Parable of the Ten Minas

Sermon preached on Luke 19:11-27 by Rev. W. Reid Hankins during the Morning Worship Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 09/25/2022 in Novato, CA.

Sermon Manuscript

Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.

Today’s passage serves as a transition for us from the last section into the next section. We’ve been thinking for several weeks of the section that started in Luke 15 and culminated with last passage’s salvation of Zacchaeus. In that section Jesus was chided by the religious leaders for his ministry to tax collectors and other sinners, but Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost. In that section, Jesus in turn admonished the Pharisees for their love of money. Yet, as we saw last passage that section ended with one rich person not being saved and one rich person being saved. We come then to this passage in the Parable of the Ten Minas that speaks of the stewardship of wealth. As such, this parable is a fitting encore to these last several chapters that spoke against a wrong love of money and wrong use of money, to show like Zacchaeus that our money is something that we can steward in service to God. Our passage in verse 11 even begins by saying that Jesus told this parable after they heard what Jesus had to say about Zacchaeus. And so indeed, whether it be money or any other good thing we have from God, today’s passage will help us think about how to steward it.

Yet, this passage is transitionary, not only in how it looks back to the previous long section, but it also gets us to look ahead to the final main section in Luke’s gospel. Verse 11 references how he is nearing Jerusalem. Indeed, next passage will record his Triumphal Entry and his entrance into Jerusalem. From here in Luke, our attention will be drawn to the events surrounding the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

Let’s then dig into this parable. I will work us through the parable and make applications along the way. Let us begin then by considering verses 12-14. There we see Jesus describe a nobleman who is going away to a far country in order to receive a kingdom unto himself. We are probably to understand that this man was not yet the king, because it describes the citizens voicing opposition about the possibility of his rule. A historical setting that might come to mind to Jesus’ hearers is that of Herod Archelaus. When his father Herod the Great died, he went to Rome to see the emperor to secure his reign over his father’s territory. This he did amidst vocal opposition, but Emperor Caesar Augustus ultimately endowed him with the rule of Judea. But while that might be an historically familiar story, the application of this parable is about Jesus and the kingdom he is going to bring. We see that application made in verse 11. There, we find that Jesus told this parable because as they were nearing Jerusalem, some of his disciples were thinking that the awaited kingdom was going to immanently be established in his fullness. Jesus told this parable to combat that incorrect assumption. This noble’s journey to a far country to secure a kingdom is surely to be likened to what Jesus would be doing. After Jesus goes to Jerusalem to die and rise again, he will ascend up into heaven. He will go far away, in a certain sense, and it will be a long time until he returns. But when he returns, he will return as the fully endowed king ushering in the fulness of his kingdom.

So then, in the parable, Jesus envisions the noble giving his servants instructions for his long absence. He calls ten servants in verse 13 and tells them to engage in business until he returns. To clarify, he isn’t just giving these servants instructions. He is also entrusting them with a role of stewardship. What I mean is that the nobleman takes ten minas and gives one to each of the ten servants. A mina was approximately three months of wages for a typical laborer, so a modest sum. This mina was the money that they were supposed to use and steward for their master while he is away.

Think of how to apply this then. Since the noble has been likened to Jesus, these servants are to be likened to us disciples of Christs. As disciples, we are servants of Jesus. We aren’t to be the opponents of Jesus, like these citizens who opposed the noble’s coming kingdom. We are to be his servants. And Jesus has given us instructions to be about his work until he returns. And Jesus has entrusted to his disciples different gifts to be stewarded until he returns.

I would note in the parable, that the type of business that the noble expects of his servants is not spelled out. In the parable, the servants were clearly given quite a degree of personal latitude to decide what they were going to do with that mina entrusted to them. They all didn’t apparently make the same choices and thus didn’t all have the same results. That means part of the application here is not just to stewardship but fruitful stewardship. Jesus doesn’t want us to just be merely faithful stewards, but to look to be best stewards we can be. We should look to turn a profit, so to speak, with the things Jesus has entrusted to us.

So then, we too have lots of personal freedom to look to be such a steward for Christ. You don’t have to be a pastor to make a return on Jesus’ investment on you, so to speak. And similarly, the things that Jesus has entrusted to you is not just money. You have different spiritual gifts, talents, and skills that you should steward for Jesus. Whether you are a carpenter, homemaker, computer programmer, deliveryman, or some other profession, you are called to make the most of the trust Jesus has given you.

Let us turn now in our second point for today and consider verses 15-26. This is where we see Jesus describe the return of the nobleman who now has indeed become king, as we see described in verse 15, that he returns having received the kingdom. He then calls his servants to come and report to him. Verse 15 says he wants to know what they had gained by doing business as he had instructed them. He wants to know how profitable they each were with the mina he had entrusted to them. So the ten come and report, though we are only told of the reports of three of them. The first servant turned his mina into ten! The second into five! But then we see this other servant who only had his original mina. He had safeguarded it, but nothing more. So then, of these three returns on the king’s investment, one was the best, another was good, but one was bad. The king’s response to each highlights this.

For the one who grew his mina to ten, the king gives a bold commendation. He praises his servant, saying, “Well done, good servant” and commends his faithfulness. When we remember earlier in Luke we saw the parable about how masters are not strictly obligated to thank their servants, we can especially appreciate that this is a notable commendation by the king. But the king’s appreciation is not just in words. The king then gives the servant a far bigger trust than just the ten minas. He is given to rule ten cities! But for the servant who turned his mina into five, he too is rewarded, though the text shows he is not quite as rewarded as the other. There is no explicit praise given for that servant like the first. But he is given to rule five cities, which is no small reward for his profitable stewardship. Clearly the king is pleased with this servant too, even if his service wasn’t as profitable as the first, and thus his reward wasn’t quite as grand. But in both cases, even though there are degrees of rewards, both are lavish. Yes, if you turn a few months’ worth of money into a few years’ worth of money, that is a very good thing and certainly commendable. But you wouldn’t think that would qualify you to then be made a ruler of multiple cities! There is abundant generosity in how God rewards his faithful servants. Again, I said it on a previous sermon. As servants, it is but our duty to serve God, never deserving a reward. Yet, it is our Master God who is well pleased to generously and abundantly reward his servants more than we ask for or even imagine.

But then we see the master’s response to the other servant who just safeguarded his mina. Actually a better description of what he did with his mina is that he squandered it. He comes to give an account as ordered, and he explains what he did and why he did it. It is rather incredulous to hear how bold this servant speaks to his master, by basically implying that the king was just taking advantage of him, because the king was someone who “takes what he did not deposit, and reaps what he did not sow.” When I read this, I thought of some of the entitlement-mentality people today who think such about those in authority over them. But the king is not pleased with this worthless servant. He rebukes him instead of praising him. The king suggests a simple enough act of investing the mina in a bank to at least produce a small return on the king’s investment. But that servant didn’t even do that. Realize then that this servant failed to obey the master by his inaction. The king had instructed him to be engaged in business with that mina while he was gone. Just safeguarding what was entrusted to him did not satisfy that charge. So then, the king not only rebukes him, but then has that servant’s mina transferred to the care of the one who had the ten minas.

Notice that this causes surprise according to verse 25 by those standing by. They point out that he already has ten! I guess if the mina is to be given to someone else, they’d assume you give it to someone who has less. Wouldn’t that be more fair, more equitable, they might think. Of course, in today’s growing spirit of socialism in our society, that’s what one might think. The idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor is sadly celebrated by too many today. But in the parable, the king really does the opposite. He takes from the poor and gives to the rich. Yet, if we stop and think about it, that’s actually the most logical thing for a king to do that is trying to manage his treasures properly. If you are going to reallocate stewardship responsibilities, you probably want to enlist the person who has shown himself most capable. If you want to maximize your ROI, you pick the manager who has shown himself best at that.

The next verse even contains a proverbial statement to really help make this point. Verse 26, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” To be clear, this verse is not part of the parable, it’s part of the application. Christians are being called to stewardship. In this life, we are to be busy about God’s work. And if by God’s grace we do well, we may find God giving us more to steward. But beyond this life, the Bible speaks here and elsewhere of how God will reward with degrees of reward his servant’s grace-wrought works. Not everyone will receive the same degree of reward. Some will receive more than others. And there will even be some that have been in the church that might end up looking like this servant who had his mina taken away. It’s not clear if the unprofitable servant who had his mina taken away represents those who are in the church who aren’t really Christians and thus aren’t really saved; or if this represents the Christian in the church that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 3 that their works are found to be so lacking and that while he is still saved, he has no additional reward in terms of his works to show for it. The wisdom of this parable is that it allows us to think of both possible applications because both are possibilities.

So the application here at this point in the parable is that we as Christians will be called to give an account at the end. This is not to say that at the end we will be judged by our works to see if we earned eternal life. That is not what this teaches. Those who truly have turned to Christ in faith, acknowledging their sins, and seeking his mercy, we will have eternal life. But we are then instructed by Jesus to be profitable servants during this time while we wait for his return. There is even abundant and gracious reward held out to those who by his grace do bear much fruit for his kingdom. This promise of reward is meant to spur us on here and now to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us.

Let us turn now in our last point to consider the citizens who were opposed to this new king. In other words, let’s look back on verse 14 and then with verse 27. While this parable primarily drew our attention to assess the fruitfulness of the servants, there was also this additional thread that there were many people who were in just open opposition against this nobleman who would become king. In verse 14 we saw that they were vocal in speaking against him becoming king in the first place. But then he did become king. And we see his kingly judgment and verdict against them in verse 27. He orders their execution – they received the judgment of capital punishment for their rejection of the king.

The application of this part of the parable is straight forward. There are many who reject Jesus as king. Jesus has gone away for now, ascended on high, reigning from heaven, but he is coming again. When he comes, he will bring the fulness of his kingdom. Those who have been opposed to him, will not be welcome in his kingdom. Only those who have been awaiting his return in submission to king Jesus will be received. So, this parable also includes this warning to a world that has rebelled against God. Repent of your treason against the kingdom of heaven. King Jesus is coming soon with his kingdom whether you like or not. Repent now before it is too late. Seek his mercy. Submit now to the king before it is too late. Otherwise, when he comes he will declare his judgment upon you and it will be the terrible judgment of the fires of hell.

In conclusion, this parable teaches us how to be living here and now while we wait for Jesus to return. Let none of us be rejecting Jesus as king. That’s what we learn from the parable’s citizens that rejected the king. This is a call to be saved from eternal damnation by submitting to Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you haven’t already learned that application, that is where you need to begin. Become a Christian today!

But for us who are Christians, let us all be doing then what Jesus tells us, to be his servants here and now who are working hard on his behalf. Let us reflect on what gifts and talents he has given us. Let us be faithful stewards with them, and look to be fruitful and productive and profitable for Christ and his kingdom. What does this stewardship look like? Let me give you a few specific practical applications that we have seen in this parable.

One part of good stewardship means we need to have the proper attitude. The servant who failed here didn’t have the right attitude toward his master. He didn’t respect his master, he scorned him, and thought him not worthy of his service. But our master is Jesus. We should have a great attitude toward Jesus. We should love him, not hate him. Jesus is so worthy of our service for all the ways he has loved us. This servant complained that his master reaped what he has not sown. But that is not the case of Jesus, for it was his great labor of love that sowed the seed of our salvation through his active and passive obedience culminating in the cross. We owe our very lives to Jesus. Let our attitude toward Jesus be full of love and gratitude and greatest honor and respect. If so, that will help us in our stewardship and service to him.

Another part of good stewardship means we need wisdom. This failing servant didn’t even use enough basic wisdom to invest his mina in the bank and get some basic interest. But the one servant used wisdom to find a way to get a ten-fold return on the master’s investment. Such fruit doesn’t just happen. The good servants had to use wisdom to know how to properly turn a profit. We will need to be students of wisdom to learn how to maximize all our God given potential.

Yet another part of good stewardship means that we need diligence. You can have the best attitude toward Jesus and even a very wise game plan on how to serve Jesus, but if you aren’t diligent to put things into action, you won’t bear any fruit. We must not squander the opportunity before us by idleness. We must be diligent and hard working for Christ, and it is something we must be faithful to continue in.

So then, these are three practical applications that we can take from our passage today for stewardship. I remind you how this passage is trying to motivate us in our stewardship. It has taught us that our Lord will see our service to him, that we will even acknowledge it and commend it and reward it. Yes, it is but our duty and obligation to do these things; but it his delight to reward us, even more than we deserve. What a wonderful king we have. Let us serve him in joy and gladness as we await his return.


Copyright © 2022 Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
All Rights Reserved.


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