John T. Willis

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jesus' Parable of the Pounds--Luke 17:11-27

The account of the travel or journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, where the Jewish leaders and their followers will crucify him, in the Gospel of Luke extends from Luke 9:51 to Luke 19:27. This whole account begins with the words: "When the days drew near for him [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." (Luke 9:51). The last paragraph in this account is a record of Jesus' Parable of the Ten Pounds in Luke 19:11-27. This prepares the hearers for the kingly or royal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and to enphasize to his audience that the second coming of Jesus Christ will not be immediate, but will come in God's own chosen time for the future. This paragraph falls into three parts. I. A Nobleman gives his command to Ten of his Servants. Luke 19:11-15. a. Luke says that while the audience with Jesus was listening to the interchange between Jesus and Zacchaeus and the grumbling of the people who heard this (Luke 19:1-10), Jesus told a parable because he was near Jerusalem, and because the audience assumed that the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Apparently, Jesus was still in Jericho, and was preparing to climb 3,300 feet from Jericho 800 feet below sea level to Jerusalem 2500 feet above sea level in a very brief geographical area in Israel. One cannot help but wonder why these people assumed that the kingdom of God would appear IMMEDIATELY. Throughout many centuries, numerous individuals and groups have declared that the kingdom of God will appear immediately. Apparently this means the second coming of Jesus Christ on planet earth. This concept has not happened yet. 19:11. b. Jesus begins a parable by describing a "nobleman" and "ten slaves." This nobleman went to a distant country "TO GET ROYAL POWER FOR HIMSELF AND THEN RETURN." This prepared the audience that Jesus will die on the cross and go into heaven to become king and then return at his second coming. 19:15 states that this "nobleman" did receive royal power and returned to speak to his slaves. The role of such a king is that of a vassal king subservient of the suzerain king. 19:12. c. The nobleman first summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. The Greek word for "pound" is mina, which was about three months of wages for a laborer. A mina is one sixtieth of a talent, thus approximately $25 to $30 in American money in 2013 A. D. This nobleman empowered his slaves to be agents to trade in the name of the nobleman in the Palestinian financial system of that day. The sum of one mina for each slave is a pittance. The nobleman commands each slave to "do business with these minas" without specifying the amount the nobleman expected. 19:13. d. When the nobleman departed, the citizens of his country HATED him and sent a delegation after him, declaring that they do not want this nobleman to rule over them. This prepares the audience for the hostile behavior of the Jewish people in Jerusalem who arrested and crucified him. 19:14. e. In spite of this opposition, the nobleman received royal power, returned to his town, and summoned his slaves to discover what they had gained by trading. These slaves are obviously the followers or disciples of Jesus. 19:15. 2. Three of the Slaves of the Nobleman give the Report of their Gain. Luke 19:16-24. a. The first slave came forward to the nobleman and said, YOUR pound has made 10 pounds more. The nobleman commended him, saying, "Well done." You have been TRUSTWORTHY in a VERY SMALL THING, therefore, take charge of TEN CITIES. It would be a mistake to attempt to determine WHO this slave might be or the TEN CITIES over which he would rule. Remember, this is a parable, not a historical narrative. 19:16-17. b. The second slave came forward to the nobleman and said, YOUR pound has made five pounds. The nobleman commended him saying, Rule over FIVE CITIES. 19:18-19. c. The third slave came forward to the nobleman and said, I wrapped up your pound in a piece of cloth, giving the explanation or excuse that he was afraid of the nobleman because he was a harsh man to take what he did not deposit and reap what he did not sow. The nobleman condemned him as a WICKED slave, and rebuked him for not putting the nobleman's money into the bank so the nobleman could collect it with interest. This principle of lending money with interest appears in Exodus 22:24; Leviticus 25:36-37; Deuteronomy 23:20-21. Then the nobleman told his bystanders to take the pound or mina of this third slave and give it to the slave who has ten pounds. This third slave was "wicked" because of his disobedience. His problem was the he was not productive. 19:20-24. 3. Jesus rebukes the Bystanders and His Enemies. Luke 19:25-27. a. The bystanders of the nobleman complain that the first slave already has ten pounds. Jesus replies that thee is an important principle in this situation: All those who have, more will be given; while those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. This is the way God deals with people. God expects people to use the generous bounty God has given them to work vigilantly. When this happens, God will add extra, additional, surprising bounty given by God to the good slave. 19:25-26. b. Jesus has enemies. When his enemies HATE him and attempt to overthrow his royal power, Jesus brings them before his presence and punish them accordingly. Jesus commanded his slaves to "slaughter his enemies in his presence." This is very harsh language, which many people will reject. But this is what Jesus taught. The point is that sin, rebellion against God, hostility to Jesus and his faithful servants is VERY SERIOUS, and when the enemies of God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord become hardened, God will punish them severely throughout all eternity. 19:27. All this sets the stage for the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem to declare himself as King and to endure arrest, hostility, and crucifixion on the cross. Share YOUR insights and concerns and fears and encouragements with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis