In Matthew 24:36-51, Jesus tells us no one knows when he will return. Therefore, we should be ready because He will return when we least expect it. In Matthew 24:45, Jesus asks, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?” (Matthew 24:45 NIV).

Conversely, Jesus describes another servant.

But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’

Matthew 24:48 (NIV)

Who is the faithful servant in Matthew 24:45? Is the servant in Matthew 24:48 the same or a different servant?

On the one hand, we have the faithful servant who takes care of his master’s household, and when the master returns, the servant is rewarded. On the other hand, we have a wicked servant who doesn’t think the master is returning anytime soon, so he abuses the other servants and lives however he wants. Is Jesus saying in verse 48 that the faithful servant was faithful but then became wicked because they changed their mind about the Lord’s return?

The faithful and wicked servants are different because of what Jesus said would happen to the evil servant.

He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 24:51 (NIV)

Furthermore, I cannot imagine the “place with the hypocrites” where there’s “weeping and gnashing of teeth” to be anywhere but hell. Since that place is hell, the faithful and wicked servants cannot be the same. If we consider the faithful servant as becoming the evil servant, then that suggests we can lose our salvation, or if we think that the place where the hypocrites are located isn’t hell but some low-rent place in Heaven- that doesn’t make sense either. The evil servant was faithless. What does the Bible say about faith?

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

Instead, Jesus tells us we can go one of two ways. We can be faithful and be ready for when He returns, or we can be faithless and not prepared when he returns. In the first case, I believe the person was saved. I don’t see the person as being saved in the second case. Perhaps they thought they were saved, but they never lived like it. This reminds me of Matthew 7:23.

Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:23 (NIV)

We should live as if the Lord will return at any moment because even if he doesn’t return in our lifetime, we will face judgment when we die. Therefore, if I’m ready right now for Jesus to return tomorrow afternoon at tea-time, I will be prepared to meet him tonight if I die in my sleep. Right?