A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Jesus was traveling through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem. It was early in the day on Palm Sunday. A rumor had sprung up among the crowds following Him that when He got there He was going to establish His Kingdom and defeat all their enemies. He told them this parable as a way of clarifying how things would happen.
By the way, you’ll notice some scholars saying that this is just another version of the Parable of the Talents. But while the two stories are generally similar there are too many material differences to make them two versions of the same event. Let’s read it.
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ (Luke 19:12-13)
As will become clear the man of noble birth represents Jesus who after His resurrection went to Heaven to be made King of the whole Earth. And the servants represent His followers. In the monetary system of the day, a drachma was about one day’s wage. It took 100 drachmas to equal one mina, and 60 minas to equal 1 talent. Note that each servant was given an equal amount (one mina), a much smaller sum than even the least of the three servants in the Parable of the Talents. And remember, a parable is a heavenly truth put into an earthly context, so everything is symbolic of something else. Therefore, the mina represents something as valuable to the Lord as about 3 months wages would be to us.
When we reviewed the Parable of the Talents we saw that the money there represented His Word, the Lord’s most prized possession. Psalm 138:2 says He values His word even above His name. It’s reasonable to assume it’s the same here, especially since history tells us that the one thing the Lord left His followers with was the Gospel, His Word.
According to E.W. Bullinger’s “Number In Scripture” the number 10 denotes a completeness of order. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete. The 10 servants and 10 minas indicate that before the Lord left He gave everyone necessary everything they needed to spread His Word through out the world.
“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ (Luke 19:14)
Here’s another difference between the two parables. No such impression is conveyed in the Parable of the Talents. There the man was simply going on a journey. Here he’s going off to be made King and some people don’t like it. 30 years previously a similar event had actually taken place. When Herod Archelaus went to Rome to be made King as his father’s successor, a delegation of 50 Jews followed him from Israel where they petitioned Caesar to give them a Roman governor instead of Archelaus. According to Josephus over 8,000 Jews who lived in Rome gathered in the palace to support them as they presented their case against Archelaus.
Needless to say Archelaus was not pleased, and after he was appointed in spite of their pleas he made his displeasure known to his subjects. It may be that Jesus used the incident to remind them (and us) of the dangers in rejecting a duly appointed King. If so, the warning fell mostly on deaf ears. A short time later Israel rejected its King and since then untold millions of Gentiles have done the same thing.
“He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. (Luke 19:15)
There was never any doubt that Jesus would be our King. With His blood He redeemed the entire creation from its bondage to decay (Romans 8:21) and since then all that remains is for Him to take possession of that which He has purchased. That day is coming soon, and when it does there will be loud voices in Heaven saying:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)
Two verses later, in Rev. 11:17, God is described as “the one who is and who was.” No more “and who is to come.” From Heaven’s perspective, His reign will have already begun even though on Earth the Great Tribulation is still to come. Satan and his followers may see the Great Tribulation as a war to determine who will control Earth, but the Lord sees it as a judgment where Israel will be purified and the nations will be completely destroyed. (Jeremiah 30:8-11) Satan is merely being used to help Him accomplish this. (Rev. 17:17) There’s never been any doubt as to the outcome.
When He returns, The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zechariah 14:9)
We’ll soon see that the King’s servants and His subjects are two different groups. The first order of business is to receive a report from the servants. How have they invested His most precious commodity?
“The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
” ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
“His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ (Luke 19:16-19)
Getting a 1000% or even a 500% return on a small investment is commendable. But it’s unlikely to qualify someone to govern 5 or 10 cities. Remember, this is a parable. Everything is symbolic of something else. The lesson here is that faithfulness in small matters will always bring disproportionate rewards where the Lord’s work is concerned. And even though the timing is the second coming, the lesson is universal. For example, our willingness to share the Gospel with even one person could result in a thousand souls saved over time.
“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
“His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ (Luke 19:20-23)
The King was not agreeing with the third servant’s assessment of his character. Rather, he was saying, “If you think that’s the kind of person I am, reaping what I didn’t sow, then you should have made sure that my money would at least earn me some interest.” The contradiction between his words and his actions was obvious and became the basis for the king’s judgment against him.
“Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
” ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.” (Luke 19:20-26)
Just as each servant was given the same amount of money, we’ve all been given the same basic truth of the gospel and can say as Paul said,
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Jesus died for our sins, and the proof that His death was sufficient to save us is found in the Resurrection. The Old Testament foretold this, and the New Testament confirms it. It’s the Gospel in its simplest form. The more we share it with others the more we’ll gain. In addition to saving another soul, teaching someone else the Gospel results in a deeper understanding for us.
By his own admission, the third servant proved he didn’t know his master. His perception of the man was all wrong, and while he called himself a servant, he didn’t do even the minimum that was asked of Him. He represents the “in name only” Christian who really has nothing, and will be surprised to find even that being taken away.
After the Lord comes back He’ll conduct a series of judgments where those who have survived the Great Tribulation will have to give account for themselves. At issue will be whether they’ve shown that they want Him as their King or not. Those who have will be welcomed into the Kingdom. Those who haven’t will be banished to the place prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matt. 25:41)
By this parable the Lord was showing that He wouldn’t be setting up His Kingdom in the way the people expected, but would be leaving soon to be made King. When He returns He’ll reward His followers, punish His enemies, and then He’ll establish His Kingdom. Selah 08-08-09