Luke 17:8 ESV – Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’?
We continue with the parable of the unworthy servants with Jesus describing the more natural response to the previous question, “What do you tell a servant after he comes in from the field?” Jesus expects us to tell our servants to do 3 things after the work day is over:
- Prepare supper
- Dress properly
- Serve me through dinner
Only after doing these 3 activities will the servant then have a chance to rest and nourish him or herself. The first command described by Jesus is to prepare supper. This is not a simple task today, let alone back in Jesus’ time. The purpose of preparing supper is so that the master will not have to work on preparing the food. He can just sit back and relax while he smells sweet aromas wafting from the kitchen.
The proper dress is required of a servant so that he doesn’t look filthy while he’s in the presence of the master. Remember from the previous verse that the servant has just come in from plowing the field. He is dirty and sweaty. Not only would he be expected to dress properly, but I’m sure a bath would be in order so that he doesn’t reek of dirt and oxen droppings. This is all so the master will see something pleasing as he prepares to eat.
Finally, the servant’s job is to serve the master dinner. This is the presentation of all the work he’s completed. Non-verbally, this is when the servant can say to the master, “I’ve plowed your field, made supper, and prepared myself to be presentable. Now, here, taste the fruit of my labor and look at me and be pleased.” If any mistakes are made – the food tastes horrible, the servant looks dirty, or the supper is not served properly – the servant will have to go back and remake dinner.
Remember that Jesus is using this part of the parable descriptively. This is how we *would* treat a servant if we had one. He’s not necessarily assigning moral value, but simply stating, “If you had a man who owed you his life, isn’t this how you would treat him?” He asks this rhetorically, knowing that the disciples will agree with him, thinking, “Yes, that is how I would treat my servant.” It’s not wrong; it’s just the way it is.
The application I’d like to see today is if the tables were turned. There’s no one I know that owes me their life, but I owe my life to someone: Jesus. I should be serving Him. Even more practically, however, I owe a lot of my happiness to my wife and kids. As a husband and father, I should be a servant leader to them. I should focus on their needs before my own: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Today, I need to serve my family.