Summary: Christianity Is A Serious Business 1) The gospel is every Christian’s tool and trade 2) Our heavenly employer expects results 3) Faithful workers will receive a reward of grace; the disobedient will be punished severely
The Major League Baseball season ended a month ago with the firing of a dozen managers and coaches. With the poor season the Edmonton Eskimos had this year and the tough one the Oilers are going through right now, one wonders how long before the head coaches of those teams get canned? Why are there so many firings in professional sports? Professional sport is a serious business, that’s why. If you win, you don’t just get a trophy, you receive millions of dollars. If you lose consistently, you forfeit more than pride; you lose your investment as ticket sales plummet. Since professional sport is a serious business, coaches and managers are expected to produce winning teams and if they don’t, they’ll be replaced.
Of course that’s not news to you. What may be news is that, according to Jesus, Christianity is a serious business. Through the Parable of the Ten Minas we learn that the gospel is every Christian’s tool and trade; our heavenly employer expects results; and faithful workers will receive a reward of grace while the disobedient will be punished severely.
Jesus told the Parable of the Ten Minas to a crowd of well-wishers as he began his march to Jerusalem from Zacchaeus’ house in Jericho. Many thought Jesus was going to the holy city to kick the Romans out and they wanted to be in on the excitement. Of course Jesus wasn’t going to Jerusalem to roughhouse the Romans. He was going there to open heaven’s door to all by dying on the cross and coming back to life. After that he would visibly, though not physically, leave this world until his reappearance on Judgment Day. To illustrate the truth that Judgment Day wasn’t going to happen immediately with his arrival into Jerusalem, and to teach us his followers what we are to be doing while we await his return, Jesus told the Parable of the Ten Minas.
In this parable a man of noble birth went away to be crowned king. Before he left, however, he called ten of his servants and gave them each one mina, roughly three months wages. He told the servants to put that money to work while he was gone. The nobleman was crowned king over the protests of the people from his home country and then he returned to see what his servants had done with his money.
It’s not difficult to see that the nobleman in the parable represents Jesus. He came into this world to become king, yet not everyone wants him as king. Those people in the parable represent outright unbelievers. What will happen to them? In the end they will be punished severely in the eternal fires of hell. But that’s not the part of the parable I want to focus on this morning. The fact that you are here in church probably means that you aren’t among those who say outright: “Jesus, I don’t want you as my king.”
But you are a character in this parable. You are among the servants to whom the master entrusted a mina. What does the mina represent? It could represent the money, time, and talents Jesus has given us. Jesus certainly had those things in mind when he told The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14 ff.) about a week later. The minas of this parable, however, best represent God’s Word (compare what Jesus says in Luke 19:26 with Luke 8:18). Jesus has entrusted that Word to each of us and we are to “do business” with it. There are two basic ways in which we do business with God’s Word: we share it with others, and we apply it to ourselves so that we produce fruits of faith, that is, good works to say thank you to Jesus for his forgiveness. How serious is our heavenly employer about each of us doing business with his Word? Let’s find out.
When the master in the parable returned he called his servants together to see what they had done with the minas. The master expected results and so does Jesus. Sharing the Word with others and applying it to ourselves so that we grow in Christian living isn’t something we do “if we have the time or interest.” It’s something we will do if we are true believers. So how did the servants in the parable fare? Well the first servant said: “Sir, your mina has earned ten more” (Luke 19:16a). This servant had been wildly successful with the mina entrusted to him. He had realized a return of a 1,000%! Yet did you hear the humility in the man’s words? He did not say: “Sir, look at what I did with your money.” but “Sir, your mina has earned ten more” (Luke 19:16a). A true believer, therefore, is not only active in sharing and applying God’s Word; he acknowledges that any “success” is a result of God’s blessing. Take Martin Luther, for example. Thanks to that monk’s faithfulness to the Word, churches all over the world (a return of a 1,000%?) now proclaim again the truth that we are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone. Yet in the spirit of the first servant Luther said: “I’ve done nothing. The Word did it all.”