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LUKE 17:7-10

(The Parable Of The "Unprofitable" Servant!)

 

Here is our text:

"But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?  And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?  Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.  So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."  (Luke 17:-7-10)

 

(THIS BIBLE STUDY SERIES CONTAINS A TOTAL OF 14 LESSONS ...)

 

LESSON 1 ... POSTED TUESDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 19, 2004 FROM MORGANTON, NORTH CAROLINA:

It is called a "parable."

Jesus Himself used several dozen of them in His preaching and teaching.

This October Sister Norma and I are studying His parables.

A dictionary of etymology (word history) says that a parable is:  "A saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else."

Its Greek origin tells us even more.  "Para" is a preposition that just means "beside" or "alongside."  And "bole" is a cognate of "ballo," the Greek verb that means "to throw!"  (The English word "ball" ... which we do throw ... comes from "ballo!")

Therefore a "parable" is a story we "throw down" beside a great truth to illustrate it ... to help us better understand it! 

Jesus was a Master Teacher!

His wise use of parables proves that too!

The Book of Proverbs twice suggests that only truly wise men can properly use parables as effective teaching tools!

Proverbs 26:7 --- "The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools." 

And just a little later in the same chapter, "As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools."  Proverbs 26:9

Jesus made His preaching and teaching "walk evenly" with the use of parables! (Even "The officers answered, Never man spake like this man."  John 7:46)

Furthermore the Lord's parables brought healing and salvation ... not pain and frustration (as do thorns in the hands)!

For example, Jesus gave a parable about an "unprofitable servant" in Luke 17.  (Only Luke records this one!  Often a parable is repeated by more than one of the Gospels!)

Here is Luke's account:  "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?  And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."  (Luke 17:7-10)

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we shall start analyzing this beautiful paragraph. (On a new Page ... simply called the Luke 17:7-10 Page.  We usually "name" our Pages after the texts they discuss.)

Today I will just mention this one thing.  Here Jesus implies that if we do just what's commanded we are still "unprofitable" servants!

This certainly suggests that if we desire to really please our Master ... we should exercise some initiative and do MORE that asked!

More that just go to church faithfully?

More than just dutifully read the Bible?

More than tithe?

More than habitually pray?

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

How so, Preacher Bagwell?

What more should I do?

And therein is the beauty of becoming a "profitable" servant!  It is between you and the dear Holy Spirit what more you can do (or be) in order to please the Lord!

Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

The Greek word for "unprofitable" in verse 10 is "achreios" and means literally "useless" or "good-for-nothing!"  (The "a" in front of the Greek word means "no" or "not."  It negates the word that follows.  And "chreios," the word being reversed, means employment or usefulness!)

I do not want to be a useless "good-for-nothing" servant of my Lord.

I have a feeling that there is much to be learned in these 4 short verses!

Who is going to "enroll" in class?

Meet me tomorrow!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2:

The first verse of our paragraph naturally begins the story.

Jesus said:  "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?" Luke 17:7

Remember the childhood definition of a parable?  "An earthly story with a heavenly meaning!"

That's exactly how Jesus uses this account.

The first pronoun "you" in our verse is a genitive plural of "su" (in Greek).  It's the object of the preposition "of" (really ... "out of") and tells us that Jesus is taking to a group (plural) ... not an individual.  He is talking to His Disciples.  (A bunch of preachers!)

The noun for "servant" is "doulos" (derived from a verb that means "to bind").  It speaks of the lowest of the slaves in the Greek-Roman world!  This is the common "bond-servant" of Scripture and history.

This precise verb for "plow" is only used in two verses (but 3 times) in the whole Bible.  It means "to till" the earth.  (The noun is used once however ... in Luke 9:62.)  The verb is expressed here as a present participle ... the action is constant. He plows and plows and plows!

And the words "feeding cattle" translate one Greek verb, "poimaino."  It means to shepherd a flock!  He not only feeds these livestock ... he cares for them in every other way too!  That alone is a full-time job!  (And we here have another present participle.  He feeds and protects and pastures them every day ... day in and day out!)

Yet this verse truly is teaching us (among other things) that this servant's word is "never done!"  Even after he gets all his daily chores done ... he cannot come in a relax!  His master will not invite him to sit at table with the household!

There is work yet to do!

Jesus is deliberately drawing a picture of the harsh social customs of His day. Thousands fit into that category too!  (Servant to some despot!)

Yet ... wait just a minute!

This man was not born into slavery!

At least not in Old Testament days!

He perhaps mishandled his money and now has to "work off his debts!"

Or he has forfeited his land in some unwise business deal ... and is earning it back!

Or he belonged to an old heathen nation and has been captured by the Jews and put to work in some form of common labor!

Before we condemn this man's master ... we need to stop and notice the good that's being done for the servant!

He will eventually get his land back!

He will some day be given his freedom (even in Roman times)!

And in the interval the master must feed him (and his family), cloth them, care for their health and provide for them in every other essential way also!

Therefore ... it's not all bad!

Of course we all know where Jesus is going with this.

He is about to compare us Christians to that old slave ... and our Heavenly Father as the master!

What?  (You may be asking.)

Yes!

We are servants (slaves) of Christ Jesus!

That was one of Paul's favorite terms for himself!

For example Titus 1:1 says:  "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ ...."

And Romans 1:1 opens the very same way:  "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God ...."

Both times here "servant" is "doulos!"

Yes ... the Christian life demands all we have!

BUT we have been redeemed from sin!  (From past mistakes!  We were all spiritually bankrupt!)

Our dear Lord is providing ALL our need!  (Philippians 4:19)

And heaven is our future home!

I say ... "blessed servanthood!"

May God be praised!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3 ... THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2004:

After studying Jesus' parable about "The Unprofitable Servant" I began to think about all the plowing he (the servant) had done!

I wondered within my heart: "How does the Bible use that concept?  What does it say about plowing?  Does that old farm activity have any relevance to the Christian life yet today?"

The answers to these questions may surprise you.

I believe the Bible uses the act of plowing to teach separation from sin!  How so, preacher Bagwell?  In Deuteronomy 22:10 Moses taught the Jews:  "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together."  One of these is a clean animal (the ox) ... the other is unclean (the ass)!  Working them together would be (in type) a violation of God's standards of "separation."  Paul well may have had this verse in mind when he said in 2 Corinthians 6:14 --- "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"  (To yoke ... is to plow!)  Plus their leg lengths and bodily features would have caused great pain to both animals!  Here also may be a lesson about not being needlessly cruel to God's little creatures!)

In Job 4:8 plowing is used to teach God's great "Reap what you sow" principle! "Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same."  Also see Hosea 10:13.

And in Proverbs 20:4 plowing is used as a picture of hard work!  (Which the lazy man, the sluggard, will not do!)  "The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing."

Jesus also in Luke 9:62 uses plowing as an illustration of staying focused on the goals of life!  "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."  An old rabbi says that Jesus in the carpenter shop made the best plows and yokes in all the land!  I suspect Jesus built the BEST of every item He touched ... plows or anything else!  As he made plows ... did His thoughts travel the Scriptures as ours are doing today? 

Plowing to Samson implied intimate relationship!  "And he (Samson) said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer (his wife to be), ye had not found out my riddle." 

And plowing  could today remind us of the suffering Jesus endured on Calvary ... to save our lost souls!  Prophetically it is said of our Lord:  "The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows."  (Psalm 129:3) 

Plowing is also a symbol of destruction and punishment from the hand of God! Jeremiah 26:18 illustrates:  "Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest."  Micah 3:12 says about the same thing.

And the Apostle Paul uses plowing as a symbol of hope!  We plow with the view of some day reaping the fruit of our labors!  1 Corinthians 9:10 --- "Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope."

Elisha was plowing when God called him to the office of a Prophet!  (A hard worker ... plowing dutifully! A wealthy young man ... 12 yoke of oxen before him!  And an humble young man... who was plowing at the back of those other teams ... eating their dust!)  1 Kings 19:19 tells us about it:  "So he (Elijah) departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him."

And Proverbs 21:4 teaches us that when a man has a rebellious wicked heart against God ... anything he does, including plowing, is a sin!  "An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin."  (Wow!)

And plows three times are associated with either war (Joel 3:10 --- "Beat your plowshares into swords") or to peace (Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 --- "They shall beat their swords into plowshares")!

So when the "servant" of Luke 17:10 "plows" all day long ... he really had a lot to think about, didn't he?

Fellow ploughmen, today lets ponder the implications of our service to the Lord ... and keep on plowing to His glory!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:

In Luke 17:7 we are told of a slave (servant) who worked all day for his master.

One of his daily activities was "feeding cattle."

That sure sounds exciting, doesn't it?  Feeding cattle all day long!

The verb here for "feeding cattle" is a Greek word ("poimaino") which means not only to feed, but to tend a flock or a herd!

It is used 11 times in the King James Bible and is translated "feed" 6 times, "feed cattle" 1 time, and "rule" 4 times!

The first use of this word in the Bible is in Matthew 2:6 where Jesus is being described as One born in Bethlehem Who will be a Governor , and shall RULE the people of Israel!  (Matthew here is quoting Micah.)

The next use is when Jesus (after His Resurrection) told Simon Peter to FEED the sheep of God's flock!

Acts 20:28 again uses our word in a "pastoral" context!  "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

So does Peter is his first Epistle.  "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind."  1st Peter 5:2

However in the last days, says Jude, some will become so selfish that all they do is FEED themselves!  (Jude Verse 12)

And 4 times "poimaino" is used in the Book of Revelation ... 3 times picturing Jesus RULING the nations with a rod of iron and once FEEDING His sheep tenderly!

Here is the beauty of the word.  In Greek there exists a verb that means just to feed something or someone.  It is "bosko."  It actually means only to feed. Whereas "poimaino" means much more.  It includes feeding surely ... but adds protecting the little flock, keeping them warm in cold weather, striving to keep them healthy, seeing that they are properly sheared when the time comes, and much more!  Our verb is an all-inclusive term!

This dear servant in Luke 17:7 does it all ... for his master's flocks or herds!

It is a full-time job ... caring for all those cattle!

By the way this servant had some good company as he fed the cattle.  Other "shepherds" included Joseph, Moses, David, and even Jesus Himself!  (Hebrews 13:20 --- "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant ....")  Also see 1st Peter 2:25!

But note this also.

The noun form of our verb (as a noun = "poimen") is the New Testament word for PASTOR!  It is used in Ephesians 4:11 --- "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers."  Wow!

Thank God for your Pastor today!

He is your spiritual care-taker!  The "undershepherd" who longs to see you grow in the Lord!

Now ... back to the servant in Luke 17!

He WAS a worker!

And according to the way Jesus used the parable (Luke 17:7-10) ... this servant is a great example to each of us Christians!

Is there someone you are trying to "shepherd" as they grow in the Lord?

A younger believer?  A discouraged saint?  A new church member?  Someone in the family who has not been saved very long?

Paul constantly longed to see folks grow in the Lord!  Listen to him in Galatians 4:19 --- "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."  He, like a mother, is aching to see them do well spiritually!

We ARE to help each other grow.  We are to encourage each other!  We are to love each other!  We are to warn each other!  We are to pray for each other!  (There are about 15 or 16 "each others" in Scripture that we are to be practicing week by week!)

Are WE living in the spirit of the servant of Luke 17?

Are WE helping feed the cattle in our Master's herd?

Sometimes the good Pastor just can't do it all (at least alone he can't)!

Think of a struggling Christian today ... give him (if you're a brother) or her (if you're a godly lady) a call and "encourage" them ... "feed" them something from the precious Word of God this Friday in October!

Be a "profitable" servant for the dear Lord!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:   (SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2004)

Even after this servant has plowed much of the day ...then fed the master's cattle ... he is still not allowed to eat!

No sir!

He hears no "Come eat with us" from the master!

He is in fact expected to prepare the evening meal!

Even after working all day?

Yes!

"But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup ...." Luke 17:7

I want you to notice that Jesus is speaking these words to His Disciples.  You can easily discern that fact by reading verses 5 and 6, which precede our parable.  "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.  And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you."

It's to a group of Preachers that the Lord gives this illustration of the unprofitable servant!

And it is so true that a Preacher's work is never done!

He plows ... and shepherds ... then prepares meals (every single week)!

Cooks meals?

That's exactly what sermon preparation involves!

The Bible is likened to Bread and Milk and Meat and Honey and even Necessary Food!

Such items as those must be prepared!

Properly mixed! (Rightly dividing the Word!)

And seasoned with Grace!

This delicious meal will not only be pleasant but healthy and strengthening for both the servant's family and his master!

Preachers, have you ever thought about dedicating your sermons to the Lord first of all?

Church members, Sunday morning tell your Pastor that you "enjoyed the meal" as you leave Church. He will know what you mean exactly!

By the way, Daddy, you are to serve spiritual meals to your family even at home! It's not ALL the Preacher's job!

Servants who cook!

My, what a thought!

Excuse me, folks!  I've got to go spend some time in the kitchen!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6 ... SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2004:

I have found a verb in Luke 17:8 that only occurs 4 times in all the Bible.

That fact alone of course is not extremely unusual.

BUT this verb is assuredly used 3 of those 4 times in reference to our Lord.

Seeing that fact very clearly ... I now am wondering if even the 4th use (Luke 17:8) might be a veiled reference to the Lord Jesus also!

Now let me be more specific.

Here is the verb on which we are focusing:  "sup."  In English it just means to eat supper!  In the Greek text it is spelled "deipneo" and means to dine or to take the principal evening meal!  It is from a root verb, "dapto," which means to devour! (Here's the English etymology:  It's from old French ... "soupe" which is a broth or soup, the traditional evening meal for French workers for centuries!)

Now let's look at the 4 times the verb is used in the Bible.  (It being a Greek word ... only the New Testament applies.  The Old Testament mostly comes to us via Hebrew.)

It is used by Jesus during the "Lord's Supper" in Luke 22:20 --- "Likewise also the cup after supper, (Jesus) saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

Then Paul uses it as he describes the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:25 --- "After the same manner also he (Jesus) took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."

And Jesus Himself again uses it in Revelation 3:20 --- "Behold, I (Jesus) stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

Therefore I can positively say this:  In at least 75% of the Bible uses of "deipneo" Jesus is the principal Subject!

Now ... let's look at the final occurrence of our word.  (Which is in reality the first time it appears in book order.)

Luke 17:8 --- "And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?"

This verse is in the middle of the "Parable of the Unprofitable Servant." 

You will remember it I'm sure.

It's the story Jesus taught of a man who had a servant who had worked all day plowing then feeding cattle.  Upon returning to the house (exhausted) the slave was not allowed to rest.  He was asked to cook supper then dress as a waiter and serve the meal ... THEN he could serve himself and his family!  (All of this without thanks from his master!)

What a parable!

And the biggest problem folks have with that paragraph of Scripture is the portrayal it gives of the master, the lord of that servant.  Our Heavenly Father we say is just not like that!  (Always demanding ... never being kind or thankful for what we try to do on His behalf!)

BUT ... WHAT IF THE EMPHASIS IS NOT ON THE FATHER BUT ON THE SERVANT? AND WHAT IF THE SERVANT HERE IS A PICTURE OF THE SON OF GOD?  (HE IS THE ONE IDENTIFIED WITH THE SUPPER ... AND ALL THE OTHER TIMES THE WORD IS USED IN THE BIBLE IT CERTAINLY HAS JESUS IN VIEW!)

But ... Preacher Bagwell, Jesus plowing? 

Jesus feeding cattle?

Jesus preparing a meal?

Jesus serving others?

Jesus doing MORE that is asked of Him?

YES!  YES!  YES!  YES!

Jesus was plowed by wicked man when He died on the Cross.  Jesus put His Hands to the Father's plow (Calvary) and did not turn back!

Jesus feeds (not cattle ... but) sheep!  He IS the Good Shepherd!  He IS the Great Shepherd! And He IS the Chief Shepherd!  (Use your concordances!  John, Hebrews and 1st Peter)

And Jesus serving others?  Serving us?

YES!

Jesus' very words again:  "Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them."  Luke 12:37  (Is Jesus speaking of Himself?  I believe so!)

Then ... listen to our Lord in Luke 22:26-27.  "But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."  (Wow!)

But here's even more "proof!"  Watch Jesus gird Himself and serve His Disciples by bathing their dirty feet!  "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.  And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;  Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;  He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.  After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded."  John 13:1-5

Jesus is THE PERFECT Servant!

Jesus is the precious Servant of the Lord Who did MORE than He was ever asked!

Jesus is the plowing, shepherding, meal preparing (a word picture of Calvary), serving, loving Saviour of mankind!  (Of all who believe)

Bless His Name!

I will never look at this little parable the same again!

Now I know for sure Who The PROFITABLE SERVANT really is!

No wonder the Father said of Him:  "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  Matthew 3:17

And no wonder we are told:  "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name."  Philippians 2:9

Isaiah's favorite name for Christ Jesus was:  The Servant of the Lord!

And the Gospel of Mark present Him as:  The Perfect Servant too!

Jesus: the Servant Saviour!

How can we help but love Him and adore Him and worship Him and (YES) serve Him as well!

He is LORD!

Hallelujah!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:

It is a startling statement.

After a certain "servant" has plowed and fed the livestock all day ... his "master" then commands him to come home, prepare the evening meal, dress himself as a "butler," and serve his "lord" that freshly cooked meal! 

And all this must be done BEFORE that servant can sit down and eat one bite of food himself!

The exact words of the text read:  "Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink."  Luke 17:8

In other words ... put everyone else before yourself please!

Now that sounds strange in today's world!

Others first ... myself last!

But that is the crux of the Christian way of life!

Jesus Himself lived in that manner!

Mark 10:45 tells us of Jesus:  "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

That surely is living for others!

And Paul teaches us Christians to ... "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another."  Romans 12:10

That verb in our verse "GIRD THYSELF" translates (Greek) "perizonnumi," which means to put a belt (or yoke) around oneself.  (That prefix "peri" means around!)

Strangely, in Luke 12:35-37 Jesus reverses this scene.  "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them."   That's amazing! The "lord" serving his slaves!

Next our verse says the servant is to do just what his name implies: serve!  In fact, his "lord" says, "SERVE ME!"

Again, others first!

That's is precisely a one word description of the way our Lord Jesus lived ... serving others!

Listen to Him in Luke 22:27 (using this same verb ... "diakoneo"):  "For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."  Jesus said He was among His own to serve them!

And He certainly served His Father! 

In John 8:29 Jesus says:  "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

And the word used adverbially, "afterward," translates the Greek preposition "meta." It means later (in time).  It has this adverbial sense of meaning in over 90 locations in the New Testament.  "Afterward" the servant will eat and drink!

(There is coming a day when Jesus will yet eat and drink in His Father's Kingdom also!  At the Lord's Supper Jesus told His disciples:  "For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God."  Luke 22:16)

And dear Christian friend ... go ahead and serve others during your days on earth! For in that future day of reward ... you WILL eat and drink at "the Marriage Supper of The Lamb!"  (Revelation 19:9 says: "And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.")

I believe this unnamed servant (called the "unprofitable" servant by many) pictures a "paradigm" of the Christian life!  A paradigm is a pattern or a type.

Serving others ... putting myself last!

John 13:1 describes Jesus --- "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."

Jesus loved His Own to the end!

Jeremiah even says that he loves us with "an everlasting love!"  See Jeremiah 31:1.

That is exactly what our Luke 17 parable illustrates!

Whom are you serving today?

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8 (TUESDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 26, 2004,  FROM A MOTEL ROOM IN CONNERSVILLE, INDIANA)

In the mind of our Lord Jesus certain things were just expected of His followers!

And OBEDIENCE was one of them!

In Jesus' short parable of the "unprofitable" servant (Luke 17:7-10) He certainly reveals his holy "Mindset" concerning a servant obeying his master!

Why, even if that servant did ALL that was commanded him ... that still was nothing special! 

If a "slave" did ALL his master required ... he still was just an "unprofitable" servant!

(The Lord here implies that to be "profitable" ... one must do MORE that is commanded!)

Jesus just expected obedience!

(I think Paul did too!  He called each of us "presenting our bodies a living sacrifice" to God as just "our reasonable service!"  Romans 12:1-2)

Jesus was such an OBEDIENT Saviour that He (frankly) expected us to obey too! Listen to what Paul says in Hebrews about Jesus:  "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;  and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."  Hebrews 5:8

I believe Jesus NEVER failed to obey His Father ... in any thing, in any way, at any time!  He Himself said in John 8:29 --- "For I do always those things that please the Father." Amazing!

The verse today that has "prompted" my thinking along this line is found in Luke 17:9.  "Doth he (the master) thank that servant (slave) because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not."

To Jesus ... doing ALL one was commanded is just the minimum!  THAT ALONE does not even draw thanks!

Look at that verb "commanded."  In Greek it is "diatasso."  It is a military word!  It means "to arrange"" (tasso) through and through (dia)!  That pictures a believer who has so studied and catalogued God's commands that he knows them by heart ... forward and backward so to speak!  He can then obey them himself and even share them with other followers of Christ!

This verb is passive ... telling us that someone other than the slave gave him the orders!  The master did, of course!

This verb is an aorist ... illustrating the fact that the action being described is already done (completed) in the past!

This servant really has plowed and fed cattle and cooked meals and served his master completely!

But here's the startling fact.  The FIRST time "diatasso" is used in the Bible ... Matthew 11:1 ... it is referencing Jesus our Lord.  "And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding ("diatasso") his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities."  

It's the verb Paul used to teach his young preachers too!  He said to Titus:  "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed (diatasso") thee."  Titus 1:5

It is used in the New Testament to describe rules for giving (1 Corinthians 16:1) and for the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:34) and for preacher's salaries (1 Corinthians 9:14) and for conduct concerning marriage (1 Corinthians 7:17) and even for a description of the constructing of the Tabernacle (Acts 7:44)!

And in Luke 8:55 it is linked with feeding a family member!  (As are commanding and feeding in our Luke 17 text also!)

This may seem a bit complex today as we have compared Scripture with Scripture ... so let me summarize.  JESUS EXPECTED OBEDIENCE FROM HIS FOLLOWERS!

Are you obeying Him today?

(Another example of Jesus' standard of living is found in Matthew 8:10 --- "When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."  Jesus was thrilled when He found great FAITH!  And in Mark 6:6 --- "And he (Jesus) marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching."  Jesus was shocked when mankind did not believe and obey His Word!  What a PERFECT Saviour we have!)

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9 ... WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2004, again from a motel room in connersville, indiana:

One part of this little parable that has been hard to understand is the fact that no "thanks" were ever offered to this hard-working servant!

After all, that's common courtesy, isn't it?

After the hard working slave has plowed, fed the livestock, cooked the master's evening meal (and served it) ... still no "appreciation" is expressed!

Why?

Of course in Jesus' day (and in the Greek-Roman-Jewish culture of that whole era) lords did NOT thank their slaves for anything.  They actually legally owned their servants!

But that's not why no appreciation is offered.

If this particular master represents our God (and likely he does) ... or so Jesus seems to imply, then things get a little clearer. 

And if the servant is a picture of you and me, saved by the Grace of God ... clearer yet again!

I can find no place in the whole Bible where God thanks man for anything!

I can't even find a place where Jesus (the God-Man) thanks anyone!

Of the 71 verses where "thanks" is used in the King James Bible ... NONE describe God thanking man!  (90% describe man thanking God)

Of the 27 additional verses where "thank" (with no ending "s") is used ...none are from God to man either! 

Of the 27 "thanksgiving" verses ... not one time does God thank man!

It's just a Bible fact!

God owes man no thanks!

What would the Almighty thank us for?

For plunging the world into sin?

For slaying His Son?

For frustrating His will?

For being such rebels?

No ... when it comes to Bible "thanks" ... it is ALWAYS given from man to God! From the servant to the master!

Wow!

And WHAT do we have to thank Him for?

For not sending us to Hell!

For sending Jesus to redeem us!

For the Cross of Calvary!

For the Blood of Jesus!

For convicting and saving our wretched souls!

For indwelling us with His Holy Spirit!

For answering our prayers!

For an eternity in Heaven!

And so much more!

I think we've found the answer  to our "parable problem."

No!

The master did not thank the servant ... even though he had done well!

Instead ... the slave should be thanking the master!

In fact ... maybe at that very point (when the faithful servant falls to his knees and thanks his lord) he becomes a "profitable" servant!

Lord, we all say to Thee today ... THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10:

Let's look at three little words in verse 9.  "I trow not." 

Jesus said that.  "I trow not."

Here's the whole verse.  "Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not."  It's a vital part of the short little parable called "The Unprofitable Servant." 

What do those words mean?

"I trow not."

The little verb "trow" translates a Greek word "dokeo" (pronounced dok-eh'-o) which means to think or to suppose be of a certain opinion.

Jesus here is actually letting us in on His thoughts!

Our Lord just could not imagine this master thanking a servant for only doing those things he was commanded to do!

"I trow not!"

The amazing thing here to me is that we are allowed to think right along with Jesus!  With the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of sinners!

One old preacher said that careful reading of the Bible allowed one to "think God's thoughts right after Him!"

Thinking like God?

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD."  Isaiah 55:8

Our poor human thoughts fall far short of God's great standard!  Proverbs 14:12 tells us:  "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."

Yet ... Almighty God does invite us to "think" with Him!

In Isaiah 1:18 He invites us to:  "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD."  Wow!

And Paul even implies that we can have the "mind of Christ!"  In Philippians 2:5 he says:  "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus ...."  We can perhaps in time via the Scriptures learn to think like the Lord did!  (Of course this is thinking that leads to behaving!)

But here's perhaps the BEST verse on thinking God's thoughts.  It's in 1st Corinthians 2:16 --- "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."  Now what he means precisely by the "mind of Christ" I do not know.  Is it the Word of God?  Or perhaps the Holy Spirit?  Either way, we have access to it says the great Apostle!

Preacher Bagwell, you can't think like God!  He would not even expect that!

Then explain to me Psalm 10:4.  "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts."  God is here upset with the wicked ... because they do not keep God in all their thoughts! What will He say to the righteous who ignore Him?

David prayed and asked the Lord to help him think right!  ("The meditation of his heart!")  Psalm 19:14 --- "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."

Paul further teaches us HOW to think like our Lord.  "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  Philippians 4:8

There's a lot of teaching in those three little words:  "I trow not!"

And I want to "trow" right along with Him, with Jesus my Lord and Saviour!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11:

Jesus said an interesting thing in Luke 17:10!

He has just told us of the hard-working servant whose day consisted of plowing the fields, feeding the cattle, cooking  supper for his master ... before caring for his own needs (and all this without a word of complaint)!  In fact the servant never heard one word of thanks for all he had done!

Then Jesus said it.

"So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say ...."

Notice those words carefully: "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say ...." (Luke 17:10)

Jesus is literally telling us that we are to obey and serve (without giving complaint or receiving thanks) until we have done all that we are commanded!

As I rested in bed early today I kept wondering:  Just what does Jesus expect from us?

Is it all right with Him if we are lazy and half-hearted and lukewarm and insincere (if not even hypocritical) like many of today's so-called Christians?

Or does He expect more?

I believe this little parable today answers that question!

The word "likewise" in Greek is a conjunction which means:  and, also or even. Jesus tells us AND YOU ALSO NEED TO DO ALL YOU'VE BEEN COMMANDED!

What "standard" of service does Jesus expect from His Own followers?

Surely the grace of God and the hardness of the times in which we live are to be considered!  The Lord would not expect of us TOTAL obedience, would He?

YES!

The Lord has not changed!

Listen to Him in early Matthew.

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)  "Perfect" here does not mean sinless.  "Teleios" means to reach the goal ... to be mature ... to be fully furnished ... to lack nothing!  (Sounds like a high standard to me!)

Listen to Jesus answer a lawyer's question one day in Matthew 22:37.  "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."  Wow!   (That does not sound much like "go-to-church-once-a-month" Christianity does it?)

Then in Mark 12:30 Jesus even adds to it!  "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."  (Strength is now included!) 

Would Jesus approve of our careless talk?  Or dress?  Or lifestyles in general?

Would He approve of our lack of fervent love?

And seriously, how about church attendance?

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read."  This verse, Luke 4:16, tells of Jesus' first recorded sermon.  Note that almost incidentally we are informed that it was "His custom" to attend synagogue on the Sabbath day! Would He expect any less of us than faithful support of our local church? (Especially when later he had Paul write:  "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is!"  Hebrews 10:25)

Our giving financially to the cause of Christ?  Our tithing to the church?

Matthew 23:23 answers that one.  Jesus is talking: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."  He mentioned their meticulous tithing (even to one leaf in ten off their herb plants) ... but condemned their lack of mercy!  BUT He quickly approved their tithing ("These things ye OUGHT to have done!") in even the smallest matters!  I don't guess the Lord would be too pleased with some giving records now days!

And even in Gethsemane, where He agonized so deeply in body, soul and spirit ... Jesus found the three disciples sleeping and asked "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?"  (Matthew 26:40)  He had expected them to intercede with him for a few hours!

It sounds to me like the Lord's idea of Christian service is pretty noble! 

Even to giving up some precious things?

Jesus again:  "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive ...." (Matthew 19:29) Wow!  Give up what, Lord?

Again, a high standard!

I wonder what He Who told the parable of the "unprofitable servant" is going to say to us 21st century believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

He (Jesus) Who said ... "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."  Luke 17:10

Enough has been said.

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12:  (FROM SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA)

Jesus continues teaching.  He says, even if you think you've obeyed Me completely: "Say, We are unprofitable servants."  That is so startling!

The verb "say" (in Greek = "lego") is a command!  (An imperative!)  It, being in the present tense, says:  keep on saying this too!

The adjective "unprofitable" which follows the continuous action "we are" (the "eimi" root in Greek) means not useful!  The Greek word is spelled:  achreios.  The prefix "a" means no or not.  The root "chre" means useful or suitable or needful!  It comes from a root that means "to furnish what is needed!"

We only become truly productive for the Lord when we do MORE that is required!

That's what Jesus is saying?

I strongly suspect that's how He lived His life on this earth!  Seeking constantly to do MORE that anyone expected as He pleased His Father!  Listen to Him in John 8:29 --- "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

Wow!

What a challenge!

In fact, this may be the greatest challenge to godly service in all the Bible!

Here would be a great Bible study.  Revisit the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus' first coming and see in how many areas He not only fulfilled them ... but excelled and superseded them!

HE was a profitable servant!

In fact, He is The Profitable Servant!

Amen!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 13:

I began to wonder about this "profitable" business!  Especially when it comes to servants!

If one can do "all those things which are commanded" ... and still be unprofitable to the master, what is necessary to be "profitable" to him?

I searched the Scriptures carefully.

In the great old Testament Book of Job Eliphaz asks a question.  Listen to him. "Can a man be profitable unto God?"

And in Jeremiah 13:7 the prophet's "girdle" (an emblem of "service") is said to be "profitable for nothing!"  This is a girdle that had been never washed!  And was buried in a hole in the side of the Euphrates River for a time!  And became "marred" in the process!  "Marred" means corrupted, ruined or decayed!  (First used in Scripture in Genesis 6:11 of the pre-flood earth!  "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.")

Yet Solomon in Ecclesiastes 10:10 says:  "But wisdom is profitable to direct." Wisdom is profitable!  (This verse deserves more careful study!)  Maybe if we servants of the Lord can gain more and more real Wisdom we shall become more and more profitable to Him Whom we love!

And then I found them!

Two young men in the Bible who are directly and distinctly called "profitable" in the Lord's service!

Watch them with me.

Paul says to Timothy:  "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."  2 Timothy 4:11  (John Mark was a "profitable" servant to Paul!)

And ... Philemon verse 11 says of Onesimus:  "Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me!"  (The very name Onesimus has the idea of "profit" in it!)  And ... remember ... he IS a slave!  We here according to Paul surely have a profitable servant!

Now I am sure the Lord is going to call a whole lot more of His servants "profitable" at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  BUT only these 2 young men are so called in the Bible!

Who are they?

A former "quitter" (John Mark) and a former runaway slave (Onesimus)!

Talk about a turnaround!

A real revival occurred in their lives!

Surely if a quitter and a fugitive can become "profitable" servants ... we can too!

Of course it is only possible by means of the sweet Grace of God!

Let's go plow some fields ... and feed some cattle ... and prepare the meals ... and serve them (to and for our dear Lord)!

After all ... judgment day is coming when all our "deeds" done will be examined by our Master also!  ("For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."  2 Corinthians 5:10)

                                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 14 ... NOVEMBER 3, 2004 (WEDNESDAY) FROM SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA: 

Jesus just called it his "duty!"

He was speaking of a servant in a little parable in Luke 17.

He had worked hard all day long!  He had plowed and fed livestock and then prepared a meal for his master, even serving that meal!

But Jesus offers him no hope of any thanks!

The Saviour simply encouraged him to say of himself, "I am an unprofitable servant!  I have done that which is my duty!"

So today let's look at that word "duty."

It might not be so important but Jesus in Luke 17:10 compared us as Christian workers (for our Lord) to that servant who had labored so hard for his lord!

"So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."

"Duty" here is a noun of course.  In Greek it's spelled "opheilo" and means a debt! (That which is owed to another!)

This hard working slave just thought:  "I owe everything to my master!  I have no complaints!  I can never repay him for his good will to me!"

Wow!

What had that master (in the parable) done for the servant?

We are not told!

But it must have been substantial!

So much so that it kept back any grumbling or any hesitation or even any need for thanks!

Maybe that master had redeemed him from some slave market!  Maybe he had bought back something the servant had lost due to neglect or foolishness!

Also that word "duty" is derived from a verb base which means "to heap up treasures!"  This loyal servant is "heaping up treasures" for his dear benefactor and master!  He wants to help make that lord successful!

Wow!

And for some reason I can't discern, the verb "have done" is doubled in this part of our verse.  It literally says ... "We have done ... having done ... our duty."  (Usually such "doubling" is for emphasis!) The verb twice used here is "poieo," to do or to make" ... the very word that gives us in English terms like poem or poet or poetry!  (That's doing something that is lovely, beautiful, harmonious, well arranged, pleasant!)

Christian brother or sister, are we doing our DUTY to our Lord today?

What a debt we owe Him!  (Not to be saved by works!  No!  That's a gift of God! Salvation is by Grace!  BUT to serve Him because we love Him is the idea here!

What's our Lord done for us?

Jesus DIED for us!  He shed His Blood to wash away our sins!

How could we ever grumble at his assignments?

And, yes, we too should desire "to heap up treasures" to place at our Lord's feet some golden daybreak!

Today, via the study of the Word of God and prayer, find your DUTY before God! Then get busy faithful servant ... busy doing what He's commanded or expected or even insinuated for you to do!

Be a PROFITABLE servant!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

LORD ... MAKE US ALL "PROFITABLE" SERVANTS!

 

 

 

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