What happens when the King returns?

Remember Jesus’ parable of the ten minas? The story is told in Luke 19:11-27. In it, Jesus tells the story of a man who leaves his country and returns to check on his servants. Most of us have read or heard this story as a challenge to be good stewards of our personal possessions and talents, because God expects us to use them for his glory. I think we should use all of our possessions and talents for the glory of God, but I’m not sure that is exactly the point that Luke, and Jesus, was trying to make.

Luke introduces the parable by writing, “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” (19:11). Based on this information we know that the parable has something to do with Jesus going to Jerusalem. And it also has something to do with the kingdom of God and the people’s conception of it. Now, see how the story unfolds.

“A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us’” (vs. 12-14).

What was the purpose of the nobleman’s trip? He went to receive his rightful authority and power over the people he ruled. Some of his servants were given responsibility over his business. (Jesus doesn’t say why they were chosen.) But his own people “hated him.” They didn’t want to have anything to do with this nobleman and his rule over them. What then would the nobleman do when he returned?

“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. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 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’” (vs. 15-17).

When the nobleman came home he settled accounts with his servants. Two of the servants had earned more with what they had been given, and the nobleman rewarded them for it. But there was another servant who out of fear had failed to invest what the nobleman had given him. His master took away his mina and gave it to another, with the point being that “to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (v. 26). In other words, these servants were expected to be faithful to the commands of their master. Failure to do so meant forfeiting those things for which they were responsible.

But that’s not the end of the story. What about the citizens who opposed the nobleman’s reign? “‘But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me’” (v. 27). See, the nobleman returned not only for the sake of his servants, but to judge those who rejected his rule.

So what was Jesus point? Luke helps us understand it in his introduction (v. 11): it deals with Jerusalem and the kingdom of God. Jesus, the rightful king of the kingdom, was on his way to Jerusalem. Luke tells us a few verses later how he wept over the city because they were going to reject him and then face destruction (vs. 41-44). If only they had responded to their king when they had the chance! They were much like the rebellious citizens in the parable. And their destruction was just as sure. Yet, there were those who heard the message of the kingdom of God from Jesus, and much like the servants were faithful with what they had been entrusted. These, Jesus’ disciples, were given the mission and responsibility of working for the kingdom. They received the commendation of “well done, good servant!”

The truth of this parable extends into our own time. There are still many today who hear the good news of the kingdom and faithfully live to serve their king. Sadly, many who profess to receive the kingdom fail to honor their king with their service. The result for them is that “even what he has will be taken away.” Don’t be that guy! Be a faithful servant! Yet, even more tragically, there are still those who actively oppose Jesus. They have no interest in him or his rule over them, and their future looks very bleak. Pray with me that God will turn their hearts towards him before it’s too late.