A. The Kingdom of God
The continual theme of Jesus’ preaching was the kingdom of God; what it’s like, how to become members in it, how we are to live as members of it.
As mentioned, this parable is about Jesus and the Kingdom of God. You might also be interested to know that this parable is based on actual historical events.
When Jesus tells this parable he is sitting at Zacchaeus’ table in the city of Jericho. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, the time was the Passover and the anticipation amongst Jesus’ followers was that upon his entrance into the city that he would begin his kingly rule.
To correct this false hope, Jesus tells this parable.
As mentioned, this parable is based on actual historical events. In particular this parable would have reminded Jesus’ hearers of a man named Archelaus. Archelaus was the son of King Herod, the same King Herod who had all the children in the vicinity of Bethlehem murdered in hopes that Jesus as a toddler would be killed. In the city of Jericho- where Jesus is telling his parable, Archelaus had built a huge and magnificent palace.
Upon his death, Herod, to his 3 surviving sons, left his kingdom and wealth. One of his sons named Archelaus inherited Judea. It was necessary that Caesar ratify his father’s will and his kingship and so he headed off to Rome. Before leaving events occurred which led to his killing 3000 Jews.
Because the people so hated Archelaus for this they sent a delegation of 50 men to Rome to protest Archelaus’ being made king over them. Because of the delegation and many charges of corruption brought against Archelaus’ father, the title of king was not confirmed upon him. Instead he was made an ethnarch over Judea.
Upon his return to Judea he, in revenge, made life even harder for the Jews than it was in the days of his father. 10 years later Caesar banished him from the region for his extreme cruelty.
As you can probably tell, Jesus’ parable would have reminded his hearers of the now dead Archelaus—just note the parallels in the story to him
The question is why? Why did Jesus, knowing of the history of the man who had ruled from that city tell a parable like this and have the parable refer to himself and the kingdom of God?
I. Verse 11 tells us why? Jesus told this parable to make it clear that the time for his ruling over the world was not yet. It was not yet for him to come in his kingdom
It’s hard for us to grasp just how pumped up the people around Jesus were regarding the possibility that Jesus would then enter Jerusalem and assume the kingship.
As mentioned the time was the Passover and every Passover time Jewish expectation regarding the Messiah heightened. Jesus’ followers had in mind that Jesus was heading up to Jerusalem to assume his Kingship, defeat the Romans, and usher in the anticipated time of peace and prosperity.
Jesus’ followers held this expectation in spite of the fact that he had a number of times told them that in Jerusalem he would encounter great hostility and death and then 3 days later he would rise from the dead.