Matthew 24:45-51

“Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.

But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:45-51

In the church we call this week, the week before Easter, Holy Week. Together we remember the events of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. Today, Tuesday, we remember him teaching in the temple in Jerusalem.

Who was there to listen? Visitors from all over. People whose lives had long included regular trips to Jerusalem for various religious festivals. People there perhaps for the first time. Jews, of course, but also Gentile traders, many doing brisk business in and around the temple. And, also of course, the religious leaders. The lawyers (the scribes), the pastors (the Pharisees), the priests (the Sadducees), the opportunists (the Herodians). And the Roman guards who corralled the crowds and kept the peace.

Each, it seems to me, would have heard these words of Jesus in their own circles of influence. Each had a daily calling they could use to do good or to only serve themselves.

We all know the difference between following our daily callings in the best interests of those we serve or in using our daily work only to serve ourselves. Jesus applauds and encourages the former and he harshly criticizes the latter. One is blessed, the other cursed. Eventually.

And that is the word that hangs in the air. Eventually. Because, for the time being, in the real world, the self-serving types are the ones who succeed, who advance, who make their mark. The scribes who twist the words of scripture to justify anything. The Pharisees who use religion to manipulate and control people with demands that they themselves cannot fulfill. The Sadducees who treat the temple as their own personal piggy bank. The Roman guards who treat their charges like animals to be threatened, harassed, and tamed rather than human beings who deserve respect, safety, and freedom.

That is the world then. How does the world today look? Have we really come as far as we think we have? Are we as enlightened, educated, and sophisticated as we imagine ourselves?

By the end of the week, it is going to look like the powerful win. Jesus, their agitator, will be safely in the tomb. The crowds will thin. The temple will empty. Business will go on like usual without that pesky religious/political/social reformer stirring up trouble. Just about everyone will go to sleep peacefully.

But just wait until Sunday morning….

Let us pray: Dear Lord, you call each of us to serve our neighbor in our daily lives, in our daily callings, in the places where we live our lives. Help us serve well. To love our neighbor. To practice justice, to live with integrity, to serve humbly. And in that, to be your hands and feet in the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 24:45-51”

  1. garlee931 Says:

    Rev. Kerry,
    Thanks for your wise words once again. May the good Lord provide you with more words and acts of wisdom this week to inspire others to goodness.

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