Truly, I say to you,
he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table,
and he will come and serve them.
This particular promise from the Lord is found in a section of Luke where Jesus is teaching the disciples about being prepared (or not) for the time of judgment and the second coming. On the one hand, he stresses that we are all known and under the care of the heavenly Father. Worrying and being anxious cannot add a single hour to a person's life (v. 25), because "it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (v. 32). But this is no invitation to kick back and wait for God to deal with it all, or to spend our time and gifts on whatever floats your boat.
Jesus makes it clear we are stewards -- no, even more, slaves, who have been given gifts to manage and work with to the glory of the Father. We are to "stay dressed for action and keep [our] lamps burning" (v. 35). In Biblical times, men who went to work needed to tie their long flowing robes up with a belt to prevent entanglement, or simply discard the robe for manual labor in a loin cloth. Without electricity, the oil burning lamps had to be kept burning and their wicks tended regularly for work to be done indoors or after dark. We are to be about the business of delivering God's good gifts of everyday life in everyday circumstances to our neighbors in the seemingly mundane tasks that make life healthy and comfortable for all. In short, we have tasks that the Master expects us to do to the benefit of our neighbors. The whole notion of "while the cat is away the mice will play" is simply to be foreign to the Christian and his way in the world.
Jesus promise here is somewhat of a surprise, it seems to me. The good and faithful slave who has worked at his task and remained awake in his work will be invited to the master's table where the roles will be reversed. The master will dress himself for service, have the faithful slaves recline, and he (the master) will serve them (the slaves). This is not what one would expect from a typical master/slave relationship. One would expect a returning master to order the slaves to prepare a feast for the master and his friends and cohorts. But of course, our Master is different. "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many." Such is the will and the way of our gracious God. The only true response for a slave with such a master is to attempt to do likewise.
In our daily tasks, as we utilize our time, treasure, and talents as faithful slaves of a gracious Master, we do well to stay focused on our tasks serving one another in ways that bring peace, comfort, and joy to others. Jesus has served us by dressing for his task and work, redeeming us from our sin by His suffering and death on the cross. Thank you for your service, Lord.