Summary: This sermon, in expounding Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Minas, challenges us to faithful stewardship with the things God has given us ( time, resources, abilities) - are we using these things for ourselves or for the benefit of His kingdom?
The other day, while driving, I was listening to Family Radio. A sponsorship slot came on advertising a mortgage broker. This advertisement was advertising how if you refinanced your mortgage using their services, you’d be able to save thousands of dollars! That’s right, thousands of dollars! To make it more realistic, they had a husband and wife discussing what they could do with these thousands of dollars. I was intrigued – after all this was a Christian radio station! I was interested to hear what the couple were thinking of doing with all this money, that they would apparently have at their disposal if they used this mortgage broker.
Perhaps they would say things like, “let’s more give more money to the church”, or “let’s sponsor a child in a poor country” or “let’s support a school chaplain or a missionary”. Or perhaps they might say, “let’s cut back on hours at work and spend the extra time with the kids, or spend the time in some sort of ministry activity.” But no, they didn’t talk of those things. What they did mention were things like, “let’s extend the house”, “let’s go on an overseas trip,” “let’s build a patio,” and “let’s buy a new car.” Now I’m not saying that it’s necessarily wrong to do these last things – I certainly hope not as we’re going on an overseas trip soon! But as I heard these responses, I must say I was a little disappointed. You see, when this couple were discussing what to do with this money, they assumed it was theirs, to do with as they wanted. But was it really theirs, to do with as they wanted? All of us have been given not only money, but also time, resources and abilities. Are they really ours to do with just as we please?
Jesus once gave a parable about this very topic. Please turn with me to Luke chapter 19.
We are going to have a look at the parable of the ten minas. No, this is not a parable about ten people who work underground, wear funny hats and look for precious minerals. The type of mina we are talking about was a Greek unit of currency. The parable is found in chapter 19, verses 11-27.
The context of this parable is quite important. This parable is right towards the end of what is known as Luke’s travel narrative. What is known as the travel narrative tells the story of Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. This journey was no ordinary journey. It is not in the same league as our family’s trip from Brisbane to Sydney last December, for instance! No – this was a trip of destiny. It was in Jerusalem that Jesus was to die for the sins of the world. And for the Jews, Jerusalem was not only the centre of Israel – it was the centre of the world. It was the place where it all happened – and where significant things were expected to happen. It was also the place where the Jews expected their Messiah to be revealed.
You see, at this time, the Jews were under foreign domination. The Roman Empire had conquered them and they yearned for independence. In recent times we have seen many peoples struggle for independence – in the 90s we witnessed the breakup of Yugoslavia as the Slovenes, the Croats, the Bosnians and then the Kosovas each fought for their independence. In my wife’s country, what was known as Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia because the Slovaks didn’t want to be under supposed Czech domination. And as I speak, the Americans are having trouble exerting control in Iraq because many Iraqis see them as foreign dominators. It seems to be that people want independence from foreign domination, and they are willing to fight and suffer much for it. The Jews of Jesus’ time were no exception. But unlike the different ethnic groups of today who have no guarantee of success in their struggle for independence, the Jews did have a guarantee. They had it in the iron-clad guarantee of the prophets of the Old Testament, who foretold of a Messiah who would come and deliver them. And the place where He would deliver them, was none other than Jerusalem.
So hopefully then you can see the significance of this journey. Here was Jesus, whom many were rightly supposing was the Messiah. And here He was traveling to Jerusalem. Our parable is located in Jericho, which is only about 30 kilometres – a six hour walk – from Jerusalem.
Right before our parable, we have the account of Zacchaeus, which I will read to give us some sense of the setting of our parable. 19:1 AND He entered and was passing through Jericho. 2 And behold, there was a man called by the name of Zacchaeus; and he was a chief tax-gatherer, and he was rich. 3 And he was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 And he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down, and received Him gladly. 7 And when they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (NASB)