The Parable of the Ten Minas is a fascinating study that is uniquely rooted in a real and historically credible source. Archelaus, who was the son of Herod the Great, asked Augustus Caesar to grant him the right of rule over the people and kingdom of Israel. Some of the Jewish people weren’t too pleased with Archelaus, so they sent out a company of individuals to thwart his ambition from happening. It is under this backdrop that Jesus will address the nature of the kingdom. Luke 19 introduces a man named Zacchaeus just prior to the relating of Christ’s parable. Zacchaeus is driven by such a desire to see Jesus, that he is willing to climb a sycamore tree when the thick crowd would otherwise bar his attempt. This display of zeal on the part of Zacchaeus should have a profound impact, in terms of the larger context, on our understanding of the verses that follow in Luke 19:11-27. Jesus is journeying toward his glorification, that is to say, his death, burial, and resurrection. Prior to that earth-shaking event, Jesus had been preparing for the Passover. Passover was a crucial time for the Jews. It was a reminder of the bondage they experienced under the strict hand of Pharaoh, but it also was a recollection of their deliverance under the leadership of Moses, who was guided by Jehovah.
Passover in the time of Christ
To begin with, it is significant that Jesus participated in activities that were innovations in the Passover as recorded in Exodus. Nevertheless, it goes almost without saying that even though there were alterations, these changes were not anti-Scriptural since nothing in them can be demonstrated to conflict with any other part of scripture. These innovations did not violate any principle of commemoration ordained by God; for example, consider the following additions to the original Passover: (1) the introduction of four cups of wine, and (2) reclining. Originally, the eating of the Passover was done in haste, due to the militant attacks, but in the time of Jesus, the tradition was to recline or lean in token of one’s freedom. The drinking of the wine is mentioned by all of the synoptic writers. Each filling received a particular name to focus attention on their blessings and redemption from bondage. For example, the first filling was called “the Cup of Consecration”; the second filling was called “the Cup of Proclamation”; the third filling was called by two names, namely, “the Cup of Blessing” and “the Cup of Redemption,” which also represented the blood of the Paschal lamb; and the fourth filling was called “the Cup of Hallel,” also known as the Cup of Praise. The third filling represented the blood of the Paschal lamb slain to protect the firstborn. The third cup was the most suitable for Jesus to utilize to represent His blood being shed or poured out for the redemption.
Parable of the Minas
The parable in Luke 19:11-27 is often regarded as the same parable in Matthew 25:14-30. But while there are a number of similarities, there are also profound differences. For instance, in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) a man goes on a journey and gives his servants five, two, and one talent. The servant who is given five talents and the servant given two talents double their value through use while the remaining servant, possessing the one talent hides his in fear of losing its value and being accountable for it to the master. The master returns and is pleased to know that two have worked their talents. He rewards them accordingly, declaring: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness’ (Matthew 25:21). However, the one talent man is condemned: His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! (Matthew25:26). This parable is somewhat simple. It is set forth in Matthew’s eschatological message, that is to say, Matthew’s teaching on the last days. For Christians this parable instructs us to be pro-active in ministry, rather than to sit idly by watching others do the work. Christians are summoned to engage the world with the truthfulness and reality of Jesus Christ. Paul reminds the Christians: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (II Corinthians 5:17-21).
In the parable of the Minas found in Luke 19:11-27 a man goes on a journey and he gives ten servants a mina and encourages them to work. On his return, three are summoned to answer to him. The first one doubled his masters gift. The master commended him: “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities’(Luke 19:17). The second nearly did the same. Listen again to the master: “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more. “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities’(19:18:19). The third simply hid his in a cloth. Notice the outcome: Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow. His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas (19:20-24).
Again, it is apparent from this parable that Christians are exhorted to vigilance for the return of the Lord. While awaiting upon the arrival of the King, Christians should be active participants in preparing the hearts of the people for the soon arrival of our King. While the similarities of the two parables are inescapable, there are important differences in their focus, outcome and application. The reason for the Lucan parable is to offset the popular understanding that the kingdom was to appear at once. It is incontestable that the kingdom of God was central to the teaching of Jesus so this distinction/understanding has real importance in terms of its impact on the faith. Not limited to Jesus, John the Baptist announced the kingdom: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). One of the most intriguing aspects of the kingdom is its correlation to the proclamation with the Word of God: But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent”(Luke 4:43). In Luke, Jesus makes it clear that the kingdom is unlike the eschatological coming of the kingdom in Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.” Jesus describes the kingdom in this manner: “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you”(Luke 17:20:21).
Specifically, in Luke 19:11-27 Jesus is discussing the reign of the kingdom of God. This reign isn’t initiated by his second coming. Jesus set out the distinct difference between his wisdom and the larger misunderstanding/anticipation by illustrating it with: “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it”(vs. 15). This kingdom is subsequent to His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, that is to say, his intended victory over sin and death (vs. 12) and not over the kingdoms of man. Jesus wasn’t talking about the kingdom at the second advent, but He is addressing the incarnation of the Messiah, the Anointed of God. Paul notes the inauguration of the coming One in Galatians 4:4-7: But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He consistently baffled and refuted those who were targeting his teaching and identity. Jesus upset the plans and ideas of those around Him who thought He was going to set up a temporal reign and saw the glory of Israel restored as a sword in the hand of a greater, but earthly kingdom. So when Jesus stood before Pilate and announced: My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place. You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me (John 18:36-37).
His words must have felt like a physical blow to those who had believed themselves on the cusp of a new age, free of Rome’s benevolent tyranny and restored to their proper place by the God of their fathers. Jesus was letting Pilate and all who are His followers that his kingdom is in this world but not of this world. That is a very important distinction. This idea is also conveyed in John 17:11. Jesus was praying for his apostles and concludes the prayer with these words: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.” The apostles of Jesus were in the world, but not of the world. In the same way, the kingdom of God may be in this world, but it is not of this world. We have recorded for us the reality of what would happen if Jesus’ kingdom was meant to be of this world: Jesus said, “If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place”(John 18:36). Jesus is informing us that a kingdom of this world is a kingdom that rules by force. However, in verse 37 we get to peek into how Christ manifests His rule: “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Jesus uncovers the reality of the kingdom. He asserts that you are either in the kingdom of this world or of the Truth.
A copious amount of material is disclosed about the kingdom within the pages of Holy Writ. Bear in mind, the kingdom that Jesus is addressing in Luke 19:11-27 is pertaining to Lordship. Who’s are we? Are you of this world? Or, are you of Truth? Jesus states in John 8:32: “ Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Following that statement, Jesus defines that truth: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”(vs. 36). The parable of the minas doesn’t concern some geographical destination for the kingdom. It speaks to the centrality of one’s soul. This view of the real nature of the kingdom and man’s obligation as inferred by the parable are found in the example of Zacchaeus and in Christ’s response to him. “Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9). Salvation is available to all. Who will you serve? Are your passions, dreams, and aspirations fixed upon this world? Or are your passions, dreams, and aspiration fixed upon the One who formed this world? The choice remains a clear and compelling one, Jesus or self?