On His final trip to Jerusalem, Jesus visited several towns and villages along the way, teaching and healing those who came to Him. His ministry was gathering steam as more and more people started following Him. Jesus’ popularity drew such large crowds that when they were passing through the ancient city of Jericho, a tiny man named Zacchaeus had to climb up a tree just to get a glimpse of Him. When Jesus went with Zacchaeus to his home, it spurred him to disburse his ill-gotten wealth to the poor. Jesus even called Zacchaeus, a tax collector who was deemed a sinner by the Pharisees, a son of Abraham. At this time, Jesus started narrating The Parable of the Ten Minas which on the surface may seem about blessings and endowments but Jesus was conveying a much deeper meaning to His critics and to all of us.
“A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’Luke 19:12-14 (NIV)
To the Jewish audience, this scenario would have reminded them of how their own local kings would get themselves appointed. Kings of local regions needed to go to the capital to be crowned chiefs of their state. Even today, MPs or senators have to go to the capital to be sworn in as the chiefs of their state. In those days, men of noble birth who thought of themselves as the rightful heir would go to the authorities in Rome to be appointed as king. Herod was one of the local kings installed over a Jewish territory by the Roman government.
However, it seems like Jesus is talking about himself, as this parable is followed by Jesus Himself entering Jerusalem as a king. The crowds that were following Him were anticipating a triumphal entry, fit for any king as they neared Jerusalem. He is also calling out the hatred that the Pharisees and the religious leader had for Him as they followed Him all through the country and wrote back to the headquarters of what all they found wrong with Jesus and His teachings. They were never going to accept that Jesus is the Messiah who the authors of the scriptures were alluding to.
The King Returns
“He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.Luke 19:15-19 (NIV)
“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.’
“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
“His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
The first two servants knew their master’s heart and were able to do a good job that pleased their master. Everyone wants to hear that they have done a good job, from someone who is above them. Kids want to hear this from their parents for a chore completed, students from their teachers for a well-researched paper, employees from our bosses for a job excellently done. But we must remember that our ultimate goal should be hearing these words from the mouth of God when He is talking about us. These men were rewarded for their hardwork and dedication towards their master and they were now given cities to govern over.
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.’Luke 19:20-24 (NIV)
…You knew, did you, that I am a hard man … then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
Some people follow God out of fear as they feel He is a ‘Hard Man’ and might punish them for their disobedience. They try to follow all the outward religious acts without actually loving God. These people are no different from the subjects who had rejected the noble man’s claim to the throne and sent a delegation to make sure this man does not become a king.
The servant who did not put His master’s money to use is perhaps in the same boat as the others and did not expect His master to return as a king. Because of his hatred for his master, even though he feared him he was not going to act on his instructions and did what was best for himself. People who say that they are followers of God but have no desire to obey Him are like this servant, who only put on an outward show of respect but had no desire to follow his master’s instructions.
…those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.Luke 19:27 (NIV)
Kings who came into power would often ensure that the first order of business is to get rid of anyone who was an obstacle in their paths to their thrones. They did this by killing the people who rebelled against them to lay down the order of things to come during their reign. This happened even when Israel’s own ruled the land. They wanted to send a message to all their critics by such acts of brutality. Today as governments come into power in democratic nations, they pass bills that hurt the supporters of their opposition. Many people think that by including the fate of the hostile subjects, Jesus was prophesying Jerusalem’s impending destruction. But more importantly, this seems like a warning to all, as Jesus was letting us know our awaited fate should we reject Jesus’ claim to His Father’s throne.
People misinterpret this Parable and think that Jesus is talking about our talents or endowments, however, in our lives, the Minas could represent many things. It could mean the gifts of the Spirit that God has given us or the souls that He has placed under our care or the life that He has given to us. It could also be something as simple as the day to day tasks that He has assigned for us. Christ did not ask Zacchaeus to give away his wealth but wanted him to wholeheartedly invite God into his heart.
We have partially accepted Christ as our Saviour for different reasons. Some fear God, some face peer pressure from their church fellowships and some simply adopt the religion of their parents because it was convenient. Till the time we don’t truly love our King, we will not know His heart and will try to hide from Him at every instance. We will be like Adam and Eve, who when disconnected from God due to their sin, did not know how to face God after their disobedience and their fears made them hide from Him.
We often think that the verse “To whom more is given more is expected” applies to only tithes and offerings. But it applies to our connection with God as well. To those who have a greater understanding of God’s words, they must learn to be patient when they see others’ disregard for it. To those who have been given the gifts of the Spirit must not make others feel worthless. All of us are given what we have according to God’s will and not on our own merit. If God took into account our deeds before giving us our reward, then we would be rotting in a prison, much like the lazy servant and the disloyal subjects.
- Why did Jesus narrate this Parable?
- Why punish someone for keeping the mina safely stashed away?
- Why did Jesus talk about the killing of the hostile subjects?
- Minas, Talents, bags of Gold, the scripture uses various ways to describe the currency of this parable, what can these represent in our lives?
- What is Christ expecting from us?