Wednesday, April 19, 2017 6:00 PM
Turn in your Bible to Luke 19:11-27. In my old New American Standard Version this parable is called “The Parable of Money Usage,” but it's not a sermon about stewardship. It's set in a specific context. At the end of this chapter, Jesus will be entering into Jerusalem, so He has now come to the culmination of His earthly ministry and the final week of His life before the crucifixion. His disciples, we're told in the very first verse that we're going to read, are misguided in their expectations about what is going to happen in Jerusalem. So Jesus pauses to explain to them what their attitude ought to be to the events that are about to happen in Jerusalem, and especially how they are to conduct themselves after those events happen.
Whenever the Bible begins to teach us about the end it is concerned not to produce in us a preoccupation with speculation about the future but to help us live today. That is exactly what Jesus is doing in this passage. Jesus, in His kindness, is telling the disciples that they’re not going to be leading a victory parade, but instead, their life and ministry are going to be to faithfully serve Him in the face of rejection and in loyalty to serve an absent King. He's teaching them about what is to come in order to help them live day to day. That's what this passage is saying to us as well. I want to use three words to help you build an outline of organization. The three words are expectation, devotion, and disproportion.
The first thing I want you to see in this passage is how Jesus prepares the disciples’ expectation for what is going to happen. Jesus’ message to them is essentially this: expect rejection; anticipate endurance. Notice what He says in the story in verse 14. “His citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’” In this story, Jesus is saying to His disciples, “Don't think that I am going to be embraced by the large body of the children of Israel as the King.” And of course in Jerusalem He is rejected by the mass of the people who are there. By the end of the week, they are all shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Jesus is saying to His disciples, “I'm not calling you to lead a victory parade. I'm calling you to serve faithfully a King who is going to be rejected, and that is going to mean you are going to be rejected.”
Furthermore, He says, “Don't think this is going to be over quickly. This is going to require endurance. Expect rejection; anticipate endurance.” The very reason Jesus tells the story is because the disciples thought this was going to happen quickly. So He tells the story about a man going off to a far country. It's going to take him a long time to get there and a long time to come back. He's bracing His disciples for endurance. The victory parade will come, but it's not here; it's not now.
Secondly, devotion. Notice how the charge from the nobleman to the servants reads. Verse 13: “Engage in business until I come.” And then notice when the nobleman comes back, now a king, verse 15, “He calls those servants back to him that he might know what they had gained by doing business.” Don't get blinded by the details. The big picture is very clear. The servants’ being given a task until their master comes and the picture of rewarding them for doing business are designed to point to their devotion to their king. What they do in business is for the king's benefit and for the king's agenda, and their reward is not going to come from the world. Their reward is going to come from the king.
But the whole point of the whole image is not a message about stewardship. It's a message about the whole of your life. Have you ever taken stock of your life and asked yourself, “What am I living for? What do I really care about?” Jesus is saying here to His disciples, “You are to live life not for yourselves but for Me, for God, and for His kingdom. That is where your reward and your happiness come from.” Jesus is telling a story about devotion here. “Be about My business,” He's saying.
Third and finally, disproportion. A mina is approximately three months wages of a regular day laborer in Jesus’ time. When the king comes back, the one who was given almost three years’ worth of a day laborer's salary—picture it today, less than a hundred thousand dollars—is given charge over ten cities! One's given less than fifty thousand dollars, and he's given charge over five cities. Do you get the point? The reward is utterly disproportionate to the stewardship that was given to each of the servants.
This is not a good passage for the quid pro quo crowd, you do this and God will do that for you, because the rewards are entirely disproportionate to the labor and the results. That is precisely Jesus’ point because when the wicked servant says to the king, “You’re a hard man. You take what you didn't deposit; you reap what you don't sow,” look at what Jesus has the king saying back to him in verse 22. Understand that, when he says this, he says this ironically. He's not accepting the judgment of the wicked servant. “I condemn you with your own words. You knew, did you, that I was a severe man? Really? If I'm a severe man and I'm working for me, I'm at least putting that money in the bank. I'm not burying it in a handkerchief.” The servant acted utterly irresponsibly and blames it on the hardness of this king.
Now Jesus is doing something very interesting there because there are a lot of us who are tempted to look at God and say, “God, You’re hard. You've put me in a tough place. I haven't gotten what I deserve.” Jesus is wanting every true disciple to look at that and say, “That is ridiculous. He is disproportionately generous in the way that He rewards. He is not hard and severe, because if He were, we’d all be in trouble.” Jesus is holding up that disproportionate reward and saying, “You may go through this life and experience rejection and disappointment, but there is a reward that you cannot even comprehend, and that reward allows you to turn outward and, instead of being all tied up about what you haven't been given now, you just give and serve.”
You see, what Jesus teaches about the end times has everything to do with how we live now, and how we live now will matter then. I wonder if you’re investing your life into the kingdom. I'm wondering if you really believe how disproportionately generous He is. That's why Jesus said these things to the disciples; you can't live the way that Jesus asks you to live as a disciple unless you live by faith. I'm not doing this because of some faint hope of pie in the sky by-and-by. I'm doing this because I believe what Jesus says here: that God is generous and that His reward will be far more generous than anything that I can get in this world. And it makes life worth living no matter what.