(7) “Will any of you who has a servant come in from plowing or looking after the sheep, say to that servant, ‘Sit down now and eat’? (8) No, he would say to him, ‘Prepare a meal for me and get ready to serve me while I eat and drink. After that, you may eat and drink.’ (9) He does not thank the servant for doing what was expected of him, does he? (10) So you too, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are only servants who have done what was expected of us; we deserve no credit.’ ” (Luke 17:7-10 TNIV ~ Just a servant)
1. What was a typical servant-master relationship like in Palestine in Jesus’ time?
2. What was the context and composition of a typical evening meal for a Jewish householder in Palestine in Jesus’ time?
Jesus expects much of those who follow him, but also expects them to have a spirit that expects nothing in return. There is no place for a sense of “entitlement” among servants of God.
1. “This little parable’s significance far outweighs the attention it usually receives.” (Bailey, William, Through Peasant Eyes, Eerdmans, 1997 reprint, 114; cited hereafter as Bailey: Eyes).
2. “It opens in a manner common to a number of Lukan parables: “Will any one of you?” or “Which one of you?” (11:5-7; 14:23,31; 15:4,8). The assumed answer is always no or no one.” (Willimon, 200)
3. “. . . in the Lucan context of the last three sayings that preceded this parable, the sense of duty is thus given to the avoidance of scandal (vs.1-3a), to forgiveness (vs.3b-4), and to faith (vs.5-6).” (Fitzmyer, 2:1147)
4. “We are required to be perfect (Matt.5:48). Whenever we complete a task we cannot claim that we have done more than we should.” (Morris, 257)
5. “. . . ‘we have only done our duty;” the Pharisee in 18:12 thought that he had done more, and was therefore entitled to special favor from God, and the parable was probably originally directed against such an outlook.” (Marshall, 648)
6. “The parable of the master and the slave is a warning against the book-keeping mentality, which thinks that it can run up a credit balance with God. . . . The whole idea of merit is to be abandoned in our approach to God.” (Caird, 194)
7. “In its present context . . . the parable is addressed to . . . the apostles, and it may well be understood as a warning against the attitude of church leaders who think that their service in the church entitles them to some reward and that they can be proud of what they have done. ” (Marshall, 645)
God, my Father in heaven, in the name of him who alone is worthy, I ask you to help me to so serve you as if everything good for me depended on my earning it from you. But I also ask you to help me serve you with such a spirit that understands perfectly well that any good that might come from you to me is not of merit or credit due me by you, but of pure mercy. I cannot do enough for you, God, so may I do all I can and go about it with absolute humility. Amen.