Tucked away in Luke’s Gospel is the Parable of the Unworthy Slave. It is one of the most enigmatic in all the Gospels.
In the Middle East in the first century, the traditional roles of masters and slaves were well-defined. Dependency and inequality were assumed. For a master to serve his own servants was unheard of! In our age of a 40 hour work week, labor unions, paid time off, and time and a half for overtime, this parable seems distant and unfair. On the surface, it wears a harsh frown and seems heartless. The master appears to be a slave-driver, ungracious and unmerciful.
What are we to make of this parable? What does it mean? Our first reaction is to polish off its sharp edges so we can ease the pressure on our conscience.
1. Where in Gospels? Only in Luke. Godet said Luke found it among his literary materials “at the bottom of his portfolio.”
2. Where in Luke? In the Travel Narrative (9:51-19:57). Significant part of the Travel Narrative is Jesus’ teaching on discipleship.
1. Immediate context: In collection of sayings to the disciples.
2. Relationship to context:
1. Parable – Master’s Expectations (17:7-9) 3 rhetorical questions – first expects negative answer, second positive, third negative.
2. Application of Parable – Servant’s Motivation (17:10)
Conditions of true discipleship – 3- Fold Essence of Servanthood:
Servant cannot set the terms of discipleship.
Service for God is not meritorious.
September 22, 2022