“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.
He said therefore, ‘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.”
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.”
And the second came, saying, “Lord, your mina has made five minas.”
And he said to him, “And you are to be over five cities.” Then another came, saying, “Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 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.”
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?
Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?”
And he said to those who stood by, “Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.”
And they said to him, “Lord, he has ten minas!” “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.
But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.”’”
You will have noticed whenever you are reading any of the parables Jesus told, the author customarily uses a literary device to transfer the reader’s attention smoothly from the events swirling about Jesus to the parable itself.
This is the case here.
The text reads, “As they heard these things.”
The words serve to segue into instruction vital to our spiritual well-being.
In other words, the Spirit of God believes it important for our understanding to be aware of what was happening when Jesus told this parable.
We need to take a moment to remember the events precipitating the relating of the story.
The first ten verses of this chapter tell the story of the conversion of Zacchaeus.
He was changed from a self-centred, money-grubbing rascal to a redeemed disciple of Jesus.
The salvation of this man was not accompanied without grumbling from the religious leadership of the day.
They thought that people whom they loathed had no right to salvation, or even to be treated with courtesy.
People often argue that those whom they detest deserve the hottest place in hell.
Such sentiments are commonly expressed; however, I would say that each of us deserves the hottest place in hell.
Salvation has nothing to do with who we are or even with what we have done or not done.
Salvation flows from the mercy of God and is a revelation of His grace.
The evidence that Zacchaeus was changed into a new man was revealed through his view of his possessions after conversion.
Listen to him after he has believed Jesus.
“Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.
And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold” [LUKE 19:8].
He wanted a clean start in life and he realised that he was responsible to administer wisely all he held; he especially realised that he could no longer continue to hold onto goods obtained through fraud or deceit.
That brings us back to the text, which begins, “as they heard these things.”
The people walking with and surrounding the Master witnessed the change in this man, and since “they were near Jerusalem” and “because they supposed that the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately,” Jesus seized the moment to instruct them in a great truth.
Jesus had identified his mission—“to seek and to save the lost” [LUKE 19:10].
The people, including, perhaps, even those who were truly disciples, took note that He was near Jerusalem.
The general anticipation of the nation was that Messiah would bring political salvation.
Therefore, the natural assumption was that He was about to overthrow the Roman occupation and reinstate the Davidic Kingdom.
Jesus knew the error of the people’s thinking and He immediately addressed their misunderstanding of His mission.
He corrected their error by relating a parable.
*A FAMILIAR PARABLE* — The parable Jesus told is simple enough.
A nobleman was compelled to travel to a distant country in order to receive a kingdom, after which he would return.
During his absence, he left an equal sum of money with each of ten servants, instructing them to engage in business until he returned.
The money each servant received was one mina.
A mina was weight of silver equal to about 1¼ pounds, which was the equivalent of about three months of wages during that period.
During the nobleman’s absence, the citizens instigated a rebellion in an effort to depose him.
However, upon his return from receiving the kingdom conferred upon him, he first called for his servants to give a report of their business with his moneys.
The first servant had produced a one thousand percent increase.
Consequently, he was rewarded by being appointed to rule over ten cities.
The second had obtained a five hundred percent increase.
He was rewarded with appointment to rule over five cities.
The third servant, however, had a pitiful excuse for abject failure to gain anything.
“Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 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.”
Unfortunately for him, his own words condemned him.
If he really believed his master was severe and if he was really afraid to him, then why didn’t he at least get interest by depositing the moneys in the bank?
It would have been safe, even if it didn’t earn much.
As it is, the master had actually lost money since it was not working for him.
Inflation, even at a modest rate, would have reduced the value of the principle.
Jesus then says that the ruler instructed those standing nearby to take the money from this slothful servant and give it to the one who already had ten minas.
Those witnessing this action objected, indicating that they considered the actions of the ruler to be unfair.
However, the nobleman justified his action by saying, “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.”
Then, Jesus has the ruler turn his attention to the rebels who attempted to depose him.
His instruction concerning them was terse; they were to be brought before him and executed forthwith.
In brief, this is the parable Jesus told.
*A SOVEREIGN, HIS SERVANTS AND THE SEDITIONISTS* — In order to ensure that we fully understand this parable, keep in mind that there are three sets of individuals in the story.
It should be obvious that Jesus is referring to Himself as the nobleman who is called into a far country to receive a kingdom.
Of course, the kingdom that He is to receive is the Kingdom of God that all the people were expecting to be instituted immediately.
We are also introduced to the nobleman’s servants.
These servants can be divided into two subgroups—wise labourers and at least one slothful shirker.
We have the example of only three of the servants, which is sufficient for the purpose of the account.
Two servants are commended for their acumen in caring for the master’s wealth.
One servant, however, is censured because of what must surely be recognised as his sloth.
Finally, in the parable, Jesus introduces us to certain citizens of the realm who rebel against the nobleman, the appointed ruler of the realm.
These rebels are summarily dealt with after the master of the kingdom has returned.
As already stated, Jesus refers to Himself as the nobleman in the parable.
Our Lord came to seek and to save the lost.
The Master was always insistent that this was His mission.
Repeatedly does He speak of His work of calling sinners [MATTHEW 9:13].
When the disciples were sent out during the days our Lord walked in Israel, they were instructed to go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” [MATTHEW 10:6].
In this context, the parable of the lost sheep seems significant.
Perhaps you recall that story Jesus told.
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?
And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray” [MATTHEW 18:12, 13].
The heart of the Master is disposed to seek those who are lost.
The lost are those who know they are sinners, those who realise that they have nothing to compel God to love them.
As sinners, they must cast themselves on God’s mercy.
It seems appropriate to interject a parenthesis at this point to state clearly that the message of Christ is indeed Good News, though it is offensive to the natural man.
Those who attempt to justify themselves, comforting themselves that they are not so bad, are actually in a most precarious situation.
Such people fail to realise that they are sinners by the standard of Holy God.
It matters not how highly I esteem my own standards, they fail to achieve the standard of righteousness demanded by God.
Therefore, if I will be righteous in the sight of God, He must confer His own righteousness on me.
And that is what is done through Christ the Lord.
When I believe the message of life, believing that He died because of my sin and that He was raised for my justification, God accepts the sacrifice of Christ in my place and transfers the righteousness of Christ to me.
All who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, confessing that He died because of their sin and that He rose to declare them righteous, are redeemed from sin.
Christ has sought them out and saved them.