Luke 19 Part 2
11. 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.
It appears that many of the people following the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem thought that He was going there to take the throne and begin ruling Israel and the world at that very moment. They knew that this glorious government was coming eventually, and that the Lord had been proclaiming it. They also knew of the hatred and opposition of the ruling class in Israel, who were centered in Jerusalem. They must have thought that the Lord’s going there must stir up His enemies to the point where He would be forced to act now, and to exercise His power in order to bring in that planned kingdom. Of course this was not what Christ was doing, but rather was going there to die. Only when His death was accomplished could He take the throne.
Because of this misconception they had, the Lord speaks up and teaches them this parable. We should not read ideas in here, however. He did not try to teach them that His kingdom was not coming for thousands of years, or that it was not a physical kingdom at all but one that takes place in your hearts. Rather He stressed the importance of serving your Lord until he returns to take up his kingdom, whenever that might be. There was nothing in this to say that the physical kingdom was not coming, or that it would be delayed until well past all these people’s lifetimes. Moreover, we know that the first stages of the kingdom did come after He was resurrected, although the full manifestation of it has now been delayed until sometime in the future to make way for the current dispensation of grace. Yet this delay has nothing to do with the parable given here. This was simply to teach a lesson to these people who thought that the government was even then going to come simply because He was going to Jerusalem.
12. Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.
Now the Lord tells the story of this nobleman. This nobleman goes into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom. This does not mean a territory, though of course this kingdom would take in a territory, but rather it means an authority. He was going away to receive the right to rule from one higher than he was, and then to return.
Notice that the nobleman does not come to the country he is going to rule to receive his authority over it, but rather goes into a far country to receive his authority and then return. Christ does the same thing, for we read of the Lord that “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” (Acts 2:34-35, quoted from Psalm 110:1.) Christ receives and exercises His authority from heaven before He ever returns to earth. He does not have to be on earth to set up His government over it. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite.
Historically this would have also been relevant to the Lord’s listeners, as Herod the Great and his son Archelaus had gone from Jericho to Rome to receive their authority. (See Bullinger’s notes in The Companion Bible page 1491.) The Lord was speaking this parable in Jericho itself, and so the people there would have been most familiar with this idea. Some of the stranger statements of the Lord here might be from the fact that He was directly referencing this historical fact, well known to the men to whom He was speaking.
13. “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’
As he is about to leave, he calls ten of his servants. They together receive ten minas, and each is in charge of one mina of these. The mina was a measure of weight, probably around a pound. This was probably in gold or some precious metal. All are given an equal amount, unlike the parable in Matthew 25:14-30. These parables are different in many points, so we must be careful to keep them straight. They are not two versions of the same parable.
Now, their lord the nobleman commands them. They are to do business with these minas while he is away. No doubt each of these servants previously had business and duties they were assigned to do. Now, with their lord gone and no direct oversight, he gives them this money as their own responsibility, and commands them to use it to continue to conduct their business while he is gone.
According to The Companion Bible, Archelaus never actually did this, but rather left one single man Philippus in charge of his monetary affairs. Therefore this parable, while perhaps based on a historical event, is a story all of its own created by Christ to illustrate the point He was making on this occasion.
14. “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’
The citizens over whom this nobleman seeks to rule hate him. Thus, they send a delegation after him to the one from whom he is seeking to receive this governmental authority. They demand that he not give this authority to him, proclaiming that they will not have this man to reign over them.
This is probably prophetic of what the rebellious Jews would do to Christ once He had returned to heaven, or even what they did do when they called for Him to be hung on a cross. Yet this was also true in the then-past of Archelaus, whom the Jews did this to, appealing to Augustus not to make him ruler and eventually succeeding in getting him put out of the kingship.
15. “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
The nobleman returns from his mission with the governmental authority that he sought. Now, he wants to know how each of his servants have used what he had given them while he was gone. Their task apparently was to trade with it in order to make an increase of the money he had given them. So he calls them to him and questions each of them as to how he has performed his task.
16. “Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’
The first servant comes to him with a story of great success. The mina he was entrusted with has, through his good management, earned ten minas in return.
17. “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’
The master is pleased with this first servant because he has increased the money tenfold. His faithful service pleases the master, and so he now gives him a much greater authority. He has this kingdom that he has now been granted, and it has given him charge over many cities. This servant, therefore, he makes his agent over ten of these cities. Of course, his was the ultimate authority, but this servant who had been faithful with a mina is now trusted to be faithful with these ten cities that the master has set him over. We could say that this servant now has a position out of his master. This means according to the Greek idea of the word that he is now the ekklesia of his master, having a position and an authority that comes from his master.
18. “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’
The second servant now steps forward. He has been less successful, less fortunate, or less of a good manager than the first. Regardless, however, he has still turned his original mina into five minas. Not what the first did, but still a very impressive gain.
19. “Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’
The master responds to this second servant much as he did the first. He is pleased with his results, though they were not as good as the first servant achieved. And, since he has increased the money fivefold, the master grants to him a corresponding authority over five cities.
20. “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.
Now a third servant of the ten steps forward. This servant, however, has acted far differently than his first two fellow servants, and has had far different results. Instead of trading with his master’s mina, he has kept it hidden away in a handkerchief. Perhaps he was afraid of making a blunder and losing what he had been given. But the result is that all he can offer his master now is the original mina which he was given, no more, and no less.
21. “‘For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’
This servant explains to his master why he had hidden away the mina and done no trading with it. He claims that he did this because of what he knows of this nobleman his master. He believes him to be an austere man, meaning harsh or rigid. He claims that he collects money he did not deposit and reaps what he did not sow. Basically he claims that he knows he takes money which he has no right or claim to, making him out to be a thief. This was true of Archelaus, although it would never be true of the Lord. But it is likely that the Lord is basing His words on this historical example. Yet if Archelaus expected proper use of the gifts he had given his servants while he was gone, would not our Lord expect at least as much service of those who were his servants at that time? And we cannot deny that many believe that the Lord is austere in ways that He most certainly is not. Yet because of his beliefs regarding his master, this servant claims he was afraid of him, and did not dare to risk somehow mismanaging and losing his mina.
22. “And he said to him, ‘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.
The master is angry with this servant, and he is not pleased with the attitude he has taken and the use he has made of his money. He tells this servant that he will determine what is right for him by using the very words that came out of his own mouth. Therefore, he assumes that the servant’s assessment is correct, and that he is an austere man, and a thief who collects what he did not deposit and who reaps what he did not sow. He is not really admitting that this is true. Whether or not the master is like this, this is what this servant has claimed, and so the master will judge him based on this idea.
23. “‘Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
It being the case that he believes his master to be like this, then why didn’t he at least deposit this money in the bank, so that when his master returned he could have collected his money with interest? This would have been a “safe” use of the money, and yet still would have gained something for his master. Why, if he believed his master to collect and reap that which did not belong to him, did he think that his master would be satisfied with collecting his original deposit back with no increase? The servant’s own words condemn him, for they do not make sense. It makes far more sense that this servant was just plain lazy, and did not want to do the work necessary to increase this mina.
24. “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’
The nobleman commands his other servant to stand by to take the mina from this servant, and to give it instead to the faithful servant who has the ten minas.
25. “(But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’)
Those who stand by seem taken aback by this. They point out that the man whom they are to give this mina to already has ten. On top of this, he now has command over ten cities. What use is it giving him another mina?
26. “‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
This was the point of the Lord’s parable, and the reason He was telling this historically-based story. Just as was the case with human kings, so those who were given a gift by Christ would be expected to use that gift faithfully.
Now when the kingdom of God comes upon earth, it will come bringing gifts for all men. Psalm 68:18, a rather famous verse quoted multiple times in the New Testament, declares this.
18. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
This verse reveals to us that the Lord Jesus, ascended on high, receives gifts to give to men. Yet when He gives these out, they will be both for the good and for the rebellious, preparing the world for the LORD God to dwell among them. Therefore, the gifts of light, of truth, of health, of knowledge, and so forth are distributed far and wide at the start of the kingdom and given to all. That is because the kingdom is not discriminatory when it comes, but rather it takes into itself all men. However, once they are in the kingdom, then they are tried as to their own worthiness to receive the gifts they have been given. Another passage that sets this forth is the parable in Matthew 13:47-48.
47. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48. which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
So the kingdom when it comes will pull in all men of every kind. Yet afterwards they are sorted through, and the good are retained while the bad are discarded. Therefore, those who are found worthy of the gifts they have received when the kingdom began will find that on top of this they will receive far more, but those who are not found worthy will lose even the gifts they have already been given.
Now let us consider the lesson for these people who thought the kingdom was about to appear immediately since He was traveling to Jerusalem. Just because men are alive and are taken into the kingdom, this does not mean that they are going to be allowed to continue to enjoy the privileges of it. Yet these people were all concerned with when the kingdom was going to come. This was not the focus God wanted them to have. These people are not to be spending all their energy in looking for the coming of the kingdom, for that is in the hands of God. Rather, they should be looking to their own lives and what they are doing with what God has given them. It is their own faithful service, not just the luck of when you were born, that will make the difference in who enjoys the privileges of God’s kingdom and who does not. Therefore, they should make sure that they have what they need to be guaranteed a place in the kingdom. Otherwise, even if they are alive when the kingdom comes, they will not get to continue to enjoy its blessings, and even what they have will be taken away from them.
There is a lesson for us today as well in this passage. We too stand on the threshold of the kingdom of God. The symptoms we see in our world today lead us to believe that we are living in the last days of the dispensation of the grace of God, and that the kingdom may come at any time. We need to be sure that we have the things that God has offered to us, like the truths of the gospel and the truths of His Word, and most importantly the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. If we have, then even more will be given to us. But let us take care to be sure that we do have these things. Otherwise, though we may find ourselves to be living at the right time, the chance to enter the kingdom may be taken away from us.
27. “‘But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”
The nobleman now wants to take care of those enemies of his that did not want him to reign over them. He demands they be brought before him and slain in his presence. This was consistent with the actions of the cruel rulers of the past, who put down any chance at possible rebellions in ways much like this. Yet we can be certain too that when God’s kingdom comes, any who hate that kingdom and do not wish to see God reign over them even then will soon be weeded out of His government. He will not allow such men to remain on earth when He sets up His government over the world. Instead, they will be destroyed from His presence.