The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because He was nearing Jerusalem, He told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.
He said, "A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return.
Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, 'Invest this for me while I am gone.'
But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We do not want him to be our king.'
"After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were.
The first servant reported, 'Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!'
"'Well done!' the king exclaimed. 'You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.'
"The next servant reported, 'Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.'
"'Well done!' the king said. 'You will be governor over five cities.'
"But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, 'Master, I hid your money and kept it safe.
I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn't yours and harvesting crops you didn't plant.'
"'You wicked servant!' the king roared. 'Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I'm a hard man who takes what isn't mine and harvests crops I didn't plant,
why didn't you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.'
"Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, 'Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.'
"'But, master,' they said, 'he already has ten pounds!'
"'Yes,' the king replied, 'and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
And as for these enemies of mine who didn't want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.'" Luke 19:11-27)
What is the point of this parable? Why is it included here at this point? We need to look carefully at the setting of the story to know why the story is being used in this place.
The relevant points from yesterday's Gemz are building blocks for our investigation today:
Jesus uses this story to counter their expectations that the crowning of Messiah is going to happen when they reach Jerusalem.
It is highly likely Jesus is alluding to what happened with Archelaus. He, Archelaus, violated the Torah by divorcing his wife and his cruelty toward the Jews stirred up opposition among those who wanted him removed from office. Note the significance of Luke 19:13 in this context - "I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn't yours and harvesting crops you didn't plant.' That statement is perfectly applicable to Herod Archelaus.
I told you yesterday that to call this parable the Parable of the Pounds is somewhat misleading. The focus is not the money. It certainly has nothing to do with weights and measures. Most of us would look at this parable and think that it is all to do with investing our money or using our money for Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Note the contrasts with Matthew 25 with the Parable of the Talents. I think it is interesting that Matthew has changed the word [mina] to [talanton]. It is still a weight or a monetary measure but worth more. Even more interesting is that so many of us interpret the word [talanton] to mean "talents", "abilities" and "giftings" when there is nothing in the word which indicates that is the meaning. In fact, what is clear is that the series of examples Jesus used emphasize preparedness at any time day and night, because the Son of Man could come back at any time. Surely that is the major point of Matthew's positioning of this parable. That is what all the other parables or stories around "this one" are saying. Yet it is easy for us to reinterpret the parable to mean gifting and abilities and disregard the evidence to the contrary.
Having said that, let's investigate Luke's focus. How is Jesus using this parable in this context? We are helped immensely by Luke's introductory comment. "And because He was nearing Jerusalem, He told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away." For the very reason that they were going to Jerusalem, He has been reminding them of what the Scriptures say about the coming of the Messiah, He told them this story. The story then is to provide teaching for them in the context of the Crowning of the Messiah and the ushering in of the Kingdom of God. But it is clear the whole point of the story is to tell them it is NOT YET. Jesus is likely taking the analogy of Archelaus going away to be crowned and coming back again to reign. But in Archelaus' case it was not certain whether he could come back as king or not. Furthermore, when would that be and how long would his reign last? In terms of human affairs, especially for those who have aspirations to greatness in the political arena, had better make sure they "back the right horse". If you get it wrong and you back the wrong person, then your political aspirations have effectively ended.
(ESV) Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.'
(LITV) And calling ten of his slaves, he gave to them ten minas and said to them,Trade until I come.
(MSG) But first he called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, 'Operate with this until I return.'
(NLT) Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, 'Invest this for me while I am gone.'
(GNT)καλέσας δὲ δέκα δούλους ἑαυτοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς δέκα
Calling and ten slaves himself gave them ten
μνᾶς καὶ εἶπε πρὸς αὐτούς· πραγματεύσασθε ἐν ᾧ ἔρχομαι.
minas and said to them pragmateusasthe in which until I come
1) to be occupied in anything
2) to carry on a business
3) to carry on the business of a banker or a trader
to busy oneself with, that is, to trade, occupy (oneself)
en ho / heos
There is a variant in the text at this point. I don't intend to go into great detail relating to the strength of the readings. Suffice to say there are two alternatives:
En ho has the sense of "in which" I.e. In the situation in which you find yourself.
Heos has the sense of "until", "as far as", "up to", "while".
This is fascinating because when we really analyze the grammatical constructions, the focus is not the buying and selling. It is not making money or profit. Rather, the focus is to busy yourself or occupy yourself with the activity you are doing (in my name) because I am coming back. Carry on the business pragmatically speaking – if we take the Greek word literally. Be pragmatic. Ah, who's business or in whose name? In the name of the absentee nobleman, king or Messiah. Take a moment to think about the implications of this. If you support a certain person who is unpopular politically and he goes off in an attempt to secure his crown knowing the general population don't like him, the temptation is to pull your head in and keep a low profile. If you supported Archelaus at that time, it is hardly likely that you want to let it be known when he was away and other leaders were positioning themselves to take over in his absence. You would seek to sit on the fence and wait and see what happened. The emphasis is not making money, the emphasis is continuing to represent the absentee nobleman when it is not popular to do so.
There is a further sense to this parable, in that we don't really know if Archelaus is coming back. Who knows? He may come back, he may not. Especially in the uncertainties of Roman politics of the time, it was totally uncertain if he would rule again and for how long. Indeed, he did come back but not for long. Better to abdicate our responsibilities to work in his name until we are certain he is coming back. Or from a Christian point of view there have been many over the years, who upon believing that Jesus is coming back soon, have sold up, given up and waited on mountain tops for His Coming. They are still waiting. Well, actually they aren't; they have died. Be pragmatic. Keep occupying. Carry on with business. Carry on working in the name of the Coming King. Don't give up. Keep on keeping on. The absence of the King is no excuse for doing nothing in His name because you are afraid of the consequences. Nail your colours to the mast and speak out His truth till He comes.
The slaves are not commended for their success or how much they have made. They are commended for their faithfulness. Archelaus' subject didn’t want him to come back and rule them. They rebelled against his harsh rule. Will you carry on and serve an unpopular king or not? Oh, I don't mean Jesus is unpopular because He is harsh and we hate Him. I am referring to serving a King on whom the world has turned its back. It is interesting how many "Christians" keep a low profile and don't speak out in the name of their King because they are afraid of the consequences. They say things like, "I will just live the Christian life. I don't have to always mention Christ. I can just live the life." No, you need to do both.I have told the story before of the man in an office who lived his good Christian life but didn’t ever speak about Jesus. He felt that just to live it was enough. Finally, one of his workmates told him one Monday morning that he (the work mate) had become a Christian on the weekend. The Christian was overjoyed. He congratulated the man and praised the Lord in front of the new believer. The man was surprised and exclaimed, "You mean you are a Christian?" Yes, replied the "silent-Christian" workmate. "Then you are what has kept me from Christ all these years. I looked at you and saw you lived a good life but you didn’t say anything about Jesus. So I figured I could live like you and not need Jesus either.
"Slap slap – tweet slapped before there was Twitter.
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. Francis of Assisi
Live the life and give credit where credit is due.
Your actions have to match your words and your words have to give credit to Jesus for your actions.
You can't change the world if you are afraid of it.
Courage is fear that has said its prayers.