Luke 12:36

ESV and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.
NIV like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.
NASB You are also to be like people who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door for him when he comes and knocks.
CSB You are to be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks, they can open the door for him at once.
NLT as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks.
KJV 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.

What does Luke 12:36 mean?

Luke 9:51—19:27 is sometimes labeled as "The Travelogue to Jerusalem." The text does not give a detailed account of Jesus' travels from Galilee to Jerusalem, but recounts how He prepares His disciples to process His impending crucifixion and resurrection, and to build the church. Jesus wants them to recognize the signs of the coming kingdom of God and teach others, as well. Luke 12:35–40 includes a general warning to be alert and ready to serve when needed.

Jesus compares the disciples to servants of a man who is away at a wedding feast. The servants do not know when their master will return; wedding feasts in that culture could last up to a week. Good servants keep the home and themselves prepared to greet their master at any hour. This parable must confuse the disciples. They expect Jesus to gather followers, go to Jerusalem, and free Israel from Roman occupation. The parable, however, infers that Jesus will go away and return. The disciples don't yet grasp that Jesus will die, be raised again, and ascend into heaven while they build the church. Jesus tells them this parable so they will remember what to do when He does leave (John 14:26).

The wording used here resembles that of another parable. In Matthew 25:1–13, Jesus tells the story of ten virgins who await the arrival of the bridegroom who will take them to his wedding. They do not know when he will appear. Five of them have enough oil to last the night; the other five run out. The five who are alert and prepared go with the bridegroom; the five with no oil are rejected.

Much later, Jesus will tell John His judgment of the church at Laodicea. He says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20). Jesus' servants can't open the door if they're not awake enough to hear His knock.

This parable is not meant to refer to the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7). There, Jesus' followers will be present with Him, not awaiting Jesus' return.
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