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2016-12-11 Luke 19:11-27 Don't Be Surprised; Be Ready

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DON’T BE SURPRISED; BE READY (Luke 19:11-27) December 11, 2016 Read Text – A famous author signed his latest book for a man who explained, “It’s for my wife for Christmas.” The author said, “A surprise, eh?” The guy replied, “I’ll say. She’s expecting a Cadillac.” That woman’s in for an unpleasant surprise! Jesus, now 17 miles from Jerusalem, has a similar issue. His followers are more excited with every step. They’re expecting a kingdom. And He knows that’s not what’s going to happen. So He tries again to reset expectations thru a parable. Far from assuming a throne, He is going to leave them. They’ll be devastated. BUT that’s not going to be the end. So what’s coming and what should they do? I. The Removal 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.” This was a familiar scenario for Jesus’ audience. Herod the Great had originally been appointed King of the Jews over Palestine by Caesar Augustus. When he died in 4 BC he left 1/3 of his kingdom, to his son Archelaus who also wanted to be king. He went to Rome to seek that appointment. But Caesar Augustus would only make him ethnarch promising to make him king “should be prove his deserts.” But even the Romans could not stomach him. After 10 years they ousted him and appointed their own governor -- Pilate by the time of Christ. But Jesus’ audience knew about noblemen going to a far country to seek a kingdom. The nobleman is Jesus, of course. So the parable presents disciples with a good news/bad news story. The bad news – Jesus isn’t setting up a kingdom yet. The good news – He’s going somewhere to receive one. What they still didn’t get was that He had to purchase forgiveness for those who would be His subjects. Without the death and resurrection He’s been warning about, there would be no people to rule over. The cross had to come before the crown. Even after His death they struggled with this. In His last minutes with them: Acts 1:6: “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” It’s like they are saying, “Okay, Lord, we get it now. You couldn’t rule outwardly until you bought our inward forgiveness. You delayed political rule for the cross. We get that. But here you are back alive again. So is it now? Surely, it’s now!” 1 So Jesus replies: “Sorry guys. It’s not going to happen. It’s never been intended to be more than a spiritual kingdom.” Is that what He said? Not at all. He simply said in Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. He didn’t say, “It’s not coming,” just “It’s not coming yet, and in the meantime, you’ve got a job to do so get on with that.” Then, He was lifted out of sight. The removal. They would have thought of this very parable which predicted that exact moment. So Jesus has gone to receive a kingdom. And where is the far country? It’s heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father. Eph 1:20-21 says God “raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority.” So Jesus has His kingdom and now rules over all things. So why doesn’t He return? That, Beloved, is for God to know and us to find out. Deut 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God.” That’s where we must leave them for now. But the disciples needed to know that while Jesus was gone, He was not abandoning them. His removal was all part of God’s eternal plan. However bleak things may look, they are actually right on track. II. The Representatives So what are the disciples to do in Jesus’ absence? They are to be His representatives. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ A mina was about 3 months wages. With that the servant was to “Engage in business until I come”. Not just any business -- His business. He is bankrolling their efforts to expand His interests in His absence. What are His interests? He Lu 19:10 – “to seek and save the lost.” That’s His business, and that is now our business. We do this in many different ways, but that is now our business. His commission is, “Engage in business until I come.” Whatever else we do, that is the overriding purpose of our existence. Bring others into the kingdom. So what does the mina represent? Certainly we are all equipped with the same gospel to help others find Christ. I Cor 4:1, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (i.e., the gospel).” Paul tells Timothy much the same thing in II Tim 1: 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” If you back up to v. 8 you find that the good deposit is the gospel – the Word of God. 2 But we can’t exclude our giftedness either. The mina represents all Jesus has given us to further His work on earth: His Word, His Holy Spirit and the spiritual and natural gifts. In I Cor 4:7: “What do you have that you did not receive?” All we are and have is to be used for His glory. Some of us will do that in full-time paid positions, like pastors, workers, missionaries and so on. Others will do that through secular careers. But whoever we are, we are to engage in our business in way that will further His business first. Seek His kingdom first. We are His ambassadors first and foremost. That’s our calling. Moody used to tell of a blind man sitting at a street corner with a lantern beside him. Someone asked, “Why the lantern given that you can’t see?” The man replied, “So that no one may stumble over me.” Well, we’re not blind, but people could certainly stumble over us if we are not living in the light of the Word, applied to our hearts by the HS and ministered thru the gifts that He gives. Paul says in II Cor 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” That’s our calling in His absence – be His ambassadors. III. The Return Jesus is coming again. V. 12: A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.” V. 15: “When he returned, having received the kingdom.” Has that happened yet? Nope. But do you see that this parable is entirely irrelevant – unless Jesus is coming again? And when He does, we’re going to see, touch, hear and experience Him just like disciples. When the nobleman returns, he interacts with his servants visibly, orally, physically, just like before he left. And that is just the way Jesus will return – in bodily form, visible to all. Were the prophecies of Jesus’ first coming fulfilled literally? When it said born in Bethlehem, was that literally fulfilled? Sold for 30 pieces of silver – literally fulfilled? Son of man just like Daniel predicted – all flesh and blood and bone, complete with a genealogy going all the way back to Adam, and yet fully God at the same time. All literal, right? So it is sheer nonsense to insist that His Second Coming is only spiritual, not literal as JW’s do. He’s coming back, Beloved, in the flesh. Even as Jesus disappeared into heaven, 2 angels reported, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). When He comes again, the whole world will see – and hear! Matt 24: 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of 3 Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds.” Everyone will see and hear when He comes again. You say, “Do you really believe that?” Absolutely. I can hardly wait. If you believe Jesus was visibly standing, talking, interacting with those people that day, you have to believe He’s coming again – this time not to purchase redemption but this time to make good on it. Good for some; bad for others. IV. The Results – 3 types of people – spent most of the time here. The results of Jesus’ return visit to earth are very different from those of His first coming. Before He came to save; now He’s coming to judge – to reward believers and judge unbelievers. Everyone will get the fair results of their decision about Christ. The results are both glorious and devastating. Now, to get this, we must realize there are 3 kinds of people in the world. We usually think of believers and unbelievers – 2 kinds. But as Tim Keller points out, Jesus constantly identifies 3 types and nowhere more clearly than here. The first type is true believers. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 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.’ Vv. 18-19 describe a 2nd such believer. These are people who, having received Christ have taken His gifts and used them to further His kingdom. Their life has exhibited the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). They are not perfect, but their heart has pursued God’s agenda over their own, and their one mina of privilege has spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, by word and deed, all around them, so that their one has become 10. These are rewarded out of all proportion to their faithfulness. Faithful in little, they are given authority over much. We can’t develop this fully, but listen to some promises to faithful believers. Rev 3: 21) The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” That should raise a gasp from all of us. Sitting with Jesus as He sits with the Father on His throne. This is beyond comprehension. II Tim 2: 12) if we endure, we will also reign with him.” Do we deserve to reign with Christ? Never, but faithful in little, authority over much. Rev 5:10 says of believers: “and they shall reign on the earth.” I can’t tell you exactly what this will all be like, Beloved. But I can tell you that heaven will be so wonderful that for whatever brief moment of regret we 4 might have, we will only wish we’d been more faithful. God pays like no one else. And it lasts forever. This is the group you want to be in, believe me. Now the second group is those who just totally reject Christ. Whether they believe in God or not, they want nothing to do with Jesus. We see them first in v. 14 as the nobleman departs: “14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ These are out and out rejecters. They may be down-and-outers or up-andouters but they want nothing to do with Jesus. “We do not want this man to reign over us.” They disavow He has any claim over them. They see His death as having no relevance to them – and they are dead wrong. Their fate when Jesus comes again is sealed: “27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’ ” This is figurative language for eternal separation from God. Remember Jesus said in Mt 10: 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” These are going to exactly that destruction which goes on forever and ever. So the first two kinds of people are polar opposites. But what of the third? Who are they? They are represented by the third servant: 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 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.’ 22 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? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ Many suggest this unfaithful servant is a true believer who has lived a wasted, carnal life. He’s in – by the skin of his teeth. But that is not true. On closer glance you will see that he is actually not a servant at all. He is a professor, not a possessor. He’s the religious hypocrite that Jesus constantly encountered. How do we know? V. 20 says, “Then another came”. Luke does not use αλλος, “another of the same kind”, but ετερος, “another of a different kind.” He’s not genuine! This one did not treasure the revelation of God in His Word. He hid it away other than on Sabbath days when he went to synagogue. He lived only for here and now with no eye to eternity. He did not see the Father as gracious, but as severe. He even accuses Him of not playing fair. He claimed to be Christ’s servant, but he had no real relationship. He put on an outward show, but had no inward reality. Jesus refers to him in v 22 a “wicked (πονηρος) servant” – a word that is used 78 times in the NT, but never of a believer. 5 Who is this? This is the false believer – the one who makes a claim of Christ – someone who joined the church and even comes occasionally, has been baptized, gives money sometimes and tries to look the part. But deep inside, he has no time for Christ; he loves and pursues his own will. He has no relationship with Jesus. And while his ultimate fate is not described here, in the parable of the talents, which uses the same language and teaches the same lesson, the fate of the unfaithful servant is described in detail. Mt 25:30: “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Those who claim Christ outwardly but withhold their heartfelt devotion and repentance have only an eternity in hell to look forward to. They have made no investment in eternity and suffer the same fate as out and out rejecters of Christ. Conc – So each of us must ask this morning, what group am I in? If Jesus were to come today, that would determine our fate. If you are part of either of the last two groups, there is still time to leave the broad road that leads to destruction and transfer to the narrow road that leads to life by confessing your sin and acknowledging Jesus as your Lord and Savior. But time is short. The theme of this passage isn’t difficult to find. It’s clearly stated in v. 26 ‘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.” Everyone who has what? Has Jesus. That’s who He wants to find when He comes so He can give them even more. But you must have Him. Do you have Him? The great danger for us sitting here this morning is self-deception. Like the school teacher who lost her life savings to a Ponzi scheme. It shattered her dreams for the future. She reported her loss to the Better Business Bureau and was asked, “Why in the world didn’t you come to us first? Didn’t you know about us?” She replied, “Yes, I’ve always known about you. But I was afraid you’d tell me not to do it.” How foolish. But no worse than those claiming to be followers of Christ but refusing the Bible’s message that it’s what is in your heart that matters. If that’s you, why not make your commitment real and then Engage in His business until He comes instead of yours. Don’t be surprised when Jesus comes. Be ready. Let’s pray. 6
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