Luke 19:11–27 . . . Bible Study Summary with Photos
The Parable of the Ten Minas
Jesus tells his next parable to warn us about an upcoming exam. He told it because the disciples and others who were journeying to Jerusalem with him had the wrong notion, thinking that he'd institute the kingdom of God immediately. They didn't realize that he'd suffer and die, be raised again, ascend into heaven, and that many years would pass before he'd return to establish his kingdom. Jesus let his hearers know what they were supposed to do during his absence: They were not supposed to sit around waiting for him to return; rather, they were to be actively conducting business for him with what he'd entrusted to them. The day will certainly come when Jesus will return. At that time, each hearty servant must give an account for what he's done during the wait.
There are four key elements to this parable; it's wise to look at each element carefully. We must first realize and accept the fact that, although the Spirit of Jesus actively directs believers' lives, God's kingdom is not yet here in its full and final form. Second, the Master has given all of us the same resource that we're to use for him and his purposes. Third, that while we await the Master's return, there are things that he's asked us to do, no matter how challenging they might appear to us. And fourth, we had better be ready to give our personal account to the Master, telling him exactly what we did and didn't do for him while waiting for his return. Let's examine all four elements, one by one.
The Kingdom is Not Yet Here in Its Full and Final Form
In this parable, Jesus is correcting the false view of the disciples (and others) that the kingdom of God would be instituted in its full form when Jesus arrived at Jerusalem. His story was meant to show them that there's both a present form of the kingdom, while the King is away, and a future, full sense of the kingdom, that will happen when the King returns. Jesus has already spoken of the present sense of the kingdom, that it's in their midst because he, the King, was in their midst (11:20; 17:21).
But the disciples struggled with the idea that the consummation of the kingdom would be delayed. Even after the resurrection, they asked Jesus, "Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). The disciples finally saw this matter clearly (Acts 3:19–21), but at that point they didn't understand; they fully expected Jesus to establish his reign over Israel in the immediate future. But Jesus wanted them to understand that there'd be a delay. One day, the King will return and rule in power and glory. Meanwhile, he's still King, albeit absent. He wanted his followers to know what they should do during that time: Rather than sit around waiting for the King to return, they should conduct his business, actively working to bring people under his lordship.
The Master Has Entrusted to All of Us the Same Resource to Use for Him
Note: This Parable of the Ten Minas is not the same as the Parable of the Talents (a.k.a. the Gold Bags Parable — Matthew 25:14–30). We must compare the two parables because they teach a different lesson. [See comparative highlights in the lists below.] Matthew's parable shows that different servants have been given different abilities, and that the danger is for the person with relatively smaller ability to do nothing. Luke's parable shows that every servant has been given the same gift and that the difference in results is not due to differing gifts but to differing levels of diligence in using the gifts.
The Parables' Differences Summarized
Approaching Jerusalem (19:28) In Jerusalem (24:1–3)
A nobleman, then king (v. 12) A man (v. 14)
Went to receive kingdom (v. 12) Went away on journey (v. 14)
Money = Mina (v. 13) Money = Talent (v. 15)
Each given one mina (v. 13) Given according to ability (v. 15)
Gains were different (vv. 16, 18, 20) Each doubled his gain (vv. 16–18)
The fact that each of ten servants received a mina shows that it wasn't just the twelve apostles who were in view, but rather God's servants in general. Thus Luke's parable account isn't directed just to those in leadership, but to all of Christ's subjects. The fact that each was given the same amount shows that it isn't referring to differing gifts but to something that all followers of Christ share in common, namely, the Word of God and, in particular, the central message of that Word: the gospel. We've all been given the same gospel; and we're all told to do business with it for our King during his absence.
Awaiting the Master's Return, We Must Present the Gospel, Even in a Hostile Environment
In this parable, the subjects are to use the Master's mina in the face of citizens who angrily protest: "We don't want this man to be our king." The parable references the Jewish nation, which had been rejecting Jesus as her King. They protested to Pilate, "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15). But beyond that, it also refers to this evil world that remains hostile toward God and doesn't want to submit to Jesus as Lord and King. It's in just such a hostile world that we're to do business with Jesus' gospel, multiplying its impact by presenting it to and investing it in the lives of people.
Clearly, there's always a risk in doing business in a hostile environment. But the greater risk is not doing business at all while carefully wrapping up the Master's mina in a cloth, not utilizing it for the Master's purposes. Also, it's implied here what's clearly taught elsewhere: The power of the gospel is in the message itself, not in the skill of the messenger. The subjects don't say, Master, my great business skill has multiplied your mina. Rather, they say, Your mina has made ten minas more, and Your mina, master, has made five minas. The power is in the minas, not in the servants. The power of the gospel is not the power of slick salesmanship but rather God's power working through his Word.
When the Master Returns, We'll All be Called to Give an Account of Our Business
The delay in the Master's return doesn't mean that he won't return; his return is certain, though delayed. The group of disgruntled citizens hoped that he wouldn't return, or at least that he wouldn't return as king. But, clearly, when he does return, it'll be as the King, with full power and authority to reign. He calls his subjects and servants to give an account of the business that they'd conducted in his absence, and he orders that his enemies be brought to him and executed in his presence.
Three groups must give an account: (1) servants who've conducted business appropriately for the Lord; (2) servants who haven't; and (3) rebellious people.
Group 1, Those Who Took Appropriate Action Only three of ten servants are mentioned in this parable; these three fall into two categories: two who've made various amounts with the king's money, and one who hasn't done anything with it. In Group 1 we see the two who traded and invested the Master's money in such a way that they multiplied it; the first earned a ten-fold profit, turning the one mina into ten more; the second received a five-fold profit, turning one mina into five. We shouldn't take this literally, as if the subjects had led five and ten people to Christ. Rather, the meaning is that they've taken what the master entrusted to them and used it well, multiplying it many times over in benefitting the master's business.
The master's commendation: "Well done, my good servant! . . . Because you've been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities" (v. 17). Again, don't take this literally, that he'll be responsible for ten cities in the millennium, although it's possible. The idea is that the servant's responsible use of the master's mina will be rewarded with increased responsibility in the future kingdom. The servant has shown himself faithful in a little thing; he'll thus be faithful in much, because much was given to him.
Group 2, Those Who Failed to Act Appropriately The first two servants made a profit with the king's mina; the third had simply wrapped it in a piece of cloth, returning it intact to the king. His excuse was that he feared him, knowing that he was an exacting man who took up what he didn't lay down and reaped what he hadn't sown. The king chastised him for not putting the money in the bank, so that it would have earned interest. He also judged the servant by his own words, taking the single mina from the nonproductive servant and giving it to the responsive servant who'd earned ten. When the bystanders expressed surprise, the king explained the principle: To everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who doesn't have, even what he does have will be taken away. The one who's proven himself faithful will have more opportunities for faithfulness, yet the one who's been unfaithful will be stripped of his responsibilities.
It's possible that this third servant doesn't know the king at all. He wrongly thought of him as a harsh man, when in reality he's very loving and generous to all faithful servants. This third servant, then, represents those believers who know the gospel and should believe it but are indifferent and unconcerned about the Master's purpose and kingdom. As a result, they aren't using the opportunities that he's made available to them so that they could further his kingdom. They're living for themselves and making up excuses as to why they aren't serving the King.
Group 3, The Rebellious The parable's king said, "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me" (v. 27). The enemies hated the king and actively opposed his reign. But their opposition didn't thwart his being installed as king, nor Jesus being recognized and glorified as King. While in the parable the penalty is execution, that's mild compared to the eternal judgment that will come upon those who've opposed the lordship of Christ; they'll experience eternal torment, away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. They'll get what they sought: eternal separation from the king.
The issue is Christ's lordship. These rebels didn't want the King reigning over them. Those who truly believe in Christ rightly subject themselves to his lordship. However, those who reject Christ's lordship will face his fearful and final judgment. When you're truly saved, you actively make Jesus your Lord — actively! There's no neutral, inactive position with regard to Christ. In which of the three groups are you?
It Makes You Wonder . . . .
- Q. 1 Who's represented by the hated nobleman who becomes king?
- Q. 2 While a mina had only a ±$20 value, why did Jesus emphasize this faithfulness test as a "very small matter"? (v. 17b)
This Week's Passage
The Parable of the Ten Minas
11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'
14"But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.'
15"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.
16"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'
17"'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'
18"The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.'
19"His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.'
20"Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21I 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.'
22"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? 23Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?'
24"Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.'
25"'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!'
26"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me.'"