Luke 12:37

ESV Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.
NIV It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.
NASB Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will prepare himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and he will come up and serve them.
CSB Blessed will be those servants the master finds alert when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will get ready, have them recline at the table, then come and serve them.
NLT The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!
KJV 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.

What does Luke 12:37 mean?

Jesus continues His parable (Luke 12:35–36). The owner of a house is at a wedding feast; his servants do not know when he will return. The faithful servants keep lights on and stand ready to attend to their master whenever he may return. When the master arrives and sees his servants waiting, he is so pleased he sits them down and prepares their own meal.

This picture is one of many examples of how Jesus breaks social convention. He has told them that the outwardly pious Pharisees are hypocrites and that secrets will be proclaimed from the housetops (Luke 12:1–3). He said that when councils and rulers threaten their lives for teaching about Jesus, the disciples are not to fear death. Instead, the judges will be judged and the disciples will be held by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:4–12). Then, Jesus told the disciples they are not to covet the world's wealth. Further, they shouldn't feel angst over life's necessities because God will provide as needed (Luke 12:13–34).

These counter-intuitive instructions are grounded in knowing that the kingdom of God has different priorities than life on earth. Jesus will later say, "let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves" (Luke 22:26). Jesus will "dress Himself for service" when He ties a towel around His waist and washes the disciples' feet (John 13:4).

Jesus will tell another parable that seems to have the opposite meaning. He mentions servants who work hard in the field all day and come home expecting their master to serve them. Instead, the master tells them to prepare his supper, and then they can eat (Luke 17:7–10). On closer look, however, the meaning is the same. God's servants should be prepared to do His work, not expecting a great reward, but knowing their needs will be met.

From our point of view, it seems that Jesus is talking about the "wedding feast of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:7–10). He will return and take His faithful servants and hold a feast. It would be hasty to take this point of view, however; the story more likely refers to a more general reward. It is worth mentioning that this parable must have confused the disciples at the time. They didn't know that Jesus would be crucified, return to life, then ascend to heaven for an indeterminate amount of time. To them, the returning master represents the fulfillment of the kingdom of God, which they likely think of as political independence from Rome and blessings from God. It won't be until the ascension that Jesus' meaning becomes clear. Their job is to declare the inauguration of God's kingdom, that the Messiah has come and given the world an opportunity for redemption, and the eventual fulfillment of God's kingdom when Jesus returns and rules.
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