Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 19: 11-27 (MsgB)
While He (Jesus) had their attention, and because they were getting close to Jerusalem by this time and expectation was building that God’s Kingdom would appear any minute, He told this story: “There was once a man descended from a royal house who needed to make a long trip back to headquarters to get authorization for his rule and then return. But first he called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, ‘Operate with this until I return.’ But the citizens there hated him. So they sent a commission with a signed petition to oppose his rule: ‘We don’t want this man to rule us.’ When he came back bringing the authorization of his rule, he called those ten servants to whom he had given the money to find out how they had done. The first said, ‘Master, I doubled your money.’ He said, ‘Good servant! Great work! Because you’ve been trustworthy in this small job, I’m making you governor of ten towns.’ The second said, ‘Master, I made a fifty percent profit on your money.’ He said, ‘I’m putting you in charge of five towns.’ The next servant said, ‘Master, here’s your money safe and sound. I kept it hidden in the cellar. To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid. I know you have high standards and hate sloppiness, and don’t suffer fools gladly.’ He said, ‘You’re right that I don’t suffer fools gladly—and you’ve acted the fool! Why didn’t you at least invest the money in securities so I would have gotten a little interest on it?’ Then he said to those standing there, ‘Take the money from him and give it to the servant who doubled my stake.’ “They said, ‘But Master, he already has double…’ He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag. As for these enemies of mine who petitioned against my rule, clear them out of here. I don’t want to see their faces around here again.’ “
Luke spells it out very clearly for us here. Jesus tells His parable about the ten servants and the manner in which they invest their king’s money in order to clearly address everyone’s incorrect expectations surrounding the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom and Jesus’ upcoming visit to Jerusalem.
While this parable has been used, and rightfully so, by the church to teach good solid stewardship principles, I think it important here that we discuss the deeper truth that Jesus is trying to address with His listeners.
As we’ve discussed earlier in our blog, there is a huge discrepancy in the way those around Jesus perceive His earthly ministry. No one, for example, foresees Jesus going to Jerusalem and dying on a cross. Every one of His disciples and the growing crowd surrounding His ministry believes they are attaching themselves to the imminent appearance of God’s Messiah. As the powerful Son of Man, ruling agent of the Creator-King, Jesus will enter Jerusalem, fully reveal His Kingship, defeat all of Israel’s enemies, throw out all injustice in the religious system of the day, and usher in the highly-anticipated ‘Day of the Lord.’ The long-awaited promise God’s people had been expecting for centuries is about to appear!
As Luke clearly indicates here, Jesus sees that His friends are missing the point, and quite honestly, if you or I would have been living then, we would have done the exact same thing.
But as the saying goes, hindsight has perfect 20/20 vision.
We followers of Jesus, who now have the distinct vantage point of looking back at this volatile time in Hebrew history, now can see how Jesus’ three-year ministry was just the beginning of a larger God-event; not the end.
Jesus’ first visit to earth is an inauguration, not a consummation. An in-breaking thrust of God’s Kingdom, identifying and destroying the powerful stronghold Satan once had on this planet. While Jesus’ ministry didn’t usher in the long-awaited ‘Last Day’ of the Lord, it did accomplish exactly what God intended it to do.
As Jesus states on the Cross, “It is finished!” And when Jesus proclaims this powerful statement, He is referring to the completion of God’s initial work of salvation, a powerful in-breaking move of God’s Kingdom that changes everything down here on planet earth. As we’ve discussed earlier, Jesus’ initial visit to our planet actually begins God’s ‘last days,’ where our Loving Creator ushers in His massive, pro-active sweep across the globe, rescuing and redeeming not only Jews, but men, women, and children from every tribe, nation, and tongue.
And this redeeming work of reconciliation, which God initiates through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, will continue forcefully across the planet, driven by the power of the Holy Spirit, until such a time, unknown by all but God, when Jesus, who now sits at the right hand of God, the Father, will stand up, assemble all the forces of heaven and return to planet earth, ushering in the final consummation of all of God’s Kingdom promises! At that point in time, every human being who has ever lived on earth, every created being, both angelic and demonic, will bow their knees to the Holy Trinity of God. At that point in time, the day the Jews in Jesus’ day expected to see, will appear forcefully, revealing to all of us the final consummation of God’s Kingdom; the day Jesus’ friends expected to see back in 33 AD as they made their way into Jerusalem.
So now that we better appreciate the context of Jesus’ parable, we can now begin to talk good stewardship principles. In this story about ten servants who are given money by the ruler’s representative and told to wisely invest their money in the land where they were appointed to live, we now need to realize that this is exactly the situation you and I are in as we live in this unique season of time between the times. The days between the first coming of the ruler’s representative and the day of his return. And as Jesus so graphically points out in His story, this piece of turf where we live is not a very receptive place to the rule and reign of the ruler and his chosen representative.
No wonder some of us feel so intimidated…so overwhelmed…so held back! We have been chosen by a good ruler’s representative (Jesus) to stay on site here on the land the ruler (God) owns. The rep has gone away for a while and has left us ‘in charge’. He’s given us a stash of his Kingdom currency so that we can invest wisely in our work, doing our very best to use his generous gifts in taking ground for the master until he returns. It’s obvious that there are some of the ten servants who take the advice of their master and work the project at hand. Oh yes, there is push-back and hard times as these servants try to advance the ruler’s cause in a hard and non-receptive situation, but apparently, the authority that has been granted us will make a way for us, even when the going gets tough.
Then Jesus says there is at least one servant who is so afraid, so overwhelmed by the difficulty of the assignment that he decides the best thing to do is to hide the ruler’s money in his cellar, hunkering down inside his house, and praying for the master to return. Jesus tells us that this type of attitude will not fly in the household of God.
Unfortunately, Jesus’ parable never addresses the other seven servants. We only hear about three of the guys. One doubled the money. One pulled in a good return of 50%. But one hid the money away and got nothing in return. Makes me wonder what the other seven guys did. But I guess we may not need to fret too long about that. Here we are two thousand years along the pathway of Jesus’ story. We just might be getting to the ninth or tenth servant just about now.
By the way, how’s your Kingdom investment coming along?
My prayer: Jesus, I want to truly comprehend the context of Your amazing story about the ten servants. You’ve given me, as Your Kingdom ambassador, a stash of Kingdom coins. You’ve commanded me to invest those coins for Your purposes in this land You own. You are in heaven, making intercession for me while You are gone. Help me, Holy Spirit, to go out boldly with my coins, investing them for You while the time is ripe. For Your name’s sake.
My questions to ponder: What do my Kingdom investments look like? Am I willing to take a risk with God’s holy currency He has given me, investing His gifts in this land where not everyone appreciates Jesus’ cause? Am I holding back, playing it safe, hiding my talents and coins in the cellar? Is the difficult environment threatening me so much that I’m afraid to invest in this world?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?
Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!