This is not the prettiest of parables, as it is a very painful one to read.
Before we read the story, we need to consider the situation in life that this story illustrated.
Whereas the other parables fit generic situations, this story actually was modeled from real events.
After Herod the Great died, his kingdom was divided among his sons. One son, Herod Archelaus, was so hated, and when he went to Rome to be made “king,” the people in his realm set a delegation to try and prevent his investiture.
This is because he was a cruel man who had slaughtered many while they were sacrificing to God in the Temple.
This delegation was unsuccessful at preventing Herod Archelaus from being given a kingdom. Later, he enacted his revenge on them for this.
So, with this story in the minds of the audience, let us listen to the parable that Jesus told.
In fact, Herod Archelaus’ family and friends even raided his treasury while he was away, because they didn’t think he would return.
As well, I want to explain what a mina was:
a “mina” was equal to about 3 months wages at that time. So it was not a small sum of money, yet not a fortune.
So let’s read the parable:
11 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.’”
How do you pray after a Scripture like that?
Why did Jesus speak this parable?
11 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.
After this parable, Jesus was going to enter Jerusalem, and people would see him enter as the fulfillment of prophecy, and they would think that Jesus was going to establish a physical kingdom at that moment.
It is not hard to imagine that these people thought such.
But, Jesus was not going to do that, instead, he was going to die…and be raised from the dead.
He knew that some would scatter and turn away in the shadow of his arrest and his death.
I believe, in part, this parable was spoken to encourage his followers that they should remain faithful, even if he dies on a cross.
Jesus, too, would be going away…first for three days, but then being resurrected….but then, after 40 days in his resurrected body, he would depart for heaven, and has not yet returned.
Would his followers continue to believe in him, or would they be like the wicked servant?
It can be human nature to give up if the future doesn’t seem good.
But we need to remember that God is Lord over the future as well as over the past.
CHRISTIANS WITH THEIR EYES ON THE WRONG GOALS
When I first came to Almaty about 15 years ago, I began to preach that as believers we need to be willing to believe God no matter what the circumstance.
While I would meet people who were seeking riches through the Church, rather than seeking Jesus, it made me sad.
And I have seen people who turn away from Jesus because their actual future did not line up with what they had hoped to receive.
PEOPLE WHO GIVE UP AND WAIT FOR JESUS’ RETURN
In the history of the church, some people have been convinced that the end of the world was coming, and they would give up.
They would stop working.
I meet people from time to time who are so depressed that all they want is for Jesus to come back, because they are in misery.
I think such people are like the servant who hid his mina in the ground.
IN THE MOVIES
In movies when people think that the end is coming, they panic, cry, get drunk, etc.
MARTIN LUTHER’S EXAMPLE
But, I like what Martin Luther said about what to do if it is all about to end:
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Jesus, in his teaching about the end of times, on at least two occasions said that
…but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:22; 24:13
Jesus knew what people are like when they lose hope in the future.
I remember once when I had thought that I had made the wrong decision about the future and found myself in a semi-panic.
I prayed and asked God to help me to meet my future, head on.
I went to sleep and awoke the next morning with a supernatural gifting of joy about the future, and understanding that God was with me.
Fear makes us run away from the future,
but we need to move forward with the future, and be ready.
In the story, the wicked servant was the one who thought that the king would not return, perhaps, because, a delegation had gone before him, to try to stop him.
And if the king was not coming, then there was no need to follow the king’s orders.
In fact, if the servant had given the mina to the bankers, but the master was not made king, then he could lose the money.
This parable is similar to another parable in the Gospel of Matthew: “The Parable of the Talents.”
This parable is even better known, it seems.
While there are some similarities, there are some differences, too.
Differences: The money
Mina=100 Drachma (Drachma was a day’s wage)…so three months’ wages
Talent= Mina X 60 … so 16 years’ wages
Differences: The number of servants
Parable of the Minas = 10
Parable of the Talents = 3
Mainly, the biggest difference is that in the parable of the talents, the servants are given different quantities, and yet, there is still one servant who does nothing with the talent (a talent was worth perhaps 16 years worth of wages….and from this story, we get our word, “talent” to refer to God- given abilities).
But in today’s parable of the 10 Minas, not only are there 10 servants, but each is given the same amount of money (worth several hundred dollars)…all servants start off the same, but some show themselves able to make a greater return than others…and yet, still, there is a servant who does nothing with the mina.
In the parable of the talents, each servant is entrusted with different amounts…and we need to accept this and move on.
In the parable of the Ten Minas, we see that everyone is given the same amount…and some will do more with life or with faith than others, but we have received the same gift, have we not.
And it seems that those who HAVE faith, grow in faith
And the one who does NOT HAVE faith, loses even more.
Each had a wicked servant who hid the money
In each, the hidden money was given to the most successful servant
In each story, the unfaithful servant’s 1 item (be it a “talent” or a “mina”) is taken away, and given to the servant with the greatest quantity.
And in both stories the “boss” says, “
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.
28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
He who has nothing will lose even what he has
He who has will be given more
It sounds like an interesting economic principle
Let’s consider what the servant did, by hiding the mina:
Actions of the Wicked Servant
1.Disobedient: to his master -Misunderstood his master…His master gave clear guidelines, but he didn’t follow them
2. Distrust..master would return.. decided to trust in himself…
thought he was helping himself. Didn’t help himself like he might have thought…
perhaps he didn’t invest the money because of the delegation that tried to block his master from being made king…
had he invested it, according to the economy of his master, and then his master was not made king, it would have been lost…
he thought he was helping himself He thought he could trust in himself!
3.Disrespect: He didn’t recognize the sovereignty of his master…when we visit London, people like to go to Buckingham Palace and see the guards.
They like to go to a guard and try to make him smile or something.
A friend told me that he was watching a tourist make faces and say silly things to the guard…the guard said nothing…but when the tourist tried to get directly behind the guard, the guard moved and pointed his gun at the tourist and told him to step aside….
Are we like this servant?
1. disobedient to God? -Misunderstanding God…I heard it put this way, the “Ten Commandments” were not called “Ten Suggestions.”
2. Distrust…we tried trusting God with our future, but He didn’t come through as we liked, so we put our trust in ourselves or in someone else…Not really helping ourselves in the long- run…are we thinking of our immediate need and not considering our long- term needs?
3.Disrespecting God: Are we failing to recognize the sovereignty of God in our lives? We belong to God, not to ourselves, ultimately…not to our families, not to our companies, not to our schools, not to our desires
Clearly, we don’t want to be like the Wicked Servant,
But how can we apply this to our lives, today?
Make the most of what you have! Don’t give up
- Don’t disobey
- God Don’t distrust God
- Don’t disrespect God
Let’s make this more positive:
Application of the Parable of the Ten Minas:
Make the most of what you have!
- Continue in Faith
- Obey God
- Trust God
- Respect God
TRUST GOD–ENTRUST GOD
In fact, we need to Entrust our lives to God
The servant probably didn’t think his master was returning.
Sometimes it seems that God is not around, and we become discouraged
Some stop trusting in Him and they trust in themselves, only
MAKE USE OF OUR FAITH
Let us invest in our faith! I want to discuss this principle.
We know that there is a principle that seems to scream at us at times,
“If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
We see this in language…if we learn a language, but fail to use it, we lose it…
We see this in body building…if we don’t keep up our exercises, we lose our physique.
We see it in musical abilities…”practice makes perfect” we say,
and if we don’t practice, we don’t do as well…and may even give up
As I am about to leave this position of ministry, I want to ask us to apply this to our spiritual lives.
I realize that within this room we have various different theological views of the assurance of salvation.
I am not here to talk about predestination or freewill. I would rather encourage us to remember that relating to our faith, if we don’t use it, we lose it.
I’m talking about the faith to be successful as believers…the faith to stand strong against Satan and his allies…the faith that continues to trust and believe until the end.
As a couple weeks ago, we looked at the parable of the persistent widow, we saw that the persistence was to pray until the end…until salvation is visible.
Jesus wondered if there would still be believers when he returned.
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
And so I ask, are we Investing in our faith, so that we will remain believing and on task either until the day we die or until Jesus returns?
Each one of us has been given the same gift of eternal life.
The Holy Spirit works with each of us. We have the same Bible.
We have the same baptism. We hold to the same creed.
But how will we finish?
My prayer is that we will finish well! That we will glorify God with our lives.
HOW CAN WE INVEST WHAT HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO US?
2. Take the Right Risks
3. Trust in God
How can we invest what has been entrusted to us?
1. Prayer….Prayer is a simple thing to discuss, but a hard thing to actually do, and continue to do consistently.
Even Mother Theresa had trouble praying.
But in prayer, we have fellowship with God.
People have asked me to write out prayers for them or to give them a book of prayers, and this is something that I rarely do.
Prayer from the heart is a spiritual practice.
I listened to a sermon that was preached this past week in Phoenix, AZ and the preacher is a very talented young man who is in his mid 30s and comes from a long line of successful Pentecostal preachers.
He became pastor of a church in the inner city of Los Angeles over 15 years ago. Now, if you don’t know what I mean by inner city, I mean the criminal infested part with lots of poverty. Los Angeles is one of the wealthiest cities in the US and yet, some of the greatest amount of poverty in that nation is in that city.
This preacher, his name is Matthew, said that his first day at the church a young man was killed on the steps of the church by a rival gang.
He had to walk around the body to get into the church.
His congregation was small at that moment, but they took up a small offering and asked the pastor to give it to the grieving mother of the deceased young
man…she was in the house across from the church.
The young pastor went there, and was scared to death. Members of the dead boy’s gang were all gathered in that house. The young preacher wanted to leave as soon as he could.
He went in and gave the small gift to the mother, and then walked toward the door.
One of the tough gang members asked, “Padre, aren’t you going to pray for this family?”
So Matthew turned around and gathered everyone together and prayed.
They were holding hands and he prayed a simple, memorized prayer, but sensed God speaking to him, saying, “pray from your heart.”
Letting go of his fear, Matthew began to pray, and he prayed a very powerful prayer. He even said in the prayer, “let these tough young men know that they really need your strength, and that they are not tough enough.”
Matthew said the gang members who were holding his hands both squeezed his hands very tightly at this point.
Then Matthew did what he had never expected to do…he asked who in that room wanted to turn from their sins and receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and each one of those young gang members repented that day.
And now he has a church full of ex-gang members, ex- prostitutes, ex-pimps!
That happened because this young pastor prayed.
(the pastor is Matthew Barnett, Pastor of the Los Angeles Dream Center)
What in our lives could be happening, but ISN’T,
because we are not praying?
I say, “Keep praying.”
When Jesus was suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed…
and He was God in the Flesh.
There is something necessary about prayer, so that we can continue until the end.
He asked his disciples to pray, but they fell asleep. He awoke them and said,
40 “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
And many of us know what it is like to fall asleep when we should be praying.
Our bodies are weak, and our spirits should be willing.
As Paul wrote,
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
As well, he wrote this:
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Prayer will build us up, as we fellowship with God.
My wife and I realize that if we don’t have communication, our relationship is not strengthened, but can even weaken.
So, a Christian who doesn’t pray will soon not look like a Christian at all.
2. Take the Right Risks
Be a risk taker…I mean regarding faith
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
Matthew 10:32, 33
The Christian life is not an easy life…
there are many who want us to disown Jesus, to acknowledge him as less than he is.
There is a tendency in America to refer to Jesus as a “great teacher,” yet those who do this most likely have hardly ever looked at his teaching.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
These words are very strong,
and in order to believe them, we must be willing to risk.
- We may lose friends
- We may miss out on riches
- We may lose comfort
- We may lose family
All because we took the risk to believe
All because we believe that our Master, Jesus, IS coming back one day!
And if we say we believe, that means we must live like we believe.
As you know, we have plans to plant a church.
I’ve been in communication with people from my organization who are already in the country that we are moving to.
I’ve asked them to prayerfully consider what I need to know about our new place of ministry and our plans.
One friend wrote:
We hope and pray that this international church plant won’t become a club for expats
Excerpt from a Colleagueʼs Email
And I must agree
I sometimes wonder if for some of us, ICF is nothing more than a club … we are not serious about our faith.
This is dangerous if we live like this, but I must confess, that if we see this, and do nothing about it, we are also guilty.
Let us be serious about our faith in Jesus and take risks….
whether it means the risk of losing friends, family and funding because we believe and choose to continue to believe…
or if it is the risk to go to believers and tell them, in love, that we believe they are not being serious in their faith, and may be in danger of either falling, or influencing others to fall.
Let’s take risks, the right risks.
The characters in the story took risks….
The audience who heard Jesus tell the parable knew that
When the servants put the mina on deposit there were NO guarantees …and they could have lost that money
Perhaps it requires some wisdom, research and common sense…
But NOT blind faith.
And to remain a believer in Jesus until the end does not require
“blind faith” but it requires faith in Him who healed the blind!
It requires real faith
How does one get real faith?
Believe the Bible
If something isn’t easily believable, then research it.
Understand the context of what is written
Look at the character of the writers whom God used to write the Holy Scriptures.
Look at the story of what they were willing to sacrifice for the sake of the scriptures.
Some say, the Apostles did the following:
a-They were mistaken….is that true, that they could have been mistaken … all of them, and after Jesus’ death, they grew…and even the one who was persecuting them to the death, Paul, encountered the risen Jesus and repented.
It is hard to believe that they were mistaken.
b-some say they lied…that they changed the truth to fit their plan…It’s easy to say someone changed the Scriptures, but very hard to prove it.
There are so many ancient copies of the Scriptures, and they all agree (there may be an error in spelling, or a word left out or even repeated occasionally, but that was because they had to write it my hand.
And when we look at a Bible today, we need to understand that it is not only the Word of God for Man today, yesterday and forever, but it has been tested, it has been weighed, it has been analyzed more than any other book, as more people have tried to discredit the Bible more than any other book in history.
real faith not blind in the one who healed the blind, not blind faith
3. Trust in God
The servants who used their master’s money were successful
And their master came back and gave them more responsibility
If this parable is supposed to teach us something about heaven, then it is saying that in heaven we won’t be sitting on a cloud, but we will be serving God with even greater responsibility than we had on earth.
But we need to trust God, now.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5, 6
Our own understanding can be good, but in the case of the wicked servant, it was disasterous…
We need to trust God And not ourselves
We need to Acknowledge Him in everything
And if we do, He promises to straighten our paths…
As David said,
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake
As we trust God, there are several Scriptures that come to mind, but this one speaks to our generation, I believe:
11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him, 12 we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, 13 he will also disown us;
if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
2 Timothy 2:11-13
God is so trustworthy, that even if we turn away, He will remain faithful.
But, my prayer, is that we would remain faithful, and one day we would hear Jesus say these words to us:
“‘Well done, my good servant!’ Luke 19:17
I am not talking about doing works in order to be saved, but what I am talking about is using what we have and trusting God no matter what.
And we honor God when we do this.
We live in a land….some of us for only 2 more weeks, that needs to see Jesus
And for many people the only Jesus they will ever see is the Jesus that you and I reflect in our lives…as we use what has been entrusted to us
Is this fair for the people around us?
Let’s reflect Jesus, daily, intentionally, and beautifully!