There is no Such Thing as Standing Still in Religion - The Parable of the Minas
There is no Such Thing as Standing Still in Religion Grant van Boeschoten What if you were trusted with $26,080 of God’s money? What if you knew that at some point He would return to see what you were able to accomplish with the money? What would you do first? How would you make that money push forward God’s interests? Would you be excited about the opportunity? Would you be nervous about the responsibility? Another good question is, why are we talking about $26,080 precisely. Calgary average hourly wage is $32.60. For an 8 hour day, that equals $260.80 And if we put 100 of those days together, we get $26,080. In Jesus' day, that’s called a mina. A mina is what a worker would make with 100 working days. (Each day’s wage was called a danarius. 100 denarii is 1 mina.) There is a parable that Jesus tells in Luke 19 about servants who are entrusted with a mina each. Context - Between Zacchaeus and Palm Sunday Luke 19 occurs very near to the time of Jesus' death and resurrection. There was a group of people who travelled with Jesus, and they saw the signs that he did and they heard him teach and I think that for the most part, they were convinced that he was God’s Messiah. He was the one who was going to free them. They were becoming very excited about the possibility of Jesus returning to Jerusalem and the Kingdom of God appearing right then and there. In their minds, everything was about to happen. They were becoming enthusiastic, it was becoming obvious to Jesus. Luke 19:11 HCSB 11 As they were listening to this, He went on to tell a parable because He was near Jerusalem, and they thought the kingdom of God was going to appear right away. Many of the people thought that he would establish his Kingdom. But that was not going to look like, or feel like, anything that the people expected. The parable is to help refocus and clarify expectations. Luke 19:12–27 CSB 12 Therefore he said: “A nobleman traveled to a far country to receive for himself authority to be king and then to return. 13 He called ten of his servants, gave them ten minas, and told them, ‘Engage in business until I come back.’ 14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We don’t want this man to rule over us.’ 15 “At his return, having received the authority to be king, he summoned those servants he had given the money to, so that he could find out how much they had made in business. 16 The first came forward and said, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten more minas.’ 17 “ ‘Well done, good servant!’ he told him. ‘Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, have authority over ten towns.’ 18 “The second came and said, ‘Master, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 “So he said to him, ‘You will be over five towns.’ 20 “And another came and said, ‘Master, here is your mina. I have kept it safe in a cloth 21 because I was afraid of you since you’re a harsh man: you collect what you didn’t deposit and reap what you didn’t sow.’ 22 “He told him, ‘I will condemn you by what you have said, you evil servant! If you knew I was a harsh man, collecting what I didn’t deposit and reaping what I didn’t sow, 23 why, then, didn’t you put my money in the bank? And when I returned, I would have collected it with interest.’ 24 So he said to those standing there, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ 25 “But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’ 26 “ ‘I tell you, that to everyone who has, more will be given; and from the one who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away. 27 But bring here these enemies of mine, who did not want me to rule over them, and slaughter them in my presence.’ ” A Nobleman travels to a far country to receive authority. Who do you think that the nobleman represents? It is Jesus. The Kingdom of God is not about to appear in Jerusalem to change everything in a moment. Instead, Jesus is going to go away and receive authority. What his servants do during his time away becomes the focus of the parable. The Servant’s Task - Engage in Business Luke 19:13 CSB 13 He called ten of his servants, gave them ten minas, and told them, ‘Engage in business until I come back.’ At this point in the parable, the ruler is not yet a ruler, he does not have authority. This means that his servants have to have some sort of faith that he is in fact coming back. Do you think that the servants will act according to their faith? I think that they will. I think that the ones who believe that he is going to return with authority will be hard at work. I think that the ones who don’t trust him to return will be acting on that assumption. Those ones will squander his investment, they won’t take it seriously. What is the currency? (Not CAD, USD, silver, gold or minas) When you become a follower of Jesus, there is no cheque written for you for $26,080. The mina in the parable is representing something else besides financial currency. In this parable, an equal gift is given to each servant. What is the equal gift that is given to each person as they repent of their sin and trust Jesus for forgiveness and eternal salvation? Every Christian has the Gospel and God the Holy Spirit to help further the Gospel. The common gift given to all is the Gospel. We have the best news, we have the power of salvation. We who follow Jesus have been given God the Holy Spirit as our helper, comforter and teacher. In this parable, each servant receives an identical investment of one mina. When we look for the application, we need to see that we are all going to be accountable to God for this gift of the gospel in our lives. We won’t be able to look to another and say that they were given more than us. Jesus parable also has some adversity. Those who Oppose the Prospective Ruler Luke 19:14 CSB 14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We don’t want this man to rule over us.’ When the parable is given, the Pharisees, who were both the religious and political leaders, were actively working against Jesus. It is easy to imagine them before the throne of God echoing the words of Luke 19:14, “We don’t want this man to rule over us”. King Herod’s Son, Archelaus Do you remember King Herod from the Christmas story? Well, once Herod dies it's not a sure thing that his throne will be passed down to his son. This is because Herod was operating under the authority of Rome. In fact, Herod had himself travelled to Caesar in Rome to get his authority in the first place. When Herod died, his son Archelaus did the same thing. But the Jewish people sent a delegation with him to protest his rule. Caesar chose to give his authority to Archelaus, but he did not give him the title of King. Archelaus returned and rebuilt the stately royal palace in Jericho, the same city where Jesus was now telling the parable. History tells us that Archelaus was an incompetent ruler, and that soon authority was taken back by Rome and bestowed upon a serious of procurators. At the point in history when Jesus gives the parable, Pontius Pilate is the current Roman representative. In Jesus' parable, the delegation is not successful in their protest. The ruler is given the authority, and returns to see what his servants have done with the investment that he trusted them with. The Servant’s Results & Rewards The ten servants in the parable represent all of Jesus servants, we are included in that number. We are only given the results of three servants, which might represent three different accounts that could be given to Christ on his second coming. Servant #1 - A 1000% Return. Luke 19:15–17 CSB 15 “At his return, having received the authority to be king, he summoned those servants he had given the money to, so that he could find out how much they had made in business. 16 The first came forward and said, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten more minas.’ 17 “ ‘Well done, good servant!’ he told him. ‘Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, have authority over ten towns.’ The Reward is Extravagant and Proportional One mina is 100 days salary. 10 minas’ are 1000 days salary. In today’s dollars, that sort of return would look like $260,800. That’s a lot of money. Its impressive that the servant was able to get a 1000% return. Still, $260,800 is not even going to buy you a house in our market. But what is the reward that the ruler gives? He gives that faithful servant authority over 10 towns. The reward is extravagant and proportional. The ruler has returned with authority, and he will rule his kingdom by delegating that authority to the servants that he can trust. We see now that the time between the advent of Christmas and the advent of Christ's second coming is a test for how we handle a certain currency. Who are the ones that our ruler can trust? He can trust the ones who have been faithful. The Reward is Extravagant and Proportional It's the same sort of extravagance, and the exact same proportion. This might be a picture of God’s fairness. He doesn’t show favouritism based on which servant he likes best, because he is God, and his love does not have favourites. But he is proportional in his extravagance. The servants are rewarded in proportion to their production. The Bible teaches us that we should store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. I find that I need to constantly ask myself, “Am I living for the rewards of heaven or earth? Am I living for what will bring me a temporary, and fleeting joy on earth, or an eternal reward in heaven? The proportional reward in Jesus parable is in response to the production of the servants. That brings us to the third servant. Servant #3 - No return and a Poor Excuse Luke 19:20–21 CSB 20 “And another came and said, ‘Master, here is your mina. I have kept it safe in a cloth 21 because I was afraid of you since you’re a harsh man: you collect what you didn’t deposit and reap what you didn’t sow.’ What would you say if you were in this position? How do you try to explain to the King of Kings that you did absolutely nothing with the resources he has trusted you with? The servant’s response makes no sense. It's a foolish explanation that is given. “I kept your investment safe in a cloth.” But how many of us keep the gospel to ourselves, wrapped up in the cloth of our own lives and our own blessings and enjoyment. Jesus has called all of us to make disciples. He has given all of us his authority to make disciples. Matthew 28:18–19 HCSB 18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, If we stand before him at the second Advent, when he returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we have nothing to show, how are we going to be able to explain ourselves? We have his gospel and we have his authority. What we don’t have is a reasonable excuse for ignoring this command. The servant in the parable has the excuse that he was paralyzed by fear. He didn’t put the money to work, because he was afraid of losing it. That’s true for some of us as well. We are saved from our sins, given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and entrusted with Jesus’ authority to make disciples. But we are fearful of what it might cost us to obey. We are fearful of what it might do to relationships, scared of what price we might pay with our reputations, worried about how it could affect our incomes. How does the King reply to this servant who did not obey? The King’s Reply - A fool is answered accordingly Luke 19:22–23 CSB 22 “He told him, ‘I will condemn you by what you have said, you evil servant! If you knew I was a harsh man, collecting what I didn’t deposit and reaping what I didn’t sow, 23 why, then, didn’t you put my money in the bank? And when I returned, I would have collected it with interest.’ If you think that your master is harsh, then shouldn’t that create motivation? As I mentioned earlier, the servants reply was foolish. He’s saying, “Because you are harsh, I did nothing”. Think about this with me though, if you know that your boss at work is harsh, is doing nothing the best move? Students, if you know that you have a teacher with enormous expectations, do you think that the way to win is to do nothing? Investing the money in the bank was the very least that the servant should have done. But the servant had made a major miscalculation. The Servant’s Miscalculation I wonder if the servant in this parable ever expected for the master to return. Because, if the master never returned, then the servant would never have to give account. The Servant’s Actions show that he was not living in expectation of the Master’s return. Take a look at your own life. Are you living in expectation of the return of Jesus Christ? What are you doing with the gift of salvation that he has trusted you with. What do your actions show about your heart’s expectation? Do you act as if Jesus will return. How will he reward you, his faithful servant, for how you used the gift of salvation that he has entrusted you with? Look what he does with this Servant in the parable? Luke 19:24–25 HCSB 24 So he said to those standing there, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has 10 minas.’ 25 “But they said to him, ‘Master, he has 10 minas.’ The Ruler is both Wise & Fair The other servants don’t think it's fair. But, who is in charge of this evaluation? It's only the ruler who has the final say. Don’t live to be evaluated well by the people around you. Live for the evaluation of Jesus Christ. It's his evaluation that matters, and Jesus is both wise and fair. He demonstrates wisdom by giving the mina to the one who shows the greatest results with previous investment. Is the judgement fair? If the Servant cannot be trusted with one mina, why should he keep it? Charles Spurgeon says this about the parable, “the gracious and faithful man obtains more grace and more means of usefulness, while the unfaithful man sinks lower and lower and gets worse and worse. ‘We must either make progress or else lose what we have attained. There is no such thing as standing still in religion.” I’ve seen this principle play out in my life, and in many other people's lives as well. What about you? Have you seen evidence for this in how you live? Is there such a thing as standing still in religion, neither going forward or backwards? When I read the quote, I said to myself, “I’ve found a title for the sermon”, because I think that it is a good reminder for me and for us all. We aren’t standing still. And my prayer is that this reminder will encourage us to make progress. What I don’t want for you to do this morning is beat yourself up. To think that you’ve lost everything because of moving backwards. The ruler does take away the mina from the servant, but he does not kick him out of the kingdom. The servant is still a part of the kingdom at the end of the parable. The enemies of the King have a different fate. Before Jesus says what will happen to them, he gives the... Principle of the Parable Luke 19:26 HCSB 26 “ ‘I tell you, that to everyone who has, more will be given; and from the one who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away. The point of giving minas to the servants was not to make them rich, but to give them a job to do and then to evaluate their work. Everyone who has, more will be given. What is the “has”. What do they have? I’ve said earlier that we are talking about salvation. This is about the opportunity to live our lives according to the Gospel of Jesus. Can the good news of the gospel be taken from us? That’s not how I am reading this. Instead, what I see here is the responsibility that accompanies the good news about Jesus. If you know that you are a sinner that has been forgiven by God, then you know that there are others who are caught in sin and also need God’s forgiveness. The result is that you have a responsibility to share this good news. If we neglect that responsibility, what will the eternal consequences be? When I look at this parable, I believe that in eternity, each one of us who follows Christ in this life will still have work to do in the next life. This parable shows me how I live now will have an effect on what God trusts me with in eternity. I know that God’s rewards are extravagant and proportional. How will I live as a result of this principle? Conclusion of the Parable Luke 19:27 HCSB 27 But bring here these enemies of mine, who did not want me to rule over them, and slaughter them in my presence.’ ” This sounds harsh to our ears, and is very unpopular in the pro-tolerance world that we live in. None the less, this parable points us forward to the second coming of Jesus. Jesus, on his return, will be the final judge. The results of being an enemy of Christ are terrible. There is no sense in watering down a truth which Jesus so clearly speaks about in the parable. It's a sobering verse to read and think through. Our only hope is that Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save the lost. He is not willing that any should be deprived of his salvation. And furthermore, while we were still his enemies, Jesus Christ has died for us. He has made a way of salvation is freely offered to everyone who will put their trust in him. Summary and Application This parable was given so that the people would recognize that the Kingdom of God was not about to suddenly appear and change everything about their current condition. Instead, Jesus was going away, and will one day return with ultimate authority over all. In the meantime, the servants of Jesus have been given his gift of salvation. We are to put that gift to work in this world. One day, Jesus will return, and we will see that our time with salvation on earth will be evaluated. Extravagant and Proportional gifts will be given by Jesus. What we do with the gift of salvation now matters for eternity. If you are a follower of Christ, then you might be feeling that weight of responsibility that comes. But Jesus says that we are not to carry this weight alone. We have 2 key helpers that I want to draw you to this morning. The Help of the Holy Spirit. God himself will help you to live out his salvation, and to multiply this out through discipleship. You are not alone, the Holy Spirit will not abandon you. Every single Christian is able to have the gift of salvation multiplied out through their lives, every single one of us can experience this joy, because every single one of us has God’s Holy Spirit with us. The Help of Christian Community I want to encourage you to be a part of a small group of believers who will pray with you, encourage you, challenge you and support you in this endeavor. We all need help. We all have blindspots. We all have glaring weaknesses. We all need love. If you are not a part of a small group of believers who are supporting you this way, please speak to me or fill out a contact card, and I will do my best to connect you with a group who you can be in community with. If you are not a follower of Christ, then I want to encourage you to consider becoming one. A follower of Jesus is someone who acknowledges that they need help, and that Jesus is the only way to be saved. Jesus way of living is better than your way of living. They acknowledge that their way of living, of thinking of acting and just of being is bent, and is not as it should be. Without Jesus, we are all lost. When we follow Jesus, we ask him to make our lives right. To forgive us of all the ways that we have gone wrong, and we commit to following his ways which we acknowledge to be the way to real life. If you are not a follower of Christ, I am asking you to take time today to slow down, and ask some deep questions. I would be happy to talk with you this week about what it means to be a Christian, and there are many others here who I know would do the same. May God Bless each one of you this morning, and may the truth of this parable go with us this year, shaping how we see the world, and affecting how we use our time.