Before you start reading this message, I encourage you to get the Biblical background by reading Luke 19:11-27. Jesus is on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem as He prepares to offer Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. His Disciples are with Him, along with the crowds of people heading for Jerusalem for the annual Passover.
CONFUSION CONCERNING THE KINGDOM
His Disciples are confused about the truth He has been teaching concerning His Kingdom. They evidently expect it to take place immediately. So Jesus tells the story in this passage to correct them and explain to them that His Kingdom is not going to be set up at that time. Later on as He talks to them on the Mount of Olives in what is known as His Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24 and 25 He repeats some of His teaching concerning His future Kingdom by telling other stories, such as the Parable of the Ten Virgins, recorded in Matthew 25:1-13 and His Parable of the Talents recorded in the same chapter, verses 14-30. In each of these stories, Jesus emphasizes that His earthly Kingdom is not going to be established at that time, but will be delayed for an unspecified period of time.
Though the story of the talents in Matthew 25 and the story of the Pounds in Luke 19 are very similar, yet they are not duplicates. Each teaches different lessons. In this message we want to focus on His story in Luke 19.
INVESTING FOR ETERNITY
Jesus tells a story of a nobleman who prepares to leave his servants for an unspecified length of time. He gives to each of his ten servants a measure of money known as one pound. Each pound is equivalent to 50 shekels or 20 ounces of silver.
What could you do with silver? The facts are that between July 1, 2003 and November 30, 2006 while the price of gold rose 84%, the price of silver increased more than 200%, Of course, the prices of precious metals is very volatile, so I am not making any predictions or investment suggestions for you regarding the future; only that I who am now 75 am not putting any money into that market, for I probably don’t have enough time left to recover from a down market.
But getting back to the story in Luke 19, we read of three of the ten servants. What the seven did, we do not know. One invested his pound and made 10 pounds. Another invested his pound and made 5 pounds. A third was fearful and just took his pound and wrapped it in a napkin and hid it. Of course, he earned nothing.
When the nobleman returned to set up his kingdom and to receive an accounting from his servants, he was pleased with the servant who had earned ten pounds and rewarded him by making him ruler over ten cities. The servant who had earned five pounds was likewise rewarded with rulership over five cities. However, the servant who hid his pound in a napkin was reprimanded and his one pound was taken from him and given to the servant whose pound had grown to ten. That servant had proven his investment skills.
Now, let’s examine this story and note the applications for ourselves. Again, I remind you that the reason Jesus tells this story is to clarify the confusion in the minds of His disciples concerning His Kingdom, as is explained in Luke 19:11. But more important than that, His purpose as verse 13 declares is to challenge us to be faithfully occupied with His concerns until He returns.
Later in Act 1:6-11 as Jesus is preparing to ascend back to Heaven, He challenges His Apostles to not be caught up in surmising about when Christ will return to establish His Kingdom; but rather they and we are be occupied with fulfilling His Great Commission which is repeated in the final chapter in each of the four Gospels.
The nobleman is, no doubt, a picture of Jesus who is about to leave this earth for a long, unspecified period of time and then return to establish His Kingdom on this earth.
Likewise in Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus is pictured as the Bridegroom who leaves to prepare a place for His Bride and returns unexpectedly. The point of the story is that the Bride, His Church, must be watchful and ready for His imminent return.
In I Corinthians 3:1-15 Paul warns us to not be caught up in “preacher worship”; but in working together to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission. Here we are warned that we are going to give an account to God for the way we invested our lives. Some Christians are going to be rewarded. Others will suffer great loss.
Every born again believer is expected to be a faithful servant of God. That is clearly taught in Romans 12:1-2 and in II Corinthians 5:14-20, I encourage you to read both those passages and settle the matter right now. Are you going to be Christ’s servant or are you going to ignore this responsibility? Two kinds of servants are described in our story in Luke 19. In verses 17-19 we learn of the faithful servants and their rewards. In verses 2-22 we learn of the unfaithful servants, who are described as lazy and wicked. Which are you?
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY?
Luke 19:13 clearly spells it out. “Occupy till I come”, Jesus says to us. What does that word “occupy” mean? The Greek word translated occupy is pragmatuomi. That word implies that what we do must be practical; not merely theoretical. Christ does not want us to waste our time focusing on the theories of Christianity. Too many Christians are focusing all their attention on the theories of Christ’s return. All we need to be concerned about is that He is returning again to reward His faithful servants and we are to spend our lives putting our hands and our feet, as well as our heart, into the work of Christ.
In Romans 10:15 we read of the Christian’s beautiful feet who carry the Gospel to those who do not know it. As James teaches, Christianity is more than simply abstract theory. It is practical. It involves work and sweat as we meet the physical and spiritual needs of people who have never heard or comprehended the Gospel.
HOW BIG IS YOUR TALENT?
It doesn’t matter. It’s not our concern. God is the one who gives the talents and abilities. It is our responsibility to simply use the talents He has given us. Let us not waste our time comparing our talents with one another and boasting of ours, or feeling sorry for ourselves because we do not have another’s talents. The distribution of our talents is according to Matthew 25:14-15 “as He will” I Corinthians 12:4-11 teaches identically the same truth. He gives His gifts to us “as He will”.
WE ALL HAVE THE SAME RESOURCES
Though we have diverse talents and abilities, we all have the same resources. Look at them.
1. We all have the same powerful Gospel that saves, as Paul declares in Romans 1:16. We do not save anyone. We simply love sinners and present the Gospel to them. His Gospel alone has the power to save. It’s not our schemes or our psychological approach that saves. It is His powerful Gospel, plain and simple.
2. We all have the same weapons for dealing with Satan. They are listed in Ephesians 6:10-17. We all have the same weapon of prayer, See verse 18.
3. We all have the same power of the Holy Spirit. See Acts 1:8, I Corinthians 12:4, and II Corinthians 3:5.
4. As the various members of our body all have need of one another in order to be healthy and useful, so we are all members of the same Body, the spiritual Body of Christ. Romans 12:3-5, Ephesians 5:30. Let’s not get so wrapped up in our denomination or association of churches, that we fail to understand that all true Christians who are trusting in Christ alone for their salvation are all a part of His one spiritual Body. We are members one of another and we need each other. Paul warns in I Corinthians 12:21 that we cannot look at other Christians and sneer, “I have no need of you!” That is the height of pride and arrogance.
THE LAW OF SYNERGY
As members of our human body each need to be working well for the total health and usefulness of our body, so each of us as Christians and members of Christ’s Body need to be faithfully fulfilling our calling in order for the Law of Synergy to work in Christ’s Body. That Law is that we can accomplish more together than we can each working independently.
That’s why we gather together in local churches, rather than Christian families each doing their own thing apart from one another. That’s why Churches of like precious faith can work together in joint efforts to win the lost to Christ. Together, we can accomplish more than working independently doing our own thing.
Christ is glorified, saints are edified and the lost are evangelized in churches where each member is faithfully fulfilling His spiritual gifts in love, humility and in dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.
WHAT CRIPPLES OUR EFFECTIVENESS?
When we, as the unfaithful servant in Luke 19:20-22, fear that Christ is too harsh, unreasonable and demanding and expects more from us than is possible, then we are not going to make any effort to serve Him and use our talents for His glory.
Those of us who because of laziness refuse to do our part in serving God are classified by Christ as slothful and wicked servants, Let us not blame the weather or anything else for our laziness or indifference for not serving the Lord. Rather, just call it sin and confess it to God as sin. With the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:16, let us “redeem the time for the days are evil.”
Let us determine to be faithful in our service for Christ so that one day we can hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew 25:21, Luke 19:17.
We continue our study of the Nobleman and his servants in Luke 19:11-27.
THE MAIN CHARACTERS
First, we see the Nobleman who goes into a far country to receive a Kingdom. This Nobleman is a type or picture of Jesus who returned to Heaven after His resurrection. Before He leaves, He gives each of his ten servants a pound of silver to invest with plans to reward them according to their faithfulness when He returns.
Next we see a sampling of his faithful servants. One earns ten pounds on the investment of his one pound. Another servant earns five pounds on the investment of his pound. When Jesus returns, He rewards his faithful servants with positions of responsibility when He establishes His Millennial reign, prophesied throughout the Bible. For more on this I direct you to my series on PROPHECY on this web site.
Then we see the unfaithful servant who is fearful of investing his pound. He wraps it in a napkin instead and hides it. The Nobleman is displeased with this servant whom He describes as slothful and wicked. His one pound is given to the servant who earned 10 pounds on his investment.
Finally, we see the wicked citizens who rejected the rule of the Nobleman when He returned to reign.
THE FAITHFUL SERVANTS
The faithful servants in Jesus’ story represent His faithful servants who are not only saved, but living for Christ and serving Him faithfully. The New Testament repeatedly refers to these servants of Christ and the rewards that await them at Christ’s second coming. Note I Corinthians 3:11-15, 6:1-3. II Corinthians 5:9-10, Romans 14:10-13, II Timothy 2:12, Revelation 20:1-6.
Be aware of God’s grace; not only in our salvation, but also concerning our service and rewards. At the judgment the faithful servant does not says, “Wait till you see what I did, Lord!” Rather, He humbly announces, “Thy pound has gained 10 pounds. He glorifies Christ who gave him the pound and prospered the investment. His only virtue was faithfulness and that faithfulness was simply the faithfulness of Christ working in and through him. What makes any Christian great? Psalm 18:35 reminds us that it is God’s gentleness in His dealings with us that makes anyone great. Apart from His gentleness in His dealings with us, all of us would fall flat on our faces as failures.
Don’t ever forget this as parents or as teachers or mentors. You make your children or your students great through dealing with them in gentleness and humility. Maybe that doesn’t work for a Marine Drill Sergeant, but I’ll bet it does. No matter how tough you are on your recruits, if you are going to make something of them, hidden beneath that tough exterior, that recruit needs to know you care about him and that you want to see him succeed. Beneath that harsh, tough exterior is a kind, gentle heart.
Christ’s servants do not all have the same responsibilities in life, but regardless of the responsibilities we have, we are required to be faithful.
THE UNFAITHFUL SERVANT
In Luke 19:20 we read of the unfaithful servant who because of fear and a bad attitude towards the Nobleman, wraps his pound in a cloth and hides it and, of course, earns no gain on it. He has no love or concern for the Nobleman; but defames him as an austere, harsh, ungracious Master. He hates and despises the Nobleman.
Is he a picture of a Christian? I don’t know. It doesn’t say. Perhaps Jesus is describing such people in His warning in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone that saith unto Me, ‘Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of God. Many will say unto Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name and in Thy name cast out devils and in Thy name done many wonderful works?’ Then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”
Perhaps he is a type of the carnal Christian who ignored God’s will for his life and lived a selfish, wasted life. He is described in I Corinthians 3:11-15 as one who is saved so as by fire. But all his works and service is burned up as worthless.
THE CITIZENS WHO HATED HIM
Who are His citizens? Everyone in the world. Understand that even though you are a lost sinner and even though you reject Christ as your Saviour and Lord, He still owns you. Regardless of your religion, if you reject Christ and want nothing to do with Him, He still owns you. He owns you because you are His by creation; even though you reject Him and disown Him.
You hate Him without cause, as John 15:25 describes the enemies of Christ who hated Him without cause as He went to the cross to die for sinners. As the crowds who shouted out in defiance, ” We have no king, but Caesar!” so His enemies today defiantly shout as the citizens in our story, “We will not have this man rule over us!”
By the way, have you ever noticed how public figures who express their love and devotion to Christ are hated and reviled. It has nothing to do with politics. The hatred goes far beyond political disagreement. It is the kind of hatred that froths at the mouth. It all boils down to hatred of Jesus which is poured out on those who belong to Him and stand publicly for Him.
Nevertheless, Jesus is coming back again to reign. Then every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is coming back again to rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is returning, not only to reign, but as Judge to pass judgment on all sinners whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He is coming back again as executioner to confine His enemies to eternity in Hell Fire, along with the devil and the anti-Christ and his false prophet. You can read that dreadful news in Revelation 20:11-15
As Luke 19:22-27 states, Jesus’ enemies will be judged by their own words and deeds. Many of his enemies are people who today claim to be Christians and servants of God and are involved in their churches. When Christ returns to judge, they will be stripped bare and exposed as phonies. Read that warning again in Matthew 7:21-23.
Are you His faithful servant, using the gifts and talents He gave you for His glory, or are you an unfaithful servant who will lose all rewards when Christ returns?
Are you a true citizen of Heaven, or are you an enemy of Christ and rejecting Him as Saviour and Lord? I challenge you and urge you today to trust Him as your Saviour from sin and then bow before Him as your Lord and King. Trust Him now and bow before Him now and one day you will hear Him say of you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”