Summary: A Study of Jesus’ Parable of the Minas
Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.—Luke 19:15
LABORING WITH THE GOSPEL (Part I)
Most people overlook this parable of Jesus as recorded by Luke because of its similarity to His parable of the talents, recorded in Matthew 25. But while the parables are simi-lar, there are significant differences. The purpose of this parable is found in verse 11 of the text: “While they were listening to this, He [Jesus] 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.”
The “this” referred to was Jesus’ announcement of the salvation of Zacchaeus, a tax collector who had been deemed too sinful to merit salvation by orthodox Judaism. As Jesus was passing through Jericho, Zacchaeus went out to see Him. Being a man of small physical stature, he climbed into a tree so that he could get a glimpse of the Master as He passed. But instead of simply passing by, Jesus stopped at the tree, looked up and called out to Zacchaeus. He invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house and dined there. While the people criticized Jesus’ actions, Zacchaeus made it clear that, because Jesus had come by, a change had taken place in his life. He announced that he was going to give half of all he possessed to the poor and then, with the other half, pay back 4 times what was owed of any man he had cheated in the past. And in response to Zacchaeus, Jesus declared that, “Salvation had come to this house…for the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Literally, Jesus was saying that the salvation of God was much greater in scope and power than had been described by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Things that they had deemed to be outside the realm of God’s willingness or ability to forgive, Jesus said God had forgiven. And that’s a good thing for us to remember today. There are things that man will not forgive, but I’m glad that my future doesn’t dependent on man’s for-giveness; there are mistakes that we can make that men will never let us live down, but I’m glad that Jesus is willing to look beyond my many faults and meet my every need. His love and forgiveness are on such a higher plane than our human plane of existence. But even though they are of infinitely higher quality than anything man can offer, they extend themselves from the highest place down to lowest depths where your sins and my sins reside, and they cleanse us of our unrighteousness. Is this not what Paul said of Jesus in Philippians 2, that, “being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Him-self and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.”
Church, it’s good to know that there is a name available to us that will free us of our sin—even those sins that man would have condemn us. It’s good to know that there is a salvation available to us—a deliverance from sin—that man can neither initiate nor prohibit, but it rests firmly and completely in the hands of the Lord. I’m glad that, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost”, because what was lost in-cludes me.
But to move on, Luke says that, as Jesus was speaking of Zacchaeus’ salvation, He proceeded to tell them a parable, and the reason for the parable was to correct an erroneous conclusion that the people had drawn. They thought that the salvation of Zacchaeus was a part of Jesus’ announcement that His kingdom was at hand. They thought that, upon His arrival in Jerusalem, He would overthrow the Roman regime that had oppressed them for so many years. And Jesus wanted them to know that they were wrong on at least 2 fronts—they were wrong to believe that His kingdom was of this world, and they wrong to believe that it was coming in its final stage any time soon. And so, to clarify His purpose and to give them insight as to what God truly expected of them, Jesus tells them this parable of a nobleman who travels to a far country.
Now, as we said, there are similarities between this parable and the one recorded in Matthew 25, but there are also some distinct differences. The emphasis of the parable in Matthew is stewardship, but the emphasis of this parable in Luke is to properly identify who Jesus is, clarify His role as the Messiah and ready the people for His coming kingdom.