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1. Share the Word of God as found in the Bible.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Parable of the Kingdom of God


Luke 19:12-15 NET  Therefore he said, "A nobleman went to a distant country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.  (13)  And he summoned ten of his slaves, gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business with these until I come back.'  (14)  But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to be king over us!'  (15)  When he returned after receiving the kingdom, he summoned these slaves to whom he had given the money. He wanted to know how much they had earned by trading.

Background Information
As Jesus and the disciples neared Jerusalem, many thought the Kingdom of God would appear immediately.  Their understanding of the Old Testament scriptures, at this point, led them to understand the Messiah would appear and miraculously and instantly create the kingdom of blessings and prosperity for the nation of Israel.  All the descendants of the scattered twelve tribes would be brought back to the land.  The kingdom of Israel would extend to the boundaries given to Abraham.  All foreign powers would be removed from the land and Israel would be the controlling empire of the world.  The Passover celebration was a reminder of their deliverance from the slavery of Egypt and many desired deliverance from the Roman Empire.

The Jews only expected one climactic historical coming of God through the Messiah and the setting up of the Age of Righteousness with Jews in charge.  Many thought this would happen when Jesus came to Jerusalem at Passover.

The Nobleman to be King
Jesus tells a parable describing the Kingdom of God as it begins with Him, then He leaves and becomes King, and last He returns and judges His servants.  The nobleman is Jesus, who ascends to heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father as king of the Kingdom of God (or heaven).  In His absence His servants are given talents and resources to further the affairs of the kingdom.  Those who despised Him were not His servants and refused for Him to be their King.  At His return, His servants are required to explain their use of the talents and resources given them by the absent King.  Jesus explained that the kingdom would not come until a future time, but His servants should be faithful during the interim period to do the job assigned them.

The Settings of the Parable
The storyline of this parable had historical significance.  When Herod the Great died in 4 BC, he left Judea to his son Achelous, who had to go to Rome to have the inheritance approved. Not wanting Archelaus as their ruler, the Jews sent fifty men to argue their case before Augustus Caesar, who did ratify the inheritance without giving Archelaus the title of “king.”

The word “slaves” is the Greek word doulos which is defined as a household servant.  Ten servants are called and each are given a mina (form of money), but only three of them are questioned in the parable.  A “mina” is the Greek word maneh, which equals one hundred drachmas or one sixth of a talent. A drachma is equivalent to a denarius, which was the day's wage for a laborer or soldier. So this coin was equal to the wage of 100 days of labor.
The First Two Servants
The king returns to His kingdom, calls His servants, and inquires as to their dealings with the money given to them.  The first called servant states that the master’s mina increased by 10 times its original value.  The master was pleased and rewarded him authority over ten cities.

So the first one came before him and said, 'Sir, your mina has made ten minas more.' And the king said to him, 'Well done, good slave! Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you will have authority over ten cities.'
(Luke 19:16-17 NET)

The second servant declares the mina entrusted to him has increased by five.  The master rewards him with authority over five cities.

Then the second one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has made five minas.' So the king said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.'  (Luke 19:18-19 NET)

These men did their job faithfully even though they were promised no rewards and had no assurance that their master would even return, let alone secure the kingdom that he sought.

The Third Servant
The third servant approaches and hands the master his original mina without an increase because he hid it for safekeeping.  (Note:  some versions translate as cloth while others translate as the ground)  His reasoning is that he was afraid of the master because he was a severe (austere, hard, exacting, harsh) man.

This servant was unfaithful because his heart was not right toward his master. He saw his master as a hard man who was demanding and unfair. It could be said the servant did not love his master, but feared him and dreaded to displease him. Rather than lose the pound and anger his master, he guarded it so that he would at least have something to give the master if he returned and asked for a reckoning.

This third servant did not obey his master and as a result even lost the mina he was given. It is a basic principle of the Christian life that wasted opportunity means loss of reward and possibly loss of the privilege of service. If we do not use the gifts God gives us under His direction, why should we even have them? Perhaps someone else can make better use of the gifts for the Kingdom of God.

Then another slave came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina that I put away for safekeeping in a piece of cloth. For I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You withdraw what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.' The king said to him, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! So you knew, did you, that I was a severe man, withdrawing what I didn't deposit and reaping what I didn't sow? Why then didn't you put my money in the bank, so that when I returned I could have collected it with interest?' And he said to his attendants, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has ten.'
(Luke 19:20-24 NET)

The Citizens
The “citizens” or “enemies” mentioned at the beginning and the end of the parable are an  important part of the story, for most of the people in the crowd Jesus was talking to that day were probably in that category. Particularly if Jesus failed to produce the outcome they expected.  Jesus was near Jerusalem, and in a few days He would hear the mob shout, “We have no king but Caesar!”  In other words, “We will not have this Man to reign over us” as the citizens of the parable.

The Parable of the Talents teaches us to be faithful to use our different gifts as God gives us opportunities to serve. Some people have a great deal of ability, so God gives them greater opportunity. The important thing is not how much ability you have but how faithful you are to use what you have for the Lord. The person with the least ability, if he or she is faithful, will receive the same reward as the most gifted church leader.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon “It is always so, the gracious and faithful man obtains more grace and more means of usefulness, while the unfaithful man sinks lower and lower and grows 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.”

God was gracious to give the nation of Israel nearly forty years of grace before judgment fell on the temple and Jerusalem.  But we must be careful to see in this a warning to all who reject Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, for during this time while He is away in heaven, the Lord is calling men everywhere to repent and submit to the Kingdom of God (Heaven).

The faithful servants obeyed because they trusted their master and wanted to please him. The unfaithful servant disobeyed because he claimed to fear his master. But the citizens rebelled because they hated their king. 

We are living today in the period between Luke 19:14 and Luke 19:15 when our Master, the Lord Jesus is absent but will return according to His promise. We have been given a task to perform, and we must be faithful until He comes. What will the King say to us when He returns? Will His words mean reward, rebuke, or possibly retribution?

Didrachma, silver, (worth two drachmas or half a Shekel), the value of the Temple Tax - cf Mt.17.24. Traditionally this is the coin of the 30 pieces of silver - cf Mt.26.15, but this would not add up to the 30 Shekels of Ex.21.32.

1 comment:

  1. in the wilderness experience you must remember they had a slave mentality and Yahweh had to reteach them who they were . Thus 40 years of even serving idols in the wilderness was quite a task to say the least