Summary: A look at the third servant's complaint that the master is a harsh man.
A Tense Moment: Standing before the master with empty hands.
- After handing back to his master what he was given, the servant stands with empty hands. He has nothing more to give. He has done nothing productive with the mina entrusted to him. It is a tense moment, worthy of our attention.
- The relevance of that scene to us today obviously requires a look toward Final Judgment.
- Many people don’t really think about the idea that they will stand before the Master someday to be judged. They’re focused on the here and now and thoughts of standing before God someday are not more relevant and real than thoughts of meeting Santa Claus.
- Other people believe that God is a benevolent, slightly-senile old man who will smile big, ask them if they tried, wink at whatever massive shortcomings their service may have included, then take everyone for ice cream. A.k.a. Final Judgment seen as the aftermath of a t-ball game.
- Other people know they will stand before the Master. They also know their life has not been productive. But they are confident that a well-thought-out excuse will bring the begrudging agreement of the master that the failure is justified.
- The first two are wrong for reasons we’re not exploring this morning. The third is the focus of our attention for this message.
Is The Master Really A Harsh Man? The servant believed the master’s expectations were unreasonable.
- Luke 19:21.
- The servant characterizes the master as being a hard man, a harsh man.
- The thought here is reminiscent of an Old Testament. In Exodus 5:1-9, Pharaoh demands that Israel begin to make their daily quota of bricks, only now he refuses to give them the straw they need to make the bricks. He is demanding the same number of bricks as before, only now he’s refusing to provide a major ingredient in the bricks. You could say he’s asking for “something out of nothing.” The servant in the Luke 19 parable is looking at his master believing that he is the same type of unreasonable boss as Pharaoh was.
- The master never acknowledges this to be true, although he does go with the servant’s words in v. 22 (“You knew, did you. . .”) to show that even if what the servant said is true, his inaction is still not justified. This is not a concession to the accuracy of the servant’s argument; this is a rebuttal that if his characterization of the master as harsh were true, the servant would have behaved differently. The servant’s own actions (or, in this case, inactions) undermine his excuse.
- Let’s focus our attention, though, on why the servant thought the master was harsh.
- I think the comment the servant makes at the end of v. 21 is interesting: “You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.”
- That’s an odd phrase and there are at least a couple of things it might mean:
a. It might mean something like “You don’t deserve to have anything from me because you didn’t work for it.”
- This is not unlike what many people feel when paying taxes. “I do all the work and yet I have to send this much to the government who didn’t work for any of it?”
- The thought here would be that the servant didn’t feel that the master deserved to benefit from his labor. In this case, the “hard man” is more of an indictment than a complaint. He in essence is saying, “I didn’t do anything because the only thing I feel toward you is fear. You’re a bully, going around taking what doesn’t belong to you and demanding what you didn’t work for. I don’t have any desire to work to enrich you.” Perhaps his thinking here is influenced by the citizens (v. 14) who didn’t want this man as their king.
- Of course, this is not an accurate characterization of the master. While the master does have expectations of the servant, he both invested in the servant (giving the mina) and has legitimate jurisdiction over the servant (the recently-finalized kingship)
- This (although they probably wouldn’t say it like that) is similar to people claiming faith today who chafe at the suggestion that Christ has claims on their life.
- Sure, they like “believing in Him,” but that doesn’t mean they have to change their lives, right? That doesn’t mean they have to obey His instructions except when they want to, right? That doesn’t mean they have to suffer for God, right? That doesn’t mean that they would have to make uncomfortable changes in their life, right?
- There are many people claiming faith today who want to say they are believers in Jesus without being followers of Jesus. And they dismissively reject assertions from preachers (or others) that they might have to do something whether they want to or not simply because Jesus said to. Such crazy ideas receive the response: “It’s my life and I can do what I want to with it!”