2010 Luke’s Gospel
Put This Money To Work
Luke 19: 11-27
Key Verse: 19:13 "So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’"
Last week, we began a new fall semester. We look forward to learning and growing. We hope that this new semester would be better than the last one. But we again realize that there will be difficult days ahead, days that we don't feel like studying. Yet we will study somehow, for we know that at the end of the semester there will be exams. This sense of accountability enables us to be faithful in study, even when we do not feel like it. In our life of faith, we need this same sense of accountability. It helps us to be faithful in serving Jesus. In order to plant the sense of accountability, Jesus tells us the parable of the minas in today’s passage. We will study in two parts. The first part (11-12) focuses on Jesus' promise to come again as King. The second part (13-27) considers what we must do as we await his return. May our Lord's word today inspire us to good works for his glory!
I. "He was made king, however...." (11-12)
Look at verse 11. “While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” People around Jesus listened very carefully to what he said. “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Some of them were very perplexed, for Jesus blessed the chief tax collector even though he was the worst sinner of all. Some of them were wondering what Jesus meant when he said he came to seek and to save what was lost by saying, “Who is lost?” Nothing about Jesus’ teachings was clear to them. But one thing was clear that they did not know what was going on in spite of Jesus’ endeavor. That, however, did not hinder Jesus from teaching them about the kingdom of God. It did not matter whether or not they understood because Jesus was for sure that they would figure them out after all prophesies about Jesus were to be fulfilled. Thus, he continued to tell them an interesting story about the kingdom of God. Moreover, Jesus felt that it was necessary to tell them that the kingdom of God would not appear at once as they expected for he was near Jerusalem. As Jesus was near Jerusalem, they expected Jesus' power and authority to bring the glorious kingdom of God at once. They dreamed a dream that Jesus would put all their oppressors under his feet and declare victory and glory in Jerusalem just like the good days of King David. However, as we know well, Jesus would be rejected and die on the cross miserably from human point of view. When we believe Jesus we also expect something great in our life at once. But many times we get disappointed and frustrated. It is because we are just like the people in the passage who dreamed an immediate Messianic kingdom.
Look at verses 12. “He said: ‘A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.’” Jesus began his story with a man of noble birth. The man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. When people heard this story, they might have been reminded of the story of one of Herod the Great’s sons, Archelaus appearing once in the Bible (Matthew 2:22). Archelaus went to Rome to receive his appointment as king over the opposition of his subjects who had also appealed to Rome. Under Roman Empire’s authority, he was made king despite the opposition. With the story, Jesus intended to let people realize his kingdom would not appear at once. The reference to a distant country in the story means that he cannot be expected to return very soon. And yet, like the man of noble birth, Jesus the Son of God would return definitely with full recognition of his status as King to reign in the Kingdom of God. Jesus would be also hated by the leaders of Jerusalem, not because he is an evil ruler, but because as Messiah he threatens their power and position.
II. "Put this money to work" (13-27)
Look at verse 13. “So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’” The future king gathers ten of his servants and assigns them a task. It seems like a TV program called Unlimited Challenge in which each member should complete their assignment that is beyond their own ability. The mission that ten servants in the passage should complete is to put each mina to work. In other words, they should do business, or trade with their one mina. Servants were given money to invest and work with to see how much they could increase the amount. For your information, one mina is equal to around $10,000, which is comparably smaller than one talent that is equal to around $600,000. Since each is given a relatively small sum, the noble man’s purpose might be not increasing his wealth so much as testing to see which his servants would be worthy of greater responsibility in his kingdom when he returns. Interestingly, the man of noble birth does not dictate how to use the money. He gives freedom to use it according to their own creative wisdom. It represents his trust in his servants. It was their opportunity to serve him while he is away.
What do these small investments represent? I believe they represent the spiritual gifts, abilities, "talents," and knowledge that he has passed on to his disciples -- to you and to me. What is your mina? It could be in spirit or in body. Some of you are given ability to teach, to encourage, to give, to serve, and to lead others. Some of you have natural talents such as the ability to sing, write, paint or play musical instrument. Each one of us received a different mina from God and what we have now could be less important than the ones others have. However, it is fair that every single one has received at least one mina from God and the real question is what we will do with the portion he has entrusted to us. Even though you have received many minas, it is useless for you to have many if you waste them only for your glory and pleasure. Most of all, all of us here in Christ have sufficient grace of new life that Jesus gave us. With new life in Christ I myself try hard to put my minas to work expecting Jesus’ return. One of minas I have is to enjoy preparing Sunday worship service message and to delivering it with glad heart in the middle of my hectic schedule. However, I am not sure how graceful and powerful my message is, and yet one thing is sure that my message does not make people fall asleep at least. If you are not sure about your talent, please pray to God to find it inside yourself. That’s the first step before we work hard. Let me give you some tips sort of guideline in finding your mina or talent. First, it is something you like very much. When you use your talent, you are always to be happy even though you get tired or have hard time. Second, it is something you are fairly good at. Even though you like it very much, it is not your talent if you are not good at it. I love to play soccer, and yet I am not good at it. That’s not my talent, period. It’s just a kind of hobby. Third, it is something that should not harm but benefit others. Although you like stealing and you are happy with it and never get tired of, and most of all you are really good at it, it is not your talent because it harms others. Each of us has received talents and gifts that can be used to serve God's work. Most of all we have received the world mission command to make disciples of all nations. I pray that we may put our lives to work by faith and participate in the gospel ministry for the king who will return in God’s time.
Look at verses 14-15a. “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don't want this man to be our king.’ He was made king, however, and returned home.” Even though the man of noble birth was hated by his subjects, he came back as king ruling over them. Even if Jesus’ enemies including the Pharisees, the scribes, the chief priest’s family and members of Sanhedrin hate him, saying, “We don’t want this former carpenter to be our king.” Each of these groups will, in the next week, intensify their efforts to see Jesus killed. Sadly, Jesus the Messiah is hated by the leaders of his subjects. But his appeal for Kingship is not to his subjects but to his Father. Philippians 2:8-11 read “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Jesus will come again as the King of kings. The return of Jesus as King will be his Second Coming.
Look at verses 15b-17. “Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’” When the king returned, he sent for his servants to find out what they had gained with his minas. The first servant came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” He earned 10 times his portion. The master said to him, "Well done, my good servant! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities'" (17). The master praised his servant's good work. Good work comes from good attitude or character. So the master praised his good character as a matter of fact. That’s not the end. Surprisingly, the master put his servant in charge of ten cities. You take care well of one mina, then you take charge of ten cities. It’s is unbelievable and incredible promotion. Spiritually speaking, this means that Jesus' servants will reign with him in his glorious kingdom. The credentials for Jesus’ glorious kingdom are very simple. What is it? It is in the Bible. It is to be trustworthy in a very small matter. We should be trustworthy with a small matter to begin with. Actually, no master would give his servant a big matter from the beginning. So many young people easily get disappointed when their vision and ambition are very great because all they do is what seems to be a very small matter. When I started my job at the bank, my first job was to make coffee. I wondered if I studied that much to make coffee. I thought I never learned to make coffee well in school. So I was greatly disappointed and became miserable for a while. But year after year in my patience, I realized that my job has been changed to bigger and more important matters. It seems like I am the boss in the office in a sense of the importance of job I carry out. For JBF members it is good practice and discipline to serve God’s work with their heart in order to be trustworthy in a small matter. It seems small for you what you do now. But if you keep being trustworthy from your youth in serving God’s work, you will be doing well everywhere-at center, at school, and at work when you become grown-up. Hee sung is very trustworthy in babysitting Jacob even though it is a small matter to her. She gives Jacob her love in taking care of him, not because of money but because of her sincere heart. The point being is that we must be trustworthy in a very small matter with good character. Then we will be entrusted even with ten cities. This is God’s glory in his kingdom we can see in our lives. Trustworthiness in small things is the secret of success.
Look at verses 18-19. “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’” Here we see a second servant. He had the same original capital of one mina. With it, he had earned five more. His master told him, "You take charge of five cities." We do not know why this one earned five while the first servant earned ten. There must be a good reason. Nevertheless, he was blessed and rewarded by his master to the degree that he had proved himself faithful. This teaches us the character of the master: he is discerning and just in rewarding his servants.
Look at verses 20-21 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’” Now the real story begins with the third servant who is different than the other two. The story could be over with happy ending. But that’s not the case. The situation is that he did not do anything with his mina. He just kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. Maybe the economic situation was not that good just like our current time. So he might hesitate doing business. Or he thought his master would never come back as many people in our days do not believe in Jesus’ second coming. He might just take it easy and become lazy. While he watched his colleagues the other two servants work very hard day and night, he might scoff at them. “Huh, what are you guys doing? The master will never come back. Chill out!” But the day truly came to him for accountability. He must be embarrassed and he made an excuse, saying, “I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.” Actually he accused his master of his strictness. But his master was not hard or strict at all as we see how he dealt with the other two servants. Rather he is very reasonable and sees inner person. Then, what’s wrong with the third servant?
Look at verses 22-23 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’” Here we see the master’s judgment for the servant. “You are wicked servant!” This is what the third servant was. In the day of the master’s return he was judged and revealed as a wicked man. His eloquent excuse did not work before his master. As a matter of fact, the other two must have been working so hard even though we do not see the details of their working. To make a profit in doing business is not easy as it looks in a completive market. Do you know James Dyson? He invented bagless vacuum cleaner, which was too innovative to be in the market in the past years when the one with bag was popular. For the invention, he failed more than 5000 times. When you fail one or two times in the exam, most of you will lose your confidence. But James never gave up. With his hard work, he also invented a fan without blade that looks just a big ring. But amazingly the ring generates strong wind without blade. His innovative, creative, persistent mind leads to great success in doing his business in the completive market. He said that success comes from 99 times of failure. When we think about James Dyson, we can imagine how hard the first two servants worked and how deeply they thought with creative mind and persistency to make huge profit. In contrast, the wicked servant just did not do anything, only thinking about making a good excuse or forgot that he was a servant and his master would come back. At least he must have tried something, and even though he failed or lost his mina in doing business, still the master would give him a city to take charge of because of his challenge spirit, thinking of the master’s character.
Look at verses 24-26 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ ’Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.” Finally, his master said, "Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas" (24). Here we see that the master did not want his mina back. The master wanted his servants to use his mina as an expression of their faith. We should know that Jesus takes blessings and opportunities from unfaithful people and gives them to faithful people. Jesus said, "I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away" (26). Jesus’ second coming is for sure. If we work hard for Jesus like the first two servants until he comes back, God will give us great reward in the kingdom of God. However, if we do nothing with the entrusted mina forgetting or disregarding Jesus’ return, we will be judged shamefully and there is nothing for us in the kingdom of God.
Luke leaves no doubt about what happens to those who opposed the king's reign. In verse 27 the master says, "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me" (27). Jesus' enemies will perish without mercy.
In this passage we learned that Jesus will return to this world as King of kings and Lord of lords despite all opposition. Then he will call his servants to account. Those who put their lives to work by faith and produced a profit for him will be rewarded. Those who squandered his grace will be shamed. Let's put our new lives in Christ to work for him.
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