This parable (Luke 19:11-27) is also similar to that of the talents but with a few significant additions. The chapter begins with Jesus and His disciples on their way to Jerusalem. As they were passing through Jericho, we see this, “While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (19:11).
Hmm, that should strike some as odd, for why would they suppose that just because they were near Jerusalem that the kingdom of God was going to appear – immediately? Matthew 20:17-19 tells us why, “As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way, He said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.’”
Goodness, gracious! That is the entire Gospel story! We see here that Jesus told them beforehand what was going to happen when they got to Jerusalem, which not only gives us the reason for the disciples’ supposition in Luke’s account, but it suggests that they attributed what He had said to mean that the kingdom was “at hand.”
In addition to that, we must also point out that when Jesus had addressed the Pharisees earlier regarding the coming of the kingdom of God, also from Luke’s gospel (17:20-21), He said to them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed…. For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
We must keep in mind that these are “kingdom” parables that we are dealing with here, but He told them that the kingdom was in their midst – in their midst! Yes. It was in their midst because the kingdom came in with Him – the King – the King of kings. Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God when He, the Son of God – God the Son – came to earth and began His ministry.
Recall what we saw and discussed in Daniel 7:9-14 when he had the dream and saw the vision of the Son of Man presented before the Ancient of Days and was given an everlasting kingdom. What Daniel saw was Jesus after He was resurrected and went to the father! Jesus’ work was done. “It is finished!” He said as He breathed His last. As we have said, Daniel and Jesus are inextricably linked!
When Jesus began His ministry healing the sick and raising the dead, and when He was casting out demons and teaching us how to live, it was the beginning of the ushering in of the kingdom. His cousin John the Baptist told us as much when he said, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 3:2), which Jesus repeated on several occasions (4:17, 23; 10:7; 16:28). Now, looking at that last verse, we see that it clearly states that some of those very people Jesus was talking to would see it in its fullness. At hand meant it was here.
So, as we pointed out, when He told them that He had to die on the cross and that He would be raised in three days, and finally when God did raise Him from the dead, His work was finished – He paid the penalty for the sin of all who claim Him as Lord and Savior of their lives. The people had finished their transgression, just as the angel Gabriel had told Daniel would happen (Daniel 9:24) – when they crucified Him. So, when God resurrected Him, the kingdom had come – it had been in their midst!
Next, we see His response to the disciples’ concern by His telling them a parable (Luke 19:12-13), “So He said, ‘A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, “Do business with this until I come back.”’”
Now, while there are differences, there are, as we said, also similarities in some of the details here compared to Matthew’s account of the talents. Minas and talents are both measures of money, as are denarii. Therefore, the similarities are too striking to not show them in juxtaposition to each other. Another matter of note here is that the master gave each of them a mina and told them to “do business” with it, which is also similar to the slaves with the talents who “traded” with them, i.e., they did business.
19:14-15: “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done.”
Two items of significance here are 1) the backbiting by the citizens against their lord and, 2) the lord received the kingdom. Regarding the first, when one goes behind the back of the one in power, he better be sure of success or else he will suffer the consequences, as we will see.
Continuing (19:16-19), “The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’“
We can see the similarities to the parable of the talents in that two of the slaves did business by earning more for their master and received praise and reward for doing so. Then we see this, “Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’
“He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’ Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas’” (19:20-24).
There is not much of a difference between that passage and that which appears in the parable of the talents except that instead of hiding it in the ground, this slave hid it in a handkerchief. Of more significance is what came next, “And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (19:25-26).
That passage is nearly identical to that in the parable of the talents, which means that Jesus uttered it at least twice; in fact, He said it several times; therefore, it is critical. “To everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have in abundance,” He said. And then, “From the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away from him” (Matthew 25:29; Luke 19:26). Thus saith the Lord! There is a lesson to be learned here!
We must state the fact that in life, there is the expression “money begets money,” and it is a true statement. Those who have money accumulate more because of their smarts – their ability to trade, to do business, to invest to earn interest, dividends, and capital gains. They did not dig a hole and bury it, and they did not lazily stand by and wait for a helping hand from the government – they used their God-given talents to earn more. That is their right, that is their responsibility to themselves and society, and that is what we see here.
Yet we see the others complaining because the master took from the lazy, worthless, and ungrateful slave and gave it to the one with the most, which is his prerogative. And then he said, “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence (19:27).”
Those who complained to the lord because he exercised his discretion escaped his wrath as he made still another decision, and had the ones who attempted to undermine him brought before him to be executed, exercising his wrath – also at his discretion. Life is not always fair, but it is what one makes it.