The Master Servant
. . . so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)
To me, the Bible’s most astonishing image of Christ’s second coming is in Luke 12:35–37, which pictures the return of a master from a marriage feast like this:
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 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. 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.”
To be sure, we are called servants — and that no doubt means we are to do exactly as we are told. But the wonder of this picture is that the “master” insists on serving. We may have expected this during Jesus’s ministry on earth, since he said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). But Luke 12:35–37 is a picture of the second coming, when the Son of Man comes in the blinding glory of his Father “with his mighty angels in flaming fire” as 2 Thessalonians 1:7–8 says. Why would Jesus be portrayed as a table waiter at the second coming?
Because the very heart of his glory is the fullness of grace that overflows in kindness to needy people. This is why Ephesians 2:7 says he aims “in the coming ages [to] show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
What is the greatness of our God? What is his uniqueness in the world? Isaiah answers: “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4 RSV). There is no other god like this. He never relinquishes the role of inexhaustible benefactor of his ever-dependent, happy people.