The early church father Jerome said of parables “The marrow of a parable is different from the promise of its surface, and like as gold is sought for in the earth, the kernel in a nut and the hidden fruit in the prickly covering of chestnuts, so in parables we must search more deeply after the divine meaning.”
I am not sure about you but I have a tendency to not always read the Bible properly. I usually have a very good memory regarding things I have watched, read, or heard. I can generally remember the details or at the very least the gist of something. At least well enough that upon seeing or hearing it again I remember much of it from before. This is a gift but also a disadvantage at times because as I read through the Scriptures I can easily gloss over things. So I did with the parable of the Minas in Luke 19. If three weeks ago you would have asked I would have told you the parable of the Minas and the parable of the Talents were the same parable. I would have however been wrong. They are different and convey slightly different main messages, as well as different subtle messages.
A few quick points separating the two as I think it important. The parable of the Minas is being told to a crowd before Jesus triumphant entry to Jerusalem, while the Talent parable is being told to the 12 in Jerusalem. This is important because the audience of a parable can help shed light on it’s meaning. Another quick difference is the characters in the parable. In the Minas there are 10 servants and multiple citizens, while in the parable of the Talents there are only the man’s servants. This again helps us understand the meaning. Also the amount is vastly different. A mina is about 1/60th of a talent. This is a huge difference.
The first thing we need to do is decide whether or not Jesus is the master in the parable. This will dictate the rest of the parable. Most commentators say that yes Jesus is the master in the parable. The parable does resemble the story of Herod the Great’s son Archelaus and would have been familiar to them. On a side note isn’t great how God talks to us in a language we understand. The parables of Jesus always tie into something that should/could be understand.
Understanding that Jesus is the nobleman in the parable I want to turn the remaining attention to the three servants.
The servants are all given the same amount of money to stewart.
In this parable we notice that all the servants are given the same amount namely 10 Minas. They also clearly understood the task “do business until I return.” They had been given a job, and they were expected to do that job. If my boss gives me a task I am expected to complete it. If I ask my daughter to do something I expect she will do it. This was not a gift but part of their job. They were told to do business with their Masters money. They were stewards of the Masters property
In my last position I was among other things in charge of the buildings phone, and HVAC systems. We went through two upgrades in the systems I managed. I was tasked with using the owners money and resources with the expectation of improvement. If I mismanaged that I would be a bad stewart. The money was not mine but I was given control of it for a purpose. The resources (staff in this case) were not mine but they were subject to me for this task. I had to carefully weigh the options and come up with a plan to bring increase. In the case of the HVAC system we needed to reduce cost, and with the phone system we needed to improve quality. I had a job to do, and I was allocated resources to do that job. I could not take those funds and buy a car. I could not take staff and have them clean my house. The funds and people had a purpose.
The returns ROI is different, but return is present.
Of the ten stewarts three responses are recorded, two of which are positive but different.
The first one was able to produce a 100% increase in his master’s money. He was some how able to double the money. Maybe he opened a business or invested in a start-up. I don’t know what he did but he doubled that money. Lets say a mina is three months wages and the average monthly wage is $3,000. That means he took $90k and turned it into $180k. That is a big return, and typically a big return is found at the end of a big risk. You do not typically get a return like that without taking chances. A really good stock return is 20% while the average is like 10%. That would be like a $18k to $9k return. Still good but not 100% return. This guy was probably a risk taker. I would imagine he either was a daring as it gets, knew he was that good, or (and I like this one) knew that people knew this was his bosses money so they knew not to mess him over. Either way he did something.
The one who returned less increase is not punished but rewarded.
The second one produced a 50% yield. This means he turned $90k into $145k. Still no small feat. That is still unheard of. If someone did that in the stock market there would be an investigation launched for insider trading. I would imagine he was a little more reserved than the first guy or struck out but he still had to have a very good idea of what he was doing.
I noticed that the second man was not chastised for only a 50% increase. He was rewarded the same way. The first servant got to rule 10 cities and the second 5 cities. Each to their ability. That teaches us something very important about God. He gives us more based on our ability to take care of that. If you cannot handle something God does not give you more to rule over.
God expects us to take care of His property It says in in Psalms 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” That is pretty clear but just in case:
1 Corinthians 10:261 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
Genesis 1:9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
Deuteronomy 10:14 To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.
Job 41:11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me
Psalm 50:12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
I think you get the point. God owns all this. It is His and He can do as He pleases with. What does He please to do with it? Well partly to have you and I work it. He placed Adam in the garden and told him to work it. He expects you and I to do His work. Eph says that there are good works prepared for us. We have a job to do. We have a work to put our hands too. We are to love, and help, and serve. To teach, and reach those who need it. We are called to a work. James says faith without works is dead. What does that mean? It means you have faith so you can do the work of God. We are not called to faith to be observers but active. Faith in Christ should lead to action.
The last guy missed the point entirely. He was so wrapped up in his own ideas and thoughts that he never did his masters bidding. He was so caught up in the fact that the master collects where he did not work that he just wanted to keep the money safe. I think his problem was having as master in the first place. From the text it does not even appear he tried. He decided who the master was and how he acted. Notice that the master says “out of your own mouth.” How many times have we decided who God is? How many times have we rejected God’s provision or blessing in our life before He even got a chance? I have a tendency to look more at God’s standards more than the standard giver. I have a tendency to say “God this is your standard, and your expectation and I cannot live up to that, I am taking myself out of the running.” I can tell you from first hand experience that is not good and there is no reward in that. I am working on living a life that says “God I know I might fail, but I am going to try, I am going to embrace your life, and love.” I am trying to keep reminding myself of Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love.” God is not asking me, He is not asking you to do something He will not provide for. The master in this story gave them the money and said do business. He did not say go find some money and then do business. He provided the thing needed. How much more does God provide for His work.
So what is the point? How do we take this and use it in our own lives? Well I don’t know. I cannot presume to know where you are, or how you need/can use this. Here is what I do know is a young body we have an awesome and great possibility before us. We are a ragtag group if I have ever seen one. We come from broken homes, loving homes, faithless families, faithful families, lots of children, no children, and so on. We each have a past that enables us to reach people, but more importantly we have each other, and we have God. We have God calling us to a work, and we must now decide whether we will do His work and look for ways to invest ourselves our whole selves for His work. If we do this then we will have a great ROI that we can present to our Master. Or we can sheepishly hid ourselves and await His return.
The choice is ours.
Just a thought,