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’?
NIV Won't he rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'?
NASB On the contrary, will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?
CSB Instead, will he not tell him, 'Prepare something for me to eat, get ready, and serve me while I eat and drink; later you can eat and drink'?
NLT No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’
KJV 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?

What does Luke 17:8 mean?

Jesus continues to teach His disciples about their responsibilities in God's kingdom. He is speaking to future church leaders here: those who "plow," a metaphor for the work of evangelism (Luke 10:2; 1 Corinthians 3:5–7), and "shepherds," which typically refers to pastors (Ephesians 4:11). When they are done with the day's work, dirty and sweaty from their labor, they should not expect to recline at the table and enjoy a feast (Luke 17:7). They need to prepare their master's meal, change to proper clothing, and serve their master.

It's important not to read more out of Scripture than the author intended, but the section does include imagery used elsewhere of the resurrection. Jesus' followers will "dress properly" in white when they receive their new bodies (Revelation 3:5). Then they will enjoy a feast (Revelation 19:6–9). Before that, however, the disciples prepare Jesus a banquet at the Last Supper (Luke 22:8–13).

This passage may appear to contradict the parable Jesus taught in Luke 12:35–37. There, He indicated that if the servants keep the house ready for the master's arrival, the master will bless them by sitting them at the table and serving them. In Luke 12, the emphasis is on continuing to serve while awaiting Jesus' return. In this parable, the emphasis is on serving in humility without an entitled demand for reward. God will respond to our work (1 Corinthians 3:10–15) by His grace (Matthew 20:1–16), not because our work as His humble servants deserves His attention.
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