Luke 19:11-27: As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Trade with these till I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.’ (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) ‘I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.'”
I included v.11 in this because I feel it is an important transitional passage into this parable. The impetus for this parable was that they were drawing near to Jerusalem, and everyone felt that this is when Jesus was going to claim his throne as the rightful King of Jerusalem (the nobleman in our little tale), both those who supported him, as well as those plotting for his demise. This parable is not at all about money, but about the coming of God’s Kingdom, and how God will judge humanity. Surprised?
Jesus starts telling us about a nobleman who is going away to receive a kingdom, what’s that about? Well, in the day in order to be declared the ruler over a Roman territory you had to appear before Caesar, at that time you would provide at least two witnesses to your worthiness, and anyone opposing your promotion would also be able to provide witness testimony as to your unfitness to receive the authority. Here he tell us that the citizens hated him and were going to the authorities to protest his appointment. Sound like the same group who went to Pilate?
The nobleman (Jesus) calls his faithful servants (Baptized Christians) and gives each the same gift- freedom from sin and death, and the good news of salvation – and the charge to take this gift and make it grow. This growth is a personal growth in Christ, not a growing of the church itself. From when you received your gift through Baptism, how has it grown in you? What have you done with it? This is like the mustard seed, or the leaven for the bread, a little goes a long way, if you take care of it, nurture it, and let it grow. If not, then it withers, dies, and rots away.
At the end of the parable the nobleman returns and asks each of his servants how he has fared with the money. For some it has grown massively, yielding many times what was given to them; for some it grew as well, just not as much, but it was still found pleasing to their lord. But, there are those who have done nothing with the gift, they received it in joy, but then assumed that was good enough, so when the lord returned they had nothing to show.
It is the same with us, for many (the Saints) they returned many times what they received, I would recommend reading the story of Seraphim of Sarov as an example of such devotion. To others, like many of us, we have grown in our faith through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, so that when our Lord returns we may show that we have multiplied what he gave us, and have much to return to Him.
Then there are those whose faith has done little from the time of receiving His gift. Maybe they go to church, but it is just out of obligation, not a true desire to be there; or, maybe they wear their faith on their sleeves for everyone to see, but in private hide questionable lives. To them the pleasures and cares of the world are more important, preparing for that Sunday afternoon football game is more important than prayer time (whether in church or at home). Buying that new 54″ LCD TV means more than helping the widow in danger of losing her home, or the man on the street in need of a good meal. I can’t count the number of people I’ve seen in church looking at their watches, waiting for the sermon to be over so they can get on with their lives, yet they think nothing of spending three hours watching a baseball game, which will make their gift grow?
When our Lord returns, how will He see your gift?