What About Heavenly Rewards?

Explore the Bible Series

January 23, 2005

 

Background Passage: Luke 19:1-48

Lesson Passage: Luke 19:12-27

 

Introduction: Shortly after the Lordís retirement to the home of Zacchaeus, Jesus proposed a parable for the consideration of his hearers.Perhaps the moving generosity of the repentant tax collector prompted the Lord to address his audience in this manner.Zacchaeus, rich in the worldís attainments, discovered a new kind of ďwealth.ĒHis reward, so he discovered, was the approval of his blessed Master.

 

I.                   The Occasion of the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11)

A.     The relation to the previous verses:The opening words of verse eleven continue the narrative of events that occurred in Jericho.As Jesus passed through this ancient city, he encountered a man named Zaccheaus, a rich tax collector.Only the Gospel of Luke records this touching story of Christís compassion for this poor sinner, and the Saviorís gracious forgiveness of this manís great sin.†† Again, we see the Lordís insistence on trafficking with notorious sinners (v. 7), and the Savior claimed another trophy of grace in Jericho.Jesus went to the home of Zacchaeus and, while there, the Lord spoke this poignant parable.

B.     Christís proximity to Jerusalem:Luke organized much of his gospel narrative around this notion of Jesusí journey to Jerusalem, and the great story nears its crescendo in these verses.Literally, the Lord was only a few miles from the great city, and, more importantly, the Saviorís redemptive purpose was on the horizon.

C.     The misunderstanding of Jesusí followers:Luke made clear that some of Christís followers misunderstood the Lordís intent.Apparently, they believed that he intended to establish an earthly empire when he reached Jerusalem.This parable corrected their unfortunate misconception.

 

II.                The Nobleman and his Servants (Luke 19:13)

A.     The nobleman, of course, represents the Lord Jesus.This distinguished landowner planned to leave his present location and go to a distant country to receive a kingdom.Though he eventually planned to return, the noblemanís journey would take him far away from his servants and require a great period of time for travel.He would not return soon.In the meantime, the Master gave the servants a certain stewardship.Each servant was entrusted with a sum of money, a mina.This was a substantial amount of money equaling approximately three months wages for a working man.They had one, simple directive, ďDo business till I come.ĒThe master commanded them to seize the opportunity he had graciously given them.

Illustration:This story seems reminiscent of the Exodus.The Lord gave great gifts and clear directions to his people that they should, at the appropriate time, seize Canaan.After several months in the wilderness, the Lord brought his people to Kadesh Barnea, the very threshold of his promise and blessing, and they stood ready to take advantage of the opportunity given to them.What great privilege they enjoyed! The land, by Godís grace and provision, was theirs for the taking.They needed to seize the God-given opportunity to see the matchless blessing and help of the Lord.The task, no doubt, would have its challenges; nevertheless, Jehovah was their hope and help, and he would hold them accountable for their stewardship of their opportunity. Sadly, they did not trust the Lord, and they brought ruin upon themselves by their disobedience.

B.     The ten servants symbolize the Lordís people.The text describes them as servants (slaves), but these servants enjoyed the great bounty and kindness of their sovereign.He entrusted them with a handsome sum of money, and they were to utilize their provision with the expectation that they would give an account of their stewardship when the master returned.

 

 

III.             The Noblemanís Enemies (Luke 19:14)

A.     The citizens hated the master, not the servants.The text makes clear that the citizens aimed their venomous remarks at the nobleman himself.They hated the master, and they determined that they would not acknowledge this manís reign over them.The citizensí distain for the servants was derived from their disregard for the nobleman.Christians often experience the loathing of the enemies of the gospel; yet, saints must remember that ultimately their enemies do not hate them; rather, they detest the Savior and all he represents.

B.     The noblemanís absence seemed to embolden the citizens.They grew brazen in their rebellion only after the master had left for his journey.While he remained in their country, their rebellion seethed, no doubt, under the surface, but when the good man departed for a sojourn in a far country, they grew brave in their assertion that they would not recognize his governance. Rebels are often cowards.

 

IV.              The Faithful Stewards (Luke 19:15-19)

A.     The master, just as he promised, returned from his journey and required that his servants give an account of their labors.Notice that he returned ďhaving received his kingdom.ĒA majestic, royal glory attended his second appearance in the parable.This verse anticipates the glorious return of Christ.Once, the world saw him gentle and lowly; however, when he comes again, all the inhabitants of the earth will observe his splendor, the splendor of a King.

B.     The faithful stewards seemed joyfully to anticipate the masterís return.We find no reluctance in their approach to the Lord.Their accounts of faithful labor do not seem arrogant of self-promoting; rather, they give a straightforward description of their activities. As reward for their selfless labors in the masterís interests, each faithful servant received a generous gift and greater stewardship.Faithfulness in ďlittle thingsĒ brought greater blessing and responsibility (See Matthew 25:21).

 

V.                 The Unfaithful Servant (Luke 19:20-24)

A.     One of the servants appeared before his master, but he had nothing to show for the opportunity the nobleman had afforded him.Instead, the unfaithful man simply returned what had been entrusted to his care.

B.     Verse twenty one reveals the motive for this manís unfaithful and disgraceful behavior.He held hard and unworthy views of his master.He claimed that the nobleman was an austere, severe man; therefore, in fear of his masterís disapproval, the lazy servant hid the money in a handkerchief. Note: ďThe heart of the unconverted man is figured in a very striking manner in this expression.Like Adam and Eve, when they had eaten the forbidden fruit, he is afraid of his Master in heaven, and does not love him.Like the murmuring Israelites in the wilderness, he finds fault with Godís appointments and dealings, and charges him with hardness and injusticeÖ Hard thoughts of God are a common mark of all unconverted people.They first misrepresent him; then try to excuse themselves for not loving and serving him.Ē††† J.C. Ryle

C.     The master responded by taking the stewardís money and giving it to a faithful man (v. 24). The good steward received even more blessing as a reward for his service to the master.

D.     The masterís dealings with the rebellious citizens (v. 27):For a moment, it seemed that the Lord had forgotten the seditious citizens; however, the reader soon discovers that the Lord does not overlook such matters.They, indeed, received the most severe judgment of all.They met with utter destruction, unmixed with mercy.

 

 

Conclusion: This parable teaches the following truths about the Kingdom of God.

  1. The Lord planned to leave his servants for a lengthy period of time, and they were not to lose heart during his absence.
  2. Christ has left his people with a stewardship, and they must be about their Masterís business for as long as he tarries.
  3. The Lord has made ample provision for the stewardship of his servants.Each steward had a generous gift, and they were to diligently increase their masterís interests while he sojourned in a far country.
  4. The Lordís servants may expect opposition from those who do not love the Master.
  5. Faithful servants will receive great approbation and reward from their Master.
  6. Unfaithful men bring upon themselves great shame and spiritual poverty.