11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas,and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief;21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”
Faithful With What We Have
Around this time of year, we remember Jesus coming to Jerusalem in order to die. Jesus told this parable as a summary of both his going away and his return. We often focus on Jesus’ love in the death and resurrection, but this story focuses on the judgment. Some of us who were raised under fire and brimstone preachers and teachers may feel like we have had enough of judgment already. However, Jesus won’t let us off the hook with a plain reading of Luke 19. He is going away but when he comes back people will be judged by what they have done with what they are given. Those who did not accept Jesus as king will be slaughtered in front of him. In our age of life-sentences and commuted sentences, we find sentences of hours of community service or years in prison to be severe. We do not kill people in western society for most crimes. Even for murder, the occurrence of the death penalty is fairly rare. The idea of people being slaughtered in front of a king to satisfy justice is barbaric. However, where the death penalty is practiced, it is often practiced with witnesses. Those who execute the justice and those who have suffered great loss see the just punishment, measure for measure, of the one who committed the crime. What the Bible has us accept, then, is that opposition to Jesus and refusal to submit to him as king is worthy of death.
Working back up through the passage, there are those who are insiders who do nothing with what they are given. There is debate as to whether we are talking about the ‘saved’ person. Whether the person who buried their mina was saved or unsaved, they are in a position that is to be greatly avoided. Just like the similar story in Mathew 25, the person who wastes their gift blames the character of the Master. They shift the blame away from themselves and languish in a false view of Jesus. many who had once understood a simple picture of Jesus develop that picture in unbiblical and distorted ways. The fundamental question is whether the believer will define Jesus, allow others to define Jesus, or will allow Jesus to define Jesus. Do we know enough about who he is? The Bible contains truths that will cause us to meditate and grow in knowledge and depth of insight eternally.
The results of our efforts are in the hands of God. God rewards as he sees fit. The truly faithful servant takes what they have and give it to Jesus in humble service. Although he is an absent king, he is king of their lives and their conduct. This submission to Jesus has its reward. However, that reward is not a constant. We receive as a reward whatever providence allows. So in exercising the gifts and receiving the reward Jesus is the focus.
Many Christians today have accepted Jesus in a way that serves their own limited agenda. All the Christians I know are broken in some way and still struggle with self. However, Jesus is king and grants victory even though he has not returned. Either on this world or on a new Earth, he will cause his people to flourish. It is best to set ourselves up as loyal subjects in this life and then the return of the future king will cause us to rejoice.
I am still unaware of my gifts and abilities to some degree. However, I am aware of doors of opportunity that you open. Help me to be faithful with what you have given me, to overcome self, and to build your kingdom.
- What was the occasion for this passage?
- What is Jesus’ emphasis?
- What would be an appropriate response from his listeners?
- What ‘mina’ has Jesus given to all people?
- How do you use the gift that Jesus has given you?