Parable of Faithfulness

talents

Luke 19:11-12a Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said:

To fully understand this parable, we need to first understand the background for telling this parable.

  • Jesus had just stayed at the house of Zacchaeus
  • Zacchaeus pledged to give half of his wealth to the poor and restore four-fold if he had received any by accusation.
  • Jesus declares salvation had come to this house.

As the crowd heard these things, they thought that the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Hence, the primary reason for this parable is to clarify that the kingdom of God will not appear immediately and the background for all these is giving to the poor and restoring what was wrongly acquired.

Luke 19:12b A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.

The certain nobleman in this parable is Jesus Christ referring to Himself.

John 8:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

John 18:37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Luke 22:29 “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,

The far country is a reference to Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven for which Christ is the King is not of this world but His servants are in this world. He went to Heaven to receive the kingdom from the Father.

Luke 19:13 “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’

The nobleman called 10 of his servants and gave 10 minas to do business till he comes.

What did Christ gave to His servants which He instructed them to do business with it till He returns? To understand this, we need to sneak peek into verse 17 which reveals it.

Luke 19:17 … because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities…

Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

As we see in the above verses, God gives authority over many things if we are faithful or being just to Him in the least.

Matt 24:45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.

Rev 2:24-26 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, … But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations

If we are faithful by doing what He commanded in His absence, He will make us ruler over many things. This is exactly what Jesus is teaching us in this parable.

Luke 19:14 “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’

His citizens is a reference to Christ being the king of the Jews and their rejection of Christ being their ruler.

John 19:12,15 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” … But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Jesus is using this parable to show that He will be rejected by His own people from being their king.

Luke 19:15-20 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.

It is important for us to not being carried away with the details since the same parable was also mentioned in the gospel of Matthew with the same core message yet the details are slightly different.

Luke 19:11-27 Matt. 25:14-30
nobleman man
went to far country to receive a kingdom no mention of receiving a kingdom
citizens hated the nobleman not mentioned
10 servants 3 servants
10 minas to each (equally distributed) 5 talents to first servant, 2 talents to second servant and 1 talent to third servant (according to each ability)
instructed to do business with minas till their master returns no direct instruction mentioned but implied when their master settles account with each servant and expects them to have done business.
first servant earned 10 minas, second earned 5 minas and another came earned nothing. first servant gained 5 talents, second gained 2 talents and the third gained nothing.
wicked servant hid his mina in his handkerchief wicked and lazy (also referred as unprofitable) servant hid his talent in ground.

The above differences are shown for the purpose of not getting carried away in details of what mina or talent means because both the gospel authors explained the same parable with the same core message with differing details. It is possible Jesus might have explained the same parable with different details on a different occasion.

Just as the nobleman expects his servants to be faithful in what He had provided them in his absence, Christ also gave us His instructions and commandments to follow before He left to Heaven to receive His kingdom from the Father.

Luke 19:21-26 ‘For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. ‘Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ (“But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

One of the servants didn’t do anything with the mina or talent provided. The servant wasn’t faithful but disobeyed his master by not doing any business with what was provided to him. As we see the parable in both gospels, it is least expected that he put the money in the bank to get some interest, yet the wicked servant disobeyed and did nothing. Christ also expects us to obey Him and bear fruits before He left this world (John 15:2) and will settle accounts when He returns.

Rev 22:11-12 “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

The least Christ expects from us is not least obedience. On the contrary, complete obedience and faithfulness on the little things which He instructed. If we aren’t faithful on the little instructions He gave before He left to Heaven, how can Christ expect us to be faithful on the many things He promised to give us when He returns?

Luke 19:27 ‘But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’

The last verse on the parable is slaying of the nobleman’s enemies.

Rev 19:21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Just as the slaying of the nobleman’s enemies, Christ will kill His enemies with the sword that proceeds from His mouth.

Just as Luke provides a background of how Zacchaeus giving half of his wealth to the poor and restoring fourfold all of his wrong accusation, Matthew concludes with how Son of man will come in His glory and separate the righteous from the cursed (Matt 25:31-46). Only those who feed the hungry, give the thirsty a drink, take stranger in, cloth the naked among the least of Christ’s brethren (as in Matt 12:49-50) will inherit the kingdom of Heaven.

Conclusion

This parable is to clarify when Jesus spoke that the kingdom of God will not appear immediately as the Jews were expecting and the background is becoming righteous by giving to the poor and restoring what was wrongly acquired. The least Christ expects from us is not least obedience. On the contrary, complete obedience and faithfulness on the little things He instructed. If we aren’t faithful on the little instructions He gave before He left to Heaven, how can Christ expect us to be faithful on the many things He promised to give us when He returns?