Monday, February 16, 2009

What will happen when the King Returns

“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 for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, (pounds) and said to them; engage in business until I come. But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, we do not want this man to reign over us. When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, Lord, your mina has made ten minas 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 mina has made five minas. And he said to him, and you are to be over five cities. Then another came, saying, Lord here is your mina, which I kept lay away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow. He said to him, I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was as severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest. And he said to those who stood by, take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas. And they said to him, Lord he has ten minas! I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one 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 slaughter them before me” (Luke 19:11-17). The setting of this account takes place after Archeiaus, son of Herod the Great became Tetrach of Judah and Samaria. As Jesus and His followers neared Jerusalem, rumors began to circulate. Some were whispering “He plans to overthrow Rome.” It was to silence these dangerous ideas that the Lord gave this parable. He would one day establish His kingdom, but He would first have to go away. You and I are living in the time period between the King’s ascension and His return, and He has given us a job to do. We do not know when He shall return, but we know that when He does He will deal with three kinds of persons found in this parable. He will deal with the faithful servants, the unfaithful servant, and the rebellious citizens. First, note the faithful servants (19:15-19). This parable is about service, not salvation. We know three facts about the faithful servants. They knew their responsibility (v. 13). Jesus said “do business until I come.” This was the nobleman’s commandment. Each servant had the same amount of money. The pound or mina represents the gospel message. This is not the parable of the talents. Each believer individually has the great responsibility of “doing business” with the gospel. Paul often referred to the “stewardship of the gospel.” We must invest it so that it will save many. They did their job faithfully. The nobleman did not promise his servants anything. He simply told them to get busy. They could have given many excuses. “This is not a great sum of money. Why worry about trying to put it to work.” “What will I get out of it?” Jesus has given us many promises. “How do I know he will ever come back?” “How do we know that Caesar will grant Him the kingdom?” God will grant Christ the kingdom because Jesus is King. The faithful servants were rewarded for their faithfulness. The reward for work is more work. The work we do today is preparation for the work He has planned tomorrow. Faithfulness is the secret of growth. If we faithfully use the “little” that He gives us, He will give us more (v. 17). What we do not use, we may very well lose. David was faithful to take care of his fathers’ sheep, in time God entrusted him with a nation. Joshua was a faithful servant, God made him Moses’ successor. Timothy assisted Paul in his ministry and in a few years was called to take Paul’s place in the churches. Second, let's consider the unfaithful servant (19:20-26). He knew his job but did not do his job (v. 20). He wrapped the money in a cloth that was traditionally used for wiping perspiration. We must realize unfaithfulness is sin. The greatest ability is dependability. He was unfaithful because his heart was not right with his master. He believed his Master was coming back, but he did not live what he believed. He did not love, but rather feared the master (v. 21). Love for Christ will not paralyze, but rather mobilize us. To say our Lord is austere (stern, harsh) is to lie. This man was so afraid of life he would take no risks. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is “meek and humble in heart.” His unfaithfulness cost him his reward. The master used the man’s own words to indict him. If you really believed these things you should have worked harder. An excuse is the skin of reason stuffed with a lie. People who are good at excuses are rarely good at anything else. What did the servant lose? He lost his opportunity. The future is today. What we do with today determines what will be done with tomorrow. He lost his pound. His pound was given to the servant who proved he could be trusted. He lost his reward. This man could not be trusted with any additional work. He had not been faithful over a few things, so the master could not make him ruler over many things. Third, note the rebellious citizens (19:14, 27). Jesus did not come to change Israel’s politics; He came to change men’s hearts. He presented Himself as a humble King, not a violent conqueror. When He returns He will punish those who have not bowed before Him. This world belongs to God, and the people in the world are citizens who must depend on God, whether they know it or not. The Word tells us “He gives to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25-26). Jesus gave His life for His enemies. This is not a day of judgment, it is a day of grace, and any rebellious citizen can be saved. There are three kinds of people. Let's look again at the faithful servants who do well, the unfaithful servants who do nothing, and the rebellious citizens who do evil. Which group are you in: the faithful, the unfaithful, or the rebellious? Are you investing the gospel so that it is producing dividends in your life? Do you live in the light of Christ’s soon return? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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