Thursday, February 13, 2014
The Vision (2.13.14): Three Purposes for the Parable of the Pounds (Luke 19:11-27)
Note: Last Sunday I preached on the Parable of the Pounds (Minas) from Luke 19:11-27. Here are my notes from the sermon’s conclusion in which I drew three applications or purposes for the parable:
“And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11).
1. Jesus clarifies for his disciples the timing and the nature of the kingdom that he is bringing about.
Timing: Jesus was teaching that his kingdom would not come immediately. Jesus still resists those who try to set up timetables and predictions of his coming. As Jesus told his disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7).
As Peter said to the scoffers of his day, the Lord is not “slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Nature: And he was teaching that his kingdom was not going to be built by seizing the crown from Caesar but by going to the cross. He was teaching that the kingdom would be built heart by heart, life by life till the time when Christ comes in glory (cf. Luke 17:20).
2. Jesus teaches us of the vital importance of being faithful and fruitful disciples in this age.
We are the douloi (servants) of this parable. God has given equally to us the gift of salvation (even as he gave to each servant in the parable ten pounds). He has given equal duties of being faithful and wise in the stewardship of our lives.
Some will be able to be highly fruitful and others less but still significantly so. This parable is given to motivate us not to be like the unprofitable third servant of the parable. We are not to presume ill of the character of God and be so paralyzed with fear or intimidation that we never “traffic” with the good deposit that has been given to us.
So, we can ask the basic questions:
How am I using my life for Christ? My vocation? My family? My time?
I saw a news item the other day which noted more people read Facebook than read the Bible. What has captured more of my interest? Christ or the world?
This parable tells us that for believers there will be a time of reckoning. Now, this is a parable, and so it should not be interpreted rigidly. I think we are being motivated by warning. The third servant does not have his salvation taken away, but he is called a “wicked servant” (v. 22). He is not given the reward of greater responsibility.
There is an ongoing debate about “rewards” in heaven. I am not sure what this parable contributes to that discussion. In this parable, men who were faithful with relatively small investments (the pound) and who give astounding returns (though still relatively modest in amount) are given responsibilities out of all proportion to their faithfulness. They are given to rule over 10 or 5 cities! Compare this with teaching elsewhere in the NT:
Luke 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
1 Corinthians 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Will there be spiritual responsibilities given in the kingdom to believers based on their faithfulness and fruitfulness in stewardship here on earth?
And what of the opposite? Will there be shame for saints who were not faithful and fruitful? Jude speaks of those who are saved “with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (v. 23).
I do not know the answer to the question of “rewards.” Personally, I do not know how there could possibly be degrees of joy in heaven or what more could be added to being with Christ. I also do not think it is wise to wander into vain speculation on this topic.
What we are to get from this parable is simply the motivation to be a faithful servant who will hear the praise of his master and not a wicked servant who will hear the disappointment of his master when the kingdom comes.
3. Jesus warns about the consequences that will result for those who reject his Lordship.
This is the most unpleasant part of this parable. It is the description of the fate of those citizens (politai) who hate the king and who declare that they will not have this man to reign over them (v. 14). The end for them when the king returns will be a quick and certain death (v. 27).
So will be the end for those who persist in their hatred and rejection of Christ. Unlike the parable, however, it will not be merely a physical death but the second death, a spiritual death.
The Scottish preacher Robert Murray M’Cheyne said that when we preach on hell we should only do so through tears. I think Jesus told this parable with watery eyes. It is told not to revel in punishment but that it might be the means of awakening the spiritually dead.
Consider the words of the prophet Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
May the Lord find us to be faithful and fruitful servants.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle