Summary: A look at what Christ demands of us until he returns.
Jesus was going through Jericho on his last journey to Jerusalem. When he finally arrives, he will receive the welcome of a king as he rides triumphantly into the city of David. Everyone’s expectations are high and they are anticipating the days in Jerusalem. They expect that Jesus will soon proclaim himself as the Messiah and that the Kingdom of God would come within a short period of time. So, while the people are gathered around listening to him, he tells them a story.
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.... But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don't want this man to be our king.’” Now, the people to whom Jesus was speaking were familiar with the procedure of a man going off to a distant country to be inaugurated as king. And sometimes the enemies of the man sent delegations asking that they not be appointed. William Barclay informs us of an actual case in point from history: “When Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. he left his kingdom divided between Herod Antipas, Herod Philip and Archelaus. That division had to be ratified by the Romans, who were the overlords of Palestine, before it became effective. Archelaus, to whom Judea had been left, went to Rome to persuade Augustus to allow him to enter into his inheritance, whereupon the Jews sent an embassy of fifty men to Rome to inform Augustus that they did not wish to have him as king. In point of fact, Augustus confirmed him in his inheritance, though without the actual title of king.” In the time of Jesus, Rome ruled the world, and no one became a king without first going to Rome. Herod and Archelaus had both followed this procedure. When they returned, they would be invested with the power and authority due them as king, and a military regiment would accompany them.
But while Jesus is using a contemporary example in his story, he is not speaking about Archelaus or Herod, he is speaking of himself. He was giving the people a message that he was not going to Jerusalem to set up his kingdom. He was soon going to a distant country to be appointed King. In fact, he would be leaving the earth and it would be a long time until he returned. But he would return one day, fully invested with the authority as King over all the earth. He would receive this authority after going to his heavenly Father. And when he returns all the armies of heaven will accompany him. His enemies, who do not want him to rule over them have declared their resistance to his kingdom, but he is appointed King in spite of their protests and will take care of them at his return.
We live in the blessed hope of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth as King at his second coming, but what about the in-between time? That is where the rest of the parable comes in. Jesus said that this man, “called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’” Each servant was given one mina. A mina was about the equivalent of three months wages in that day. It was not a great amount of money, but it was enough to do business with until the man returned. What we notice is that each of the servants receives exactly the same amount of money and have the same opportunity to do something productive with it. They are instructed to “put this money to work.” They realize that the owner wants them to be busy in his absence. He wants them interested in and investing in his kingdom while he is gone.
The day finally arrives when the man returns, and in spite of his enemies’ objections he was made king. Upon his arrival he sends for his servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what they had gained with what he had given them. The first servant appears before him and says, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” The King is exuberant: “Well done, my good servant! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” Quite a reward for the good use of one mina!
The second servant arrives and says, “Sir, your mina has earned five more.” This servant is also given a reward for what he has done. The gain of five minas on his investment of one mina has earned him five cities. These two men keep the money initially given, the money they earned, and on top of that are given a share of the kingdom. They will rule with this king as he shares with them his kingdom.