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. (Luke 19:11).
In the days our Lord walked the earth, there was widespread expectation that the kingdom of God was near (Luke 2:10-17, 25-38; Mark 15:43; John 1:41, 45, 49; 12:13; etc.). Jesus spoke several “kingdom parables.” This is another kingdom parable. In fact, it is similar to the parables of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) in some respects, but with a few variations.
“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’” (v 12-14)
Jesus spoke of a nobleman who journeyed to a far country, received a kingdom there. He commissioned servants to do business on his behalf with minas (units of currency), and then he returned home (v 12-13). Jesus, like the nobleman came from a far place (heaven) in order to receive a kingdom (the church), and then returned home (ascended to heaven). He has commissioned His people (Christians) to do business—to be involved in good works and faithful service in the kingdom.
There was discontent among the citizens in the region where the nobleman received his kingdom; they refused for him to reign over them (v 14). This portrays what happened to the Christ. Many of the Jews, at the urging of their religious leaders, rejected Jesus as their Messiah.
When the nobleman returned, his servants were called to give an account of themselves (verse 15-26). As mentioned, this is very much like the talent parable as recorded in Matthew’s gospel. However, here each servant was given the same amount—a mina. With one mina the first servant earned ten minas (v 16). With one mina the second servant earned five minas (v 18). The principle of “according to their abilities” stands here, not in whatwas originally given to them, but in the outcome of their service. Likewise, the principle of one who is faithful over few things being committed greater things is present here. A word of caution—one should not take from this text that there are varying degrees of reward in heaven. Indeed, the one who earned ten minas was set over ten cities, and the one who earned five minas was set over five cities. However, in the spiritual equivalent to the parable we do not earn anything. We cannot earn our way into heaven. We work to accomplish the Lord’s will, and by His mercy and grace, we are granted entrance. Also, consider the outcome in the parable of the day labourers (Matthew 20:1-16); some worked throughout the day, others just for an hour, but they received the same in the end.
Those who worked for the master were commended, but then we come to the lazy servant who hid his master’s mina in a handkerchief. What explanation did he have for his inactivity?
“I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow” (v 21).
Hear the words of the master,
“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?” (v 22-23).
May we choose to give the Lord faithful service, not excuses. Engaging in the work and failing to make a profit is better than doing nothing.
After the master settled accounts with his servants, he then called those who had opposed his rule, commanding that they be put to death (v 27). So shall it be for those who oppose the Christ—they shall stand before Him in judgment and be cast out.
NOTE—this is not Luke’s “version” of the parable of the talents. Though they are similar, they are two distinct parables taught at different times. The talent parable was taught after Jesus had gone into the city, a few days rempved from his entry to the city (Matthew 21:1-11; 25:14-30). In Luke’s gospel, this is taught to a crowd in Jericho as Jesus made His way to Jerusalem (Luke 19:1). He would enter Jerusalem shortly thereafter (Luke 19:29-40).