherds do not believe Christ is coming in their generation. And the people merely follow the shepherd.
“When they heard this, the people in the synagogue [where Jesus had been speaking] were furious” (Luke 4:28, NLT).
Let’s take a moment to talk briefly about why the people here became so angry.
When Jesus stood up in the synagogue, He began to speak about Elijah. He said that in Elijah’s time the heavens were closed for three and a half years, during which time there was a famine. But Elijah came to only one woman and she was not an Israelite, she was a foreigner.
Then Jesus went on to use another example, the lepers in Israel. Elisha went to heal only one person, a man from Syria whose name was Naaman. After hearing Jesus relate that story, the people were so furious that they grabbed hold of Him and took Him outside the city.
“Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff” (Luke 4:29, NLT).
If you are a Christian but are not aware of this tactic of Satan, you need to be. He intends to try to push you over a cliff. He intends to take your finances and get you so distraught, so worried, so fearful that he almost flings you down onto the ground where you crash and burn.
If your marriage is stressful and you feel pressured there, the enemy is not content to just cause your union to be less than fruitful. He wants to get in and take you to the very edge, to the place where he can throw your marriage off to where it no longer exists.
The good news is that the edge of the cliff, falling off the cliff, is not the destiny of God’s people. You were called to the high ground. You were called to stand your ground in the holy place where God has you. You were called to stand and not be condemned by Satan. You are not to believe the lies of the enemy about your life.
Verse 29 says the people intended to push Him over the cliff, but look at what verse 30 says: “But he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.”
As Christians, our lives have been purchased for a price, and we now belong to God. The price was the blood of Jesus Christ, which He shed on the cross. Just as Israelites in the Old Testament belonged to God through covenant, Christians belong to God through the salvation we have experienced. We are God’s people now. We belong to Him—rescued out of the clutches of sin, guilt and condemnation, and adopted into His family. In this case, being bought and owned by someone isn’t a negative thing; it’s a beautiful thing.
God saved us for the purpose of making us human temples, inhabited by His Spirit. During Old Testament days, God dwelt within the inner room of the temple—a place called the Holy of Holies. That’s where He made His home. When Paul said Christians were the “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19), the word he used for “temple” was not the word used for the outer rooms of the Old Testament temple. It was naos, which referred to the inner sanctum, the place where there was a visible manifestation of the shekinah glory of God.
That indwelling of God through the Holy Spirit makes Christianity different from any other religion on earth. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism—none of these religions claim that their god inhabits their followers. The leaders of those belief systems may try to proselytize with their doctrine, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is different. Faith in Jesus makes us walking miracles who have been changed through the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
God’s plan in redemption was that we should live life full of the Holy Spirit. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The metaphor here is that we might be filled with the Spirit to the point where He overflows—spilling out unto others with love and grace.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.
Are you looking and yearning for His coming?
I would never do anything to cause a fellow believer to doubt his or her readiness. Most people reading this message can probably say, “Yes, I’m ready. I’ve repented and confessed my sins, and I’m forgiven. I have put my trust in Jesus’ righteousness and if He comes right now, I know there will be no condemnation toward me. I know in whom I have believed. I’m sure I am His.” I would say the same things about myself.
Yet, in re-reading Christ’s warnings, I came across something I can’t shake off. Jesus commands, “Watch therefore” (Matthew 24:42). Then He says, “But know this” (24:43). In other words: “If you’re going to be ready—if you’re to be watchful, as I would have you be—there’s something you must know.”
Jesus then describes a man who thought he was prepared but wasn’t. This man’s house was “broken up” (24:43). Next, Jesus describes a person who was truly prepared (24:45–47). Finally, He gives an awful warning about evil servants who will be cast into a hypocrite’s hell (24:48–51).
The servant who is truly prepared is likened to the head of a household who provides meat for those under his rule. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season” (24:45). Jesus tells us this servant’s reward is to be made a ruler over his master’s goods (see 24:47). Evidently, the servant’s “giving of meat in due season” is of great importance.
Who are the rulers over households that Jesus refers to here? This speaks of parents. It also includes pastors, who rule over “the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). So, how does a parent offer “meat in due season”? In biblical terms, meat represents God’s Word. The Greek meaning here also suggests nourishment, from a root word meaning “to bring up.” Next, the phrase in due season means “at the right time.” Christ is saying, “Blessed are those parents who nourish their children with God’s Word. They raise them with biblical admonition, while there is time, before it’s too late.”
Jesus spoke of a great and sudden disappearance of people from the earth. “In that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Luke 17:34–36). Jesus’ disciples asked, “Where will these people be taken?” He answered, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (17:37). He was saying, “I am the Head of the Body and the Head is going to be united with the Body.”
Some scholars say the people taken up are sinners being swept away to judgment. But Scripture suggests otherwise. Isaiah speaks of eagles in reference to the Church: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Also, God said to Israel, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4).
In Matthew, Jesus speaks of the elect being taken up by God: “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). Paul makes this clear, stating: “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).
As dramatic as this great event will be, Jesus’ point was that it will happen on an ordinary day. It will be like those past days of judgment, in Noah’s and Lot’s societies. Men and women will be at their jobs, going about their day as usual. Then everything will happen suddenly, in a mere moment. Paul says: “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
It will be a day like any other. All of humankind will be unaware, but then, in a single moment, Christ will gather His Bride.