Grace For The Journey
We have been making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke and we are in Luke 19 today. We will be studying verses 11-27. I invite you to see this passage as it is intended to be seen . . .
Not as a parable about money and
About being good stewards of our money,
but as a parable about how to live
Our lives until Jesus Christ returns.
That is what this parable is about.
Jesus has spoken about this matter of His Second Coming more than once in the Gospel of Luke. He has told us to be prepared for that Day. Just to jog our memory, all we need to do it look In Luke 12:35-40, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching” … “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” And in Luke 17:22-30, “Then He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it (in other words, My second coming will not happen during the lifetime of the twelve disciples. It will occur much later). And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation …”
Jesus has already said that His second coming will occur not during the lifetime of the twelve Disciples and, in fact, it will occur much later. He makes the same point today in this parable in verses 11-27, a parable often referred to as the “Parable of the Minas.” A mina was a form of currency. One mina equaled 3 months wages. As we look at this parable about the Lord’s Second Coming note what Jesus teaches about how we are to live until Christ returns.
In my devotional reading this week, one morning this text spoke to me from 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” I invite you to hear the Word of God the way the Thessalonians heard the Word of God. They received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
It is often said that the most important thing in our lives is what we do with the “dash.” The dash is a reference to the line on many tombstones, the line between birth and death. We read a tombstone and it says something like, “John Smith; Born 1925 – (dash) – Died 1999.” The dash on that tombstone represents the years John Smith lived. So . . . “What are you doing with your ‘dash?’”
I think that is a helpful question, but I want to expand it so that we think in a bigger, more biblically-focused way. Because . . .
Far more important than the dash
Of our own individual lives,
Is the greater dash that stands
Between Christ’s first coming
And His second coming.
This is the greater, bigger, more significant dash that affects every person in all of humanity in all of time. Every dash of a human life is part of the greater dash of God’s redemptive work and perfect purposes in the life and death of Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to think this morning, as you think about the dash of your own life between birth and death, that you think about how your life fits into the greater dash between Christ’s first and second comings. Because this passage is about living during that dash. In fact, I really think that is the heading that would be best to place across the top of this parable in our Bibles. You may have something like, “The Parable of the Minas” or something like that. This is a parable of . . .
How we are to live during this delay
Christ’s first and second comings.
It is not a parable primarily about money or even Christian giving. To be sure, there are implications here about giving, but the parable is primarily about Christian living. Maybe that is a useful thing to write across the top of the parable: “Not about Giving, but really about Living.” How to live during the delay between Christ’s first and second comings.
Verse 11 says, “Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.” The phrase “as they heard these things” refers to Jesus’ conversation with Zacchaeus in verses 9-10. Jesus’ audience likely thought that as Jesus made His way the remaining 17 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem that the Kingdom of God would be set up in all its fullness. Many of them knew the Old Testament prophecies and perhaps they were even thinking, “Wow, we are getting closer and closer to Jerusalem. Jesus is going to rule, reign, and defeat all our enemies at Jerusalem!” Perhaps they were even reviewing some of the Old Testament prophecies like Zechariah 14:4, “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west,” and Zechariah 14:3, “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.” We are not left to wonder why Jesus told this parable. Verses 11 and 12 tells us why: “He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: ‘A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.’” Herod the Great in 40 BC, as well as his son Archelaus in 4 BC, went to Rome to receive confirmation of their roles as king. While his son Archelaus was not granted the rule and reign he sought, Herod was granted the title king, king over Judea, Samaria, and Idumea.
Jesus continues in verse 13, “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’” A mina equaled about 3 month’s wages. Verse 14 says, “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’” We noted earlier that history tells us Herod’s son was not granted by Rome the kingship he desired. This was in part because, historian Josephus tells us, a delegation had been sent opposing his rule.
Let’s pause for just a moment and address what is clear when we read the parable and understand the context in which Jesus tells the story. Jesus is telling a parable about Himself. Jesus is the “certain nobleman” of verse 12. He is the One who will be going away soon “into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom and to return.” Jesus will go to Jerusalem to die for our sins, to rise from the dead, and to ascend to Heaven – having gone “into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom” and “to return.” He will come again. Second coming. That is illustrated in verse 15 and following: “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.” That is, “What did you do while I was away?” What did you do during the “dash?”
Verses 16 and 17 says, “Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’” Unless I am mistaken this is a 1,000 % return! This first servant made the most of his life during the time the king was away. For this reason, he is rewarded in a big way. Verse 18 tells us, “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ This servant gets a 500% return!
Verses 19 through 21 say, “Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’” The third servant makes excuses for the pitiful way he lived while the king was away. He took what was entrusted to him and basically did – Nothing! He makes excuses, trying to lay the blame on the king: “I was afraid because I respect your no-nonsense ways!”
Verse 22 and 23 tell us, “And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’” This servant wraps up the mina in a handkerchief, keeps it nicely tucked inside, safely preserved.
The Christian life for many today is just that – conservative, taking care of me and mine, comfortable. I will attend worship Sunday mornings, I will either bring my children or send them along with others, I will be morally upright, I will have a biblical worldview. I may even get a little radical, listening to Christian radio and put a bumper sticker on my car. That is really nothing. That is just taking what is yours and tucking it away in a napkin, preserving it, etc.
Verses 24 through 27 say, “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’” If you reject the king you will have no place in the kingdom.
From these passage we learn about three Imperatives For Living During ‘The Dash’:
1) Be Devoted!
The first two servants are commended for being devoted to the king during the time he is away. When the king returns, he commends them for their utter devotion. Utter devotion, like Zacchaeus, true conversion changes everything – his giving, his witness, his life.
What are you living for? What are you doing with the “dash” of your life? Are you utterly devoted to the cause of Christ. Have you ever taken stock of your life and asked yourself, What am I living for? What do I really care about? What is my life about? If I put it all down and I was forced to put it on one sheet of 8.5 x 11, what would the sum of my life be about? What is the legacy that I am leaving? Where do I think my satisfaction is going to come from? The next time you’re in the stands during a game and you look around and there are thousands around you, or you are at the beach or you are at a condominium, or you are at a ski resort and there are hundreds and hundreds of people around you, if you are a Christian, one of the things that you ought to be every once in a while thinking about is – all of these people cheering around me, all of these people swimming around me, all of these people playing around me, all of these people skiing around me, those are not my people. The people of God are my people. And where they are getting satisfaction, their meaning met in life, is not where I get my meaning and my satisfaction met in life. I am living for a different reason than so many of the people that are around me right now. They have a different goal. They have a different purpose. They have a different basis in their lives. I am different. I am not encouraging you to look around and sort of look down your nose at other people because we are all sinners, but I am asking you to say, “I am servant to a different King than so many of the people around me are servant to. And does that show in how I live my life?”
2) Be Encouraged!
Christ’s Second Coming is providentially delayed. It is not some accident that He has not returned for 2,000 years. This parable encourages us to know that Christ has a plan. He is “gone away” for a long time. He will come again. In the meantime, we can be devoted and be encouraged. We can be encouraged because the Christian life can be difficult. It is not a sprint it is a marathon. It requires perseverance, endurance, and faithfulness. Hang in there and persevere and God will reward your faithfulness.
Just as the returning king in the parable awards those who were faithful while he was away, so will Christ reward those of you who are faithful while He is away. Sometimes it gets tough and rocky. Some of you are going through tough and rocky times in your Christian life, hang in there and remember, as the Bible says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
3) Be Warned!
There is a warning here for both believer and unbeliever. For the believer first: What are you doing with the Gospel? We will be judged by our stewardship of this Good News. It is not meant to be received only, but shared. No excuses: “I was afraid” (verse 21). Won’t work. Afraid to give your life to Christ missionally, etc.? Jesus is warning us not to be like wicked servants, keeping the Gospel to ourselves, sitting here in the comfort of our sanctuary, etc.
1 Corinthians 3:15, works tested through fire, works burnt up, he himself “…saved, yet so as through fire.”
For the unbeliever: Verse 14 is a picture of how Jesus is rejected today. Those who would not accept the king said in verse 14, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Refusing Christ is never entirely a matter of the head, it is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of the will. We “will not.”
There is a judgment day you will face. Jesus says in verse 27, “Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.” That is a picture of judgment.
A judgment day awaits us all. There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge His people, and give to every one according to his works. The course of this world shall not always go on as it does now. Disorder, confusion, false profession, and unpunished sin, shall not always cover the face of the earth. The great white throne shall be set up. The Judge of all shall sit upon it. The dead shall be raised from their graves. The living shall all be summoned to the bar. The books shall be opened. High and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple, all shall at length give account to God, and shall all receive an eternal sentence.
Missionary CT Studd in his book, Only One Life, wrote: “Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; (this is like the guy who tucks one mina away in a handkerchief) I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell” (This is like those who invested their minas wisely).
“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
Take a look at your calendars on your iPhone, computer, day-timer, or fridge; take a look at your checkbook, take a look at how you are using your time and your treasure. Are you making good investment of the Gospel during the dash of your life?
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”