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Summary: The Faithful & Wise servant vs. the Wicked Servant.

In the next couple of weeks, Conrad Black’s venerable lawyer, Miguel Estrada, will enter a courtroom in Chicago to argue for his client’s bail pending his upcoming appeal. He won a unanimous decision in the Supreme Court for his client in a case that few predicted would even reach the nation’s highest court.

Lord Black was convicted of three counts of mail fraud. The Supreme Court said that his conviction on the "honest services statute" is limited to bribery and kickbacks and the scheme alleged against Lord Black didn’t involve either. (Steven Skurka http://www.nationalpost.com/Bail+possible+Lord+Black/3288988/story.html#ixzz0tz4wx5w5)

Conrad Black is known as one of the smartest people around, but there has been much criticism that he made some foolish decisions that allowed him to be convicted. One interesting issue is whether or not he was wise in managing his companies finances in generating good returns for investors.

In our series on wisdom, we have seen that being wise is not just knowing the right thing to do, but actually doing it. In Matthew 24, Jesus deals with this topic in terms of His return. Matt. 24:1–25:46 is often called the “Olivet Discourse” because Jesus “sat on the Mount of Olives” (24:3) when he spoke these words. It is the fifth of Jesus’ five major discourses recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Addressed to his disciples, it is intended to give them a prophetic overview of the events to transpire in both the near and distant future.

Matt. 24:42–25:30 begins a series of Parabolic Exhortations to Watch and Be Prepared for the Coming of the Son of Man. Jesus gives four parables to explain to his disciples how and why they should be prepared for his coming: the homeowner and the thief (24:42–44), the good and wicked servants (24:45–51), the 10 virgins (25:1–13), and the talents (25:14–30). Each of these pictures is alike in stressing the sudden nature and unpredictability of Christ’s return, but each also adds its own unique elements. The picture of the flood reminds us that many persons will be lost. The picture of the two men working in the fields and the two women grinding at the mill points to a radical separation and reminds us that we are not saved by knowing or being close to a believer. The picture of the thief reminds us that our souls are valuable and that it is simple prudence for us to be ready. What about this next picture, the contrast between the two servants? This picture provides an explanation of what being ready means (Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (520). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.).

The contrast between the two servants is closely parallel to Luke 12:42–46, where the context is similarly eschatological, following the sayings about the burglar and about being ready because the Son of Man will come when he is not expected. Matthew does not, however, follow Luke in the concluding comments (Luke 12:47–48) about the different degrees of culpability depending on whether the slave knew what his master expected of him (France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (943). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.).

A wise Christian does not merely keep looking for the coming of the Son of Man. Instead they should be completing the work of the Great Commission (28:19–20), as well as being prepared and expectant, because the time of Christ’s return is unknown (24:36) (ESV Study Bible. Crossway Bibles. Wheaton, Ill. 2001.).

In exercising heavenly wisdom we see the contrast between the 1) Faithful & Wise servant (Matthew 24:44-47) from the Foolish 2) Wicked Servant (Matthew 24:48-51)

First we see :

a) The Character of the Faithful & Wise Servant (Matthew 24:45)

Matthew 24:45 [45]"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? (ESV)

This story varies from the typical parable form in that Jesus envisages two alternative, hypothetical scenarios involving the same character (the servant) rather than an actual contrast between two separate, good and bad characters (Blomberg, C. (2001). Vol. 22: Matthew (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (368). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).

In verse 45, Jesus presents an analogy using the familiar imagery of a trusted servant/slave whom his master set over/put in charge of feeding the entire household. The very word “then” indicates the connection with the immediately preceding; as if to say, “such readiness implies faithfulness.” (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 9: New Testament commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. New Testament Commentary (871). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.)

The particular responsibility of the slave is incidental to Jesus’ point, which is that every believer is a servant/slave of Jesus Christ and therefore obligated to serve Him in every way. Every believer has been given a divine stewardship and responsibility in the work of Christ on earth, and in that stewardship he or she is to be faithful and wise/sensible. For the first time in this Gospel, the adjective faithful is used; it will be used again in 25:21, 23. Various translations render it “obedient” or “dependable.”( Newman, B. M., & Stine, P. C. (1992). A handbook on the Gospel of Matthew. UBS helps for translators; UBS handbook series (760). New York: United Bible Societies )

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