Sermon on Luke 19:11-27
Text: 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. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
15 “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.
16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 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.’
22 “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? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
26 “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. 27 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.’”
The children were busy watching television and playing video games, when they saw the headlights pull into the driveway. Terror gripped their hearts because they knew their parents had come home from their night out. The reason for the terror was that, before the parents left, they had given strict instructions to their children that their rooms were to be clean by the time they got home. The children had put it off and got distracted by other things. They ran upstairs to try to do it quickly, but it was too late. The children would be grounded for failing to do the work while their parents were gone. It is a similar scenario that Jesus uses today to teach us about Judgment Day. This morning we are reminded that THE KING OF HEAVEN WILL SURELY RETURN 1. With Rewards Of Grace For The Faithful and 2. With Just Punishment For The Wicked.
We learn of the occasion for this parable, as we read, “[Jesus] was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” The people had seen Jesus heal a blind man. He was on his way to Jerusalem. Perhaps, this would be the time when he would begin his overthrow of the Roman government. By means of this parable, Jesus taught his listeners that they were not to be concerned about when the kingdom of God would appear. Rather, they should concern themselves with what they were doing in the meantime.
Jesus begins the parable by saying, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.” This was a common practice in Jesus’ time. For example, Herod and his sons went to Rome to receive official ruling power in Palestine. This did not sit well with the citizens of that country. As a matter of fact, they hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We don’t want this man to be our king.” We will talk more about them later.
Before this nobleman left, “he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’” A mina is a unit of money, which was worth about 3 ½ months wages. Each of the ten servants was given this mina. They did not earn it. They did not deserve it. They were, however, to make use of this gift, this mina, until the master returned.
The nobleman in this parable is Jesus. He has returned to heaven to sit on the right hand of the Father. We, his servants, have been given a precious gift. We have been given the Means of Grace, the Gospel message in his Word and in the sacraments. This is not something that we have earned. It is not something that we have deserved. As a matter of fact, we do not even deserve to be called his servants. We were born outside of the household of God. We were born in sin and we continue to sin every day. We would have been lost forever. However, Jesus, the one who is noble because he is the Son of God came to our earth and rescued us from sin, death, and the devil. By living for us and dying for us and rising again, our sins have been forgiven. This wonderful message has been shared with us. This is the gift that Jesus has given us to use, while he is in heaven. We might think of the marching orders that Jesus gave before he returned to heaven. He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19,20)
There are many ways that we can put this gift to work. We can serve faithfully in many different areas. We put this gift to work at home as we teach our children about God’s amazing love for them. We use this gift whenever God’s Word is taught in our congregations, as well as every time we make use of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We make use of it when we take the opportunities that God gives us to share our faith with our friends and co-workers. We serve indirectly when we give the best of what we have to support the work of gospel sharing in our local congregation, in our country and around the world. We have been given this gift and we are to use it.
Going back to the parable, we read that, in spite of the opposition, the nobleman was made king and then returned home. The return was a sudden one. The servants did not know exactly when he would return. “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 day of reckoning had come. The first servant said, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” In response, his master said, “Well done, my good servant! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” The master praised his servant. Then, the second servant came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned five more.” His master answered, “You take charge of five cities.” Both of these servants did not take credit for what had happened. They both said, “Your mina has earned.” Both servants had been faithful in their use of the mina and were rewarded proportionately.
This day of reckoning is a picture of the Last Day. All will stand before the Lord and make an account of their time on this earth. These believers used the gift of the Gospel that God had given them. There had been results because of their use of the Means of Grace. One achieved more success than the other. God blessed their ministry with more results than the other. The fault did not lie with the message. One servant did well. The other servant did to the best of his ability. Yet, they were both faithful to the task that God had given them to do. The fact that one servant received 10 cities as a reward while the other received 5 cities reminds us that there are degrees of glory in heaven. What this exactly means or how it will be distinguished is not exactly clear from God’s Word. Regardless of what degree of glory you might experience when you get there, you will not feel like you are missing out or jealous that someone got better than you. You will still be in heaven and enjoying all of the joys and blessings that come with it. The point that Jesus is making in this part of the parable is that, when the King of heaven returns, he will bring rewards of grace for those who have been faithfully carrying out his gospel directive.
There was one more servant to appear before his master. “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.’” He hid the mina in a piece of cloth that should have been used to wipe the sweat away from his brow because of the labor. This servant made all sorts of accusations against his master. He tried to give excuses why he didn’t carry out his master’s wishes. He was afraid that the master would take more than his share of the profit. He was using these excuses to try to cover up his laziness and unfaithfulness to the task at hand. As a result, the master said, “Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.” The gift that had been given to this servant was taken away from him. As a result, he lost out on the blessings that would have been his from his master. In the end, he lost everything.
Unfortunately, the same thing happens in Christ’s church. These so-called Christians, these hypocrites, who have been entrusted with the Means of Grace do not use them as Christ commands that they be used. They neglect the work. They are never interested in it. They are too busy for it. They make the excuse, like the servant, that there is nothing in it for them. They will take the Gospel message and hide it away from the rest. They hide their faith, hoping that no one will notice that they are different from everyone else. They do the Christian thing on Sunday morning, but please don’t ask any more than that! To such a servant, what they had will be taken away from them. Elsewhere, Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38) May God help us to be faithful in our duties that our loving Master has given us. The King of heaven will surely return with just punishment for the wicked.
Going back to the parable, we remember the countrymen, who hated the nobleman and did not want him to be their king. He was made king, however, and at his return, we hear him say, “Those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.” This is pointing to those who reject Jesus. There are many who fit into this group. There were his countrymen, who sought his death. There are many today, who think that they can follow whomever they wish, even if it is themselves, and they will be fine. On the Last Day, they will see for themselves that there was but one way to be saved. They rejected him and they will be lost forever. Again, as we said earlier, the King of heaven will surely return with just punishment for the wicked.
So, what is Jesus teaching us by this parable? It is this. Make the best use of the gift of the gospel while you can. Share it with as many people as you can. Make full use of the Means of Grace yourself. You do not know when the Lord will return and it will no longer be possible to put the gospel to use. This Gospel message is so wonderful. It assures us that we have been forgiven, even for those times when we have not been as faithful in our duties as the Lord’s servants. It motivates us to share this wonderful news with others. Dear Christians, we do not have to be afraid of our King’s return. Let us be faithfully about our tasks until that time. Amen.
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