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Parables Of The Master

Luke 19:11-28


(From the Greek word “mna”)

Although there are similarities to the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the different context, audience, and mina* distribution clearly establish it as unique.

A short time earlier, Jesus had spoken in plain language of His impending suffering, death, and resurrection, but to His disciples it was a foreign language. They had not understood (Luke 18:31-34). Thoughts of an impending earthly kingdom–reinforced in their minds by both the Jericho healing of the blind beggar and the amazing conversion of Zacchaeus–had resurfaced.

To counteract this thinking and to remind them of their calling, Jesus told this parable.

The Nobleman And His Servants

A nobleman (Jesus–after completing His saving work) went to a distant country (returned to heaven), where He was received as King. He had promised His servants He would return (in glory). Before departing (ascending), the nobleman (Jesus) gave each of His ten servants (His Church, all believers) a mina (about three months’ wages–a great treasure) to be invested in His service.

While the talents in Matthew chapter 25 point to individual gifts and blessings distributed by the Spirit to believers as He will (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), the ten minas (one to each servant) point to a great blessing given equally and fully to each Christian (the gospel in Word and Sacrament). This gift was given not only for them and their salvation, but also for others through them. “Put this money to work,” the nobleman instructed. We are called to be stewards of the “mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1), caretakers and messengers of God’s saving revelation in Christ.

Sadly, this parable also reminds us of the negative reception accorded the gospel by the world. Some of the nobleman’s own subjects hated and rejected Him (His Messiah claims and His message of forgiveness and salvation through His saving work alone). To this very day the vast, unbelieving world–despite its facade of love and tolerance for all–reacts no differently. “We will not have Jesus as our King and Savior! He’s not the one!”

Use Or Lose Your Mina

Upon His return (on the Last Day) the exalted nobleman (Jesus) calls His servants to give an account of their mina investment (gospel stewardship). Each of the faithful servants (according to his calling and opportunity) has wisely invested his gospel mina. It has produced growth and fruit in his heart and others.

With the expression “your mina has earned (more) minas” (vv. 16,18), we are reminded that it is the gospel (and not the servants) which effects the growth of the Word (John 15:1-8). Yet to effectively “work,” the gospel must live by faith in our hearts and be shared and proclaimed by our words and actions. Such faithful gospel stewardship leads to a commendation and blessing of grace–an eternity of love and service to our Redeemer.

Such was not the case with the final servant. In doing little or nothing with or for his gospel mina, he shows the true attitude of his heart. Such a faithless and uncommitted spirit can only bring about, ultimately, the loss of the gospel in one’s own heart and life together with its tragic consequences.

We have been created, redeemed, and left on earth according to God’s time to be stewards and investors of the gospel mina. Every other purpose and profit (Mark 8:38) in life pales by comparison. The greatest gift we possess is not our talents, resources, or energies, but the gospel itself. Our faithful use and investment of that gift in our personal, family, church, and synodical life will effect blessed spiritual life and growth in ourselves and others.

Ever conscious of our great calling, ever moved by the forgiving love of Christ, we go forward in faith as He leads. Eagerly we await the Day of accounting when the invested gospel minas will produce an innumerable dividend of souls eternally devoted to the praise and glory of their Savior-King. May we and those we love and serve be among them.

–Pastor David Schierenbeck