Luke 12:42

ESV And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?
NIV The Lord answered, 'Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?
NASB And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?
CSB The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and sensible manager his master will put in charge of his household servants to give them their allotted food at the proper time?
NLT And the Lord replied, 'A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.
KJV And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

What does Luke 12:42 mean?

Jesus is teaching the disciples what He expects of them after His ascension. At the time, however, they don't know He will leave them. He has given a parable about servants who diligently wait for their master to return, no matter how late he may be. Jesus wants His followers to likewise be prepared for His return. When He says it is time to work, they should be ready—even though they don't know when He is coming (Luke 12:35–40).

The disciples and Jesus are surrounded by thousands of people (Luke 12:1). Peter wants to know if Jesus' words apply just to the disciples or to everyone (Luke 12:41). Likely, Peter doesn't like being compared to a servant. Jesus explains that they are servants but also leaders of servants and thus have more responsibility (Luke 12:43–48).

Here, Jesus asks a rhetorical question to focus the disciples' attention on what He will say next. He doesn't expect the disciples to answer; it's more of a challenge to the disciples to give them something to aspire to.

The first responsibility these servant-leaders have is to feed the other servants. This is in contrast with the religious leaders in Ezekiel 34. God judges the leaders of Israel, saying, "Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep" (Ezekiel 34:2–3).

"Food" can be metaphorical or literal. Metaphorically, Jesus is the bread that gives life, and it is the responsibility of the church leaders to "feed" their people with the truth about Jesus (John 6:35). Literally, in the beginning years of the church, Jesus-followers shared what they had with the disciples, and the disciples dispersed the offerings to those in need. When the Greek-speaking widows were left out, the disciples commissioned deacons to make the distribution fair (Acts 6:1–6).

Later, in a poignant moment with Peter, Jesus will tell him to "feed my sheep" and then warn Peter that he would be crucified (John 21:15–19). Peter's story includes some missteps, but he does learn to serve sacrificially like His master.
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