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Summary: We are responsible for how we administer what God entrusts to us.

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“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, 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 laid 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 a 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.”’” [1]

You will have noticed whenever you are reading any of the parables Jesus told, the author customarily uses a literary device to transfer the reader’s attention smoothly from the events swirling about Jesus to the parable itself. This is the case here. The text reads, “As they heard these things.” The words serve to segue into instruction vital to our spiritual well-being. In other words, the Spirit of God believes it important for our understanding to be aware of what was happening when Jesus told this parable. We need to take a moment to remember the events precipitating the relating of the story.

The first ten verses of this chapter tell the story of the conversion of Zacchaeus. He was changed from a self-centred, money-grubbing rascal to a redeemed disciple of Jesus. The salvation of this man was not accompanied without grumbling from the religious leadership of the day. They thought that people whom they loathed had no right to salvation, or even to be treated with courtesy. People often argue that those whom they detest deserve the hottest place in hell. Such sentiments are commonly expressed; however, I would say that each of us deserves the hottest place in hell. Salvation has nothing to do with who we are or even with what we have done or not done. Salvation flows from the mercy of God and is a revelation of His grace.

The evidence that Zacchaeus was changed into a new man was revealed through his view of his possessions after conversion. Listen to him after he has believed Jesus. “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold” [LUKE 19:8]. He wanted a clean start in life and he realised that he was responsible to administer wisely all he held; he especially realised that he could no longer continue to hold onto goods obtained through fraud or deceit.

That brings us back to the text, which begins, “as they heard these things.” The people walking with and surrounding the Master witnessed the change in this man, and since “they were near Jerusalem” and “because they supposed that the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately,” Jesus seized the moment to instruct them in a great truth.

Jesus had identified his mission—“to seek and to save the lost” [LUKE 19:10]. The people, including, perhaps, even those who were truly disciples, took note that He was near Jerusalem. The general anticipation of the nation was that Messiah would bring political salvation. Therefore, the natural assumption was that He was about to overthrow the Roman occupation and reinstate the Davidic Kingdom. Jesus knew the error of the people’s thinking and He immediately addressed their misunderstanding of His mission. He corrected their error by relating a parable.

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