We’ve been on the road to Jerusalem. Our text for this morning starts off by saying that Jesus told this parable because they were near Jerusalem. I think that’s the Bible’s way of saying that Jerusalem is the next exit.
You know how it is when you are on a road trip, especially one where you’ve been on the road for a while. You’ve been anticipating your arrival. You’ve been looking forward to it for quite some time. Then, when you see your exit—or when you know your exit is coming up—what do you do?
My wife will even sound like a stewardess on an airplane that is making its final descent. “Please make sure your loose items are stowed and your seats are in the upright position.”
When you are nearing your destination you basically make those final preparations and begin to wrap up whatever you’ve been doing on your travels.
It is my belief that our passage this morning is something of that final descent wrap up. We began this journey back in Galilee. In chapter 9 Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem. And throughout our journey Jesus has been teaching us about the life of a disciple. The heart of this book, the longest portion of this book has been focusing on the nature of discipleship.
And now Jesus is sort of wrapping up this intensive course on discipleship with this parable. We call it the parable of the Mina’s, after the unit of money that the master bestows upon his servants. And, I believe it is a fitting way to wrap up this journey. It really sums up well what is expected of us as his disciples.
This passage divides easily into three sections, with each section focusing on one of the characters in the parable. There are basically three characters: The master, the faithful servants, and the negligent servant. And so I’d like to break things down that way this morning.
And really, it is best to begin with the master and the trust that he bestows.
I. The Master bestows a special trust
In our passage Jesus likens himself to a nobleman who “went to a far country to receive for himself a kingdom.” (v. 12). But before he set off, he called his servants to himself and committed to them a certain sum of money (a mina).
Now, we are not sure exactly what the value of a mina really was. Scholars are divided on its worth. Some say it was around $20, and others say it could be up to $20,000! But, the value of the unit has no real bearing on the meaning of the parable. All we need to know is that the master has bestowed upon us a trust. And what is required of these servants is faithful service. The lesson is about proper stewardship. Servant are to be responsible. They are to take that money and improve upon it. They are to use it in a way that would benefit their master.
Now, what is this teaching. Well, I want to suggest to you that this parable is about discipleship. It is my belief that the trust that Jesus bestows upon us is his word. Throughout this series in these 10 chapters, Jesus has been giving us his word. He’s been discipling us and reminding us of how important it is to follow his word.
Now, coming to the end of his journey he’s saying, “Hey, I’ve bestowed upon you something of great value. I’ve given you everything you need to know to be my disciple. Now it is your responsibility to go out there and be a good steward of my word. You are to bring me glory by the way you obey this word and apply it in your lives.
Let’s pause here and think about how this fits. Turn back with me to Luke 9. You remember that we started off in 9:51-56. There we read about him setting his face towards Jerusalem and his encounter with the Samaritans who rejected him. These Samartians were essentially choosing not to be his followers. Then, the next passage, verses 57-62 Jesus spelled out the cost of discipleship. His first lesson, so to speak, on this journey was “This is what it really means to follow me.” In other words, being my disciple is going to mean you need to set me far above everything else in your life.
Then after that, we had the short term missions trip by the 70 that he sent out. The interesting thing about that passage is that it isn’t so much about what they did in going out as it was about what was going to happen to the people who heard the message. If they didn’t receive it, they would be held responsible for that. The more light they had, the more exposure to the revelation of God, the more responsible they were and the more harsh their punishment would be.
Do you see what Jesus is doing there? He’s pointing out how heavy a thing it is to be a disciple. Then for the next 9-10 chapters Jesus fills in what discipleship looks like. He calls down woes upon the Pharisees because they’re perverting the word of God—indicating that true disciples will be very careful with God’s word. He has a long section about repentance and points out that true disciples will be so cognizant of their failure to uphold that law that their life will be characterized by repentance. He talks about the nature of the kingdom and shows that a disciple will be a kingdom minded man who is cognizant of the way he lives in that kingdom.
Now, he has taught all these things. He has bestowed all this grand teaching. And now, here at the end of the road he reiterates this point: I am going away. I’ve given you this great teaching. You now are responsible to be a good steward of this word.
You know what the book of James says. He says we are to be doers of the word and not simply hearers. James says, “Don’t be like that man who looks at himself in mirror and then walks away and forgets what he looks like.” That’s to hear and not really listen. It is looking in a mirror and not really paying attention to what you saw there.
Jesus is kind of saying the same thing here. I’ve given you all these words. I’ve committed to you the invaluable treasure of my word. Now make sure you do something with it. Don’t be a fool who has heard these things but has not listened.
I want to reiterate this morning one of the things we’ve learned throughout this journey. Jesus has taught us that more light means more responsibility. And since you’ve been on this journey, you need to take great care with the things you’ve learned. You need to remember what Christ has said about himself and the need for repentance. And you need to improve on that.
II. The Faithful Servant receives a fitting reward
Now, the parable goes on to expand on this notion. Jesus tells us about the faithful servants who prove to be exemplary in their conduct. In verse 15-16 we are told about the first servant. He comes back and says, “Master, your mina has made ten minas more.” The master is overjoyed at this. And he rewards the servant by saying, “Well done good servant. You’ve been faithful over a little, I’ll give you 10 cities to rule over.”
The same is basically said for the next servant. His mina has made 5 minas more. And the master rewards him with 5 cities.
Now, again, it is my opinion that this is what God does to those who are faithful stewards of his word. There is coming a day when Jesus will come back. And when he comes he is going to judge the world. Those of us who have received this word and been diligent to obey it will be rewarded. The Lord is going to look upon us with great joy and he’s going to welcome us into the eternal kingdom. And in that kingdom we will be rewarded according to the level of responsibility we’ve shown.
Now, I know some of you probably looked at the faithful servants and thought, “Tough draw for the faithful servants! I mean, after all their hard work, they are given more work!” That’s not the way we typically like things to be. When we talk rewards, we want freedom from work. We want the vacation or the perks of kicking back.
But I think that really tells you something about the nature of heaven. I think a lot of people view heaven as the ultimate retirement plan. You know, a lot of people think that when they get to heaven it is going to be like hanging out at a 5 star resort for the rest of eternity. They get to sit by the poolside and sip colored drinks and just enjoy “the good life.” It is just one big vacation to a lot of people.
But that’s not what heaven is going to be like. I think that this passage implies that it is going to be a place where we continue to work and have responsibility. Work and responsibility is not a something that is a curse, or something that we are to avoid. It is a great blessing that we get to enjoy.
In other words, we are going to have more opportunities to bring more glory to God through our lives and through our productivity. Our obedience now is going to be enhance and multiplied in eternity so that the Lord will continue to receive honor in and through our conduct.
I think this may also imply that we will continue to learn more about the nature of God and his calling in our lives. Again, the idea here is discipleship and the reward for our faithfulness. And it is my opinion that our leaning and discipleship will not cease. We will have all eternity to learn more about the Lord. We will have all eternity to search out his infinite character. And as we receive more and more light, we will have more and more obedience, and thus, more and more opportunity to glorify our God.
What a joy that is for us who believe. The one thing that is our joy (i.e. our admiration of the Lord) will be rewarded and enhanced in the kingdom to come. We get to look forward to a fuller expression of our faith and deeper enjoyment of God’s honor and glory.
But let’s not forget the other servant. The passage not only tells us of the trust that the master bestows and the reward that the faithful receive. It also focuses in on the slothful servant and the punishment that is his.
III. The slothful servant receives a severe punishment
In verse 20 it tells us that one of the servants came before his master and gave back the mina which he had been given. Now, it is interesting that this mina was paid in full. He didn’t steal a dime. Every penny was there.
You might have even said that this last servant was very careful with the money. He put it in a hankercheif and kept it safe the whole time the master was gone. And when he returned, he brought it back without anything missing.
But that wasn’t enough, was it? No. The master says, “You wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why didn’t you at least put it in the bank so that I could have at least made a little interest with it?”
You see how this servant frustrates the master? Now think of what that means in terms of the parallel. Jesus has entrusted you with his word, what does that mean for your life? It means that if you don’t do anything with it, then you are a wicked person. If you are negligent and do not apply that word in your life, then you are an unfaithful servant.
But come on! I heard it! And I heard it gladly! I went to church each Sunday. I sat in on the Bible studies! I listened to the radio broadcasts! I heard the word and even went out of my way to hear it!
Friends, don’t be foolish. It is not enough to hear the word. Christ could care less if you have an encyclopedic knowledge of his word. If you are not applying it and obeying it, it is a dead letter so far as he is concerned. If you are not living a life of repentance and seeking to honor Christ’s word in your life, then you will be damned.
Christ said elsewhere, “If you are not for me, you are against me.” There is no lukewarmness in this faith. And you can be condemned not so much for what you did wrong, but what you didn’t do. Failure to be diligent is just as much an atrocity as outright attacks on Christ.
And I think that is something of what Jesus is saying in the parable. We skipped over the part about the delegation that was sent after the master. Verse 14 tells us that some of the citizens of that kingdom hated the master and they went to advocate against the master receiving the kingdom. Then at the end of the passage it tells us that these people were rounded up and slaughtered.
Now, everyone who heard this parable would have picked up on to what Jesus was referring to here. After Herod the Great died, his son, Archeleaus, went to Rome to have his rule in Judea confirmed. And there was a delegation of 50 Jews who went there too to argue against it. Knowing the character of Archeleaus, they wanted to make the case that he shouldn’t be their ruler.
Well, it didn’t work. Archeleaus was confirmed by the Emperor, and guess what happened to those 50 men when they got back? When you come to power, you typically want to make a statement. You don’t want people questioning your power. So they were rounded up and hewn down.
So when Jesus mentions this part of the parable, you can betch ya that everyone knew exactly what he was referring to.
His point here though, of course, regards the Jews of his day. Jesus is making a very poignant statement about their enmity. A point that I believe came to its fulfilment in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
The point is this: You failed to observe my word. You failed to heed the call of discipleship and acknowledge me as Lord, therefore you will be destroyed.
So, as our journey to Jerusalem draws to a close, our Lord makes one more sobering call to you. You must understand that your journey is drawing to a close as well. Your walk upon this earth only has so many days allotted to it. And when this journey is done, you must understand that you will be called before the great master of all the earth to account for your life.
Our Lord has bestowed upon you the trust of his word. He has called you into a life of discipleship. If your come to him and take up that call—If you are diligent to serve him and apply these words to your life, our Lord will be exceedingly glad and will greatly rewarded on the last great day.
But if you are negligent, you will be cursed. If you are lazy and do not take to heart the things that have been here spoken, you will be found to be an enemy of the state. Know for sure that those who are sluggardly with the truth of Scripture will be gathered together before the Lord and cast into the slaughterhouse of hell.
Just as the faithful experience the abundance of God’s pleasure, you will experience the severity of his stern justice. He will mow you down in his anger if you have not sought to serve him and further advance his glory.
So let not your road end with another day of sloth and sluggardly inattentiveness to his law. Repent of your laxity and flee the indifference that now characterizes your life. Turn to Christ today and become his disciple while he yet allows you grace.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.