What on Earth have we done with the Teachings of Jesus?
Finalising now our journey through Matthew 24 with the Matthew Henry commentary. Get ready!
Henry says – get ready. We awake in vain if we do not get ready. [2 Pet. 3:11 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].
There is an inheritance
We have our Lord to attend upon, and we must have our lamps ready trimmed. We must have our accounts ready and balanced. There is an inheritance which we then hope to enter upon, and we must have ourselves ready. [Col. 1:12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light]. Get ready!
There are two reasons to induce us to this watchfulness and diligent preparation for that day. Because the time of our Lord’s coming is very uncertain. For this is the reason we have a double exhortation [Matt. 24:42-44 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect].
Do not boast about tomorrow
We do not know the day of our death, Gen. 27:2. We cannot know how long we have to live, it may prove less than we expect. Even less do we know the time fixed for the general judgment. We are kept at uncertainty, that every day we may expect Him.
May we never boast of a year’s continuance (Jam 4:13), nor of tomorrow’s return, as if it were ours, [Prov. 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth]. In our present state we should be under the influence of a constant and general expectation. We can be tempted to entertain particular predictions, but these are vain desires and wishes and can lead us astray.
As a thief in the night
Matt. 24:43. If the master of a house had notice that a thief would come on such a night, and such a watch of the night (for they divided the night into four watches, allowing three hours to each). Though it be the midnight-watch, when he was most sleepy, yet he would be up, and listen to every noise and be ready to give him a warm reception. Though we do not know just when our Lord will come, yet we know that He will come, and come quickly. And so it concerns us to watch always.
We all have a house to keep in which all our worth is laid up. That house is our own souls, which we must keep with all diligence. The day of the Lord comes by surprise, as a thief in the night. Christ chooses to come when He is least expected. Thus the triumphs of His enemies will be turned into the greater shame, and the fears of His friends into the greater joy.
Put on the armour of God
If Christ, when He comes, finds us asleep and unready, our house will be broken up, and we shall lose all we are worth, not as by a thief unjustly, but as by a just and legal process. Death and judgment will seize upon all we have, to our irreparable damage and utter undoing. Therefore be ready, as ready at all times as the good man of the house would be at the hour when he expected the thief. We must put on the armour of God, that we may not only stand in that evil day, but, as more than conquerors, may divide the spoil.
The issue of our Lord’s coming will be very happy and comfortable to those that shall be found ready, but very dismal and dreadful to those that shall not, Matt. 24:45. This is represented by the different state of good and bad servants, when their lord comes to reckon with them. According to how ready we are on that day will depend on how well or ill it will go with us into eternity. For Christ comes to render to every man according to his works.
Our work is to give, not take
Observe here what Christ says. Concerning the good servant He shows here what he is—a ruler of the household and that he is faithful and wise. As a result he shall be eternally-blessed. Here are good instructions and encouragements to the ministers of Christ. We have here his place and office. He is one whom the Lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season.
They are rulers under Christ who act in subordination to Him. And there are rulers for Christ, for the advancement of His kingdom. The work of gospel ministers is to give to Christ’s household their meat in due season, as stewards. Their work is to give, not take to themselves [Ezek. 34:8 “surely because My flock became a prey… nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock].
Their role is to dispense what Christ has purchased. And to ministers it is said that it is more blessed to give than to receive, Acts 20:35. It is to give meat, to deliver those doctrines to the church which, if duly digested, will be nourishment to souls. They must give, not the poison of false doctrines, not the stones of hard and unprofitable doctrines, but the meat that is sound and wholesome. It must be given in due season, en kairo—while there is time for it. When eternity comes, it will be too late. We must work while it is day, whenever any opportunity offers itself.
They must be faithful
The good servant will be a good steward for he is faithful, 1 Cor. 4:2. He that is trusted, must be trustworthy. The greater the trust is, the more is expected from them. It is a great thing that is committed to ministers (2 Tim. 1:14). They must be faithful, as Moses was, Heb. 3:2. Christ counts those ministers, and those only, that are faithful, 1 Tim. 1:12. A faithful minister of Jesus Christ is one that sincerely desires his master’s honour, not his own. He is one who delivers the whole counsel of God, not his own vanities and is no respecter of persons.
He is wise to understand his duty in guiding the flock with integrity of heart. It requires wisdom to be a good steward. The ministry is a good work, and they whose office it is, have always something to do. They must not indulge themselves in ease, nor leave the work undone, or carelessly turn it off to others. But give meat to the household, minding their own business and so doing as the Master has appointed; not talking, but doing.
Those who die in the field of service
This intimates that at whatever hour his Master comes, he is found busy at the work of the day. When Calvin was persuaded to set aside his ministerial labours, he answered, with some resentment, “Would you have my Master find me idle?”. He is to be found in perseverance in his work till the Lord come. Hold fast till then what you have til I come, Rev. 2:25. Continue in these things, 1 Tim. 4:16; 6:14. Endure to the end.
Blessed is that servant as Christ pronounced. All the dead that die in the Lord are blessed, Rev. 14:13. There is a peculiar blessedness secured to them that approve themselves faithful stewards and are found so doing. Next to the honour of those who die in the field of battle, or suffering for Christ as the martyrs, is the honour of those that die in the field of service, ploughing, and sowing, and reaping, for Christ.
He shall be preferred
He shall be preferred (Matt. 24:47). He shall make him ruler over all his goods. If the stewards of their house conduct themselves well in that place, then they shall be managers of estates. Thus was Joseph preferred in the house of Potiphar, Gen. 29:4, 6.
Concerning the evil servant. Here we have his description given (Matt. 24:48, 49). The vilest of creatures is a wicked man, the vilest of men is a wicked Christian, and the vilest of them a wicked minister. Corruptio optimi est pessima—What is best, when corrupted, becomes the worst. Wickedness in the prophets of Jerusalem is a horrible thing indeed, Jer. 23:14. The cause of his wickedness is in his practical disbelief of Christ’s second coming. He has said in his heart, My Lord delays His coming; and therefore he begins to think he will never come and has forsaken His church.
The delay of Christ’s coming is a gracious instance of His patience. It is greatly abused by wicked people, whose hearts are hardened in their wicked ways. When Christ’s coming is looked upon as doubtful, or a thing at an immense distance, then hearts of men are fully set to do evil, Eccl. 8:11. See Ezek. 12:27. Like was said of Moses, so they say of Jesus, ‘We do not know what has become of him so let us make gods, the world a god, the belly a god, anything but him.’
He is a slave to his passions and his appetites. He begins to beat his fellow servants. Stewards of the house are forbidden to lord it over the servants of the house. They are to be treated as fellow servants.
The angel called himself a fellow servant to John (Rev. 19:10), so John learned to call himself brother to the Christians of the churches of Asia, Rev. 1:9. It is no new thing to see evil servants beating their fellow servants; both private Christians and faithful ministers. He thrashes them with the tongue, as they thrashed the prophet, Jer. 18:18. The more power he gets into his hand, the further it goes.
His doom shall be
Those who eat and drink with the drunken follow into profaneness and immorality. He associates with the worst of sinners, has fellowship with them, is intimate with them. They walks in their counsel, stands in their way, sits in their seat, and sings their songs. He will act like them eating and drinking, and become drunk. This is an inlet to all manner of sin. Drunkenness is a leading wickedness; they who are slaves to that, are never masters of themselves in anything else. The persecutors of God’s people have commonly been the most vicious and immoral men.
His doom shall be [Matt. 24:50, 51 will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth]. The coat and character of wicked ministers will greatly aggravate their punishment. They can plead no exemption from Christ’s jurisdiction, whether in the church of Rome or that of the civil magistrate there is no benefit of clergy at Christ’s bar.
The soul and body of the godly part fairly
He shall cut him down, as a tree that falls to the ground. He shall cut him in asunder, parting his body and soul, send the body to the grave to be a prey for worms, and the soul to hell to be a prey for devils. The soul and body of a godly man at death part fairly, the one cheerfully lifted up to God, the other left to the dust. But the soul and body of a wicked man at death are torn asunder, for to them death is the king of terrors, Job 18:14. The wicked servant divided himself between God and the world, Christ and Belial, his profession and his lusts, justly therefore will he thus be divided.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
- 1. Be ready always in holy conduct and godliness
- 2. Do not fall for particular predictions regarding the second coming of Christ for these are vain desires
- 3. Put on the whole armour of God (Helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, shield of faith, sword of the Spirit (Word of God) and feet shod with the gospel of peace) so that we may stand in that evil day as more than conquerors
- 4. Beware of evil ministers desiring their own honour and preaching vanities. Be assured that they will be punished
- 5. Know that we will be blessed when we are found or die in the field of service: ploughing, sowing and reaping for Christ
- 6. Ensure no one lords it over another in the church, but that we consider each other as brothers
- 7. Be careful not to be intimate with those of a bad character, walking in their counsel and being caught up in their sin (drunkenness, revelry)
Quiet Lives Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share the Joy of your Lord Matt 25:23 These words whispered in the ears of many Whom the world would pass by unrecognising Not to the great and world-famed are they said so often But to those who are the subject to despising. It is the quiet followers who serve Me faithfully Those who bear their cross With a smiling face to the world In them there is no sense of personal loss. These words speak the fuller Spirit-life With all its joy and pain They thank Me for quiet lives Who desire only My gain. It brings entrance into a life of joy Duty faithfully done for Me. The world may scorn the humble, quiet service But I see. My reward is not earth’s fame I look for no outward sign My reward is not earth’s wealth and pleasures But the Joy Divine. That joy which I said no man could take from you See now My arm extends Earth has no pleasure, no reward, that can give man that joy It is known only to My lovers and My friends. Joy may not come as the prize for active service It may be the reward Of patient suffering, bravely borne The full carrying of My Sword. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer: Father, we come to You afresh today. We acknowledge our need of You. Father have Your way with us. Change our hearts to be like Your heart. Remove all the dross from us. Breathe Your life, Your love and Your vision into us. May we be about Your business and no ours. For Your glory. Amen.
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