Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program


Today I want to study with you a very instructive parable spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is found in the gospel of Luke chapter 19 from verses 11 through 27. It has much to teach us about the kingdom of God. Let us read.

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. He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them 10 minas or 10 pounds, depending on which translation you read. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ 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. The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I 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.’ 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? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be a king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

Now there is much of prophetic significance in this parable. There are four major things. One, the nature of the kingdom and, two, the timing, that is, when will the kingdom of Old Testament prophecy come; three, the interim period between the travel to the distant country and, four, the return.

First of all the nature of the kingdom. This is established by the expectation of the people in verse 11 and confirmed by the body of the parable itself. What did the people understand that the kingdom of God was supposed to be? We read that the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. They certainly did not believe this meant the church. The numerous Old Testament prophecies concerning the kingdom were quite clear and very explicit.

What was the expectation of the prophets and of the people to whom the Word was spoken? Obviously they expected a literal kingdom of Israel here on the earth. They expected the Son of David to rule over Israel on David’s throne. They expected righteous government, perfect justice for all and that this Son of David would also rule over all the Gentile nations.

The prophets spoke of a time of universal peace with all nations worshipping the Lord because the earth would be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. There would even be changes in nature with much of the curse being lifted. The lion would eat straw like the ox.

Now there is absolutely no hint or suggestion in these prophecies that this kingdom would be only a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men. Certainly the kingdom would be spiritual, but it would also be social, political and economic. It would govern every aspect of man’s existence. This was their expectation of the kingdom and Luke here tells us that they expected all this to appear at once.

There are some today who teach that these people misunderstood the nature of the kingdom. If that were true, it seems strange that Jesus did not correct them. I believe that in giving this parable, Jesus confirmed them in their understanding of the nature of the kingdom. It was their timing that was off. They expected the kingdom to appear at once. Jesus is confirming that the kingdom was certainly going to appear, but not at this time. There would be a long delay before the kingdom should appear. This parable confirms that the appearing of the kingdom of Old Testament prophesy must await the return, the second coming of Christ the King.

So let’s look at the timing. When will the kingdom appear? In the parable it says a man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. Now in the parable and in the reality of the political events of Judea, it is obvious that the king cannot exercise any authority in his kingdom during his absence, but only upon his return. And the obvious application is that the man of noble birth is our Lord Jesus Christ. The distant country is heaven. The return is obviously the second coming of Christ which has not yet taken place. It is upon his return that the king begins to execute his authority. And so here in this parable Jesus is using well known political events in Judea to illustrate, one, the nature of the kingdom, two, the long delay before the kingdom would appear, three, what would take place during the absence of the king and, four, what would take place when the king returns.

Judea, you see, was subject to the Romans who had conquered Judea some 60 years before Christ. Judea was, however, governed by Jews who held the government under the Romans. Rome required that the prince or king desiring such position should travel to Rome to receive his authority from the emperor himself. This actually occurred several times. Herod the Great, Archelaus, son of Herod the Great and Agrippa the Younger who was a grandson of Herod the Great each in their time had to make that journey. This was well known by the people.

Then we see the rejection of the king because it says his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, “We don’t want this man to be our king.” He was made king, however.

Now this actually happened in the case of Archelaus. When he went to Rome to obtain confirmation of the title which had been left to him by his father Herod the Great, the Jews, knowing his extreme evil—we hear of that in Matthew 2:22—sent an embassy of 50 men to Rome. Can you imagine? Not an embassy of two or three, but they sent 50 men to Rome to beg Caesar Augustus not to confirm the title of him, but they were rejected. He received the kingdom and reigned in Judea in the place of his father. This was well known by the people and Jesus is using this event to illustrate the kingdom of God.

Just so did the Jews reject the kingship of Jesus. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, “Take him away. Take him away. Crucify him.” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked? “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priest answered.

And then not only the Jews, but the nations of this earth also reject Christ. Psalm chapter two verse one to nine says: Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed one. Let us break their chains, they say, and throw off their fetters. Just so do the nations of the earth regard the Word of God and the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ today. They do not want to be ruled by him. But the one enthroned in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.” And in verse seven the King, the Lord Jesus Christ speaks and he says, “I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to me, ‘You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter. You will dash them to pieces like pottery.’”

Third we look at the period of time between the travel to the far country and the return. Verse 13. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. “Put this money to work,” he said, “until I come back.”

Now travel in those days was very slow. The journey to Rome and back would require weeks and even months. In the parable it is clear that the nobleman was absent for a very long time, long enough for his servants to invest the money that he had given them and secure a good return. Now the servants are given work to do in the absence of the king. They are to look after his affairs until he returns. And they are doing so in a very hostile environment. The people around him did not want him to rule over them. But nevertheless his servants must look after his affairs while he is gone.

Just so did our Lord commission the twelve and us through them. He said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” So he promised to be with his disciples as he is with us now through his Holy Spirit as we carry out that commission that was given to the apostles.

No after the resurrection of Jesus the apostles thought that surely now the kingdom would come. This is shown by their eager question in Acts chapter one. They asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?”

Jesus answered that it was not for them to know the times or dates. The obvious implication is that he would restore the kingdom to Israel, but not at this time. Instead, now at this time he assigned duties to them, work to be done during his absence. He will send the Holy Spirit to enable them to look after his affairs until he returns.

So, thus begins the Church age, the building of the Church that Jesus had promised in Matthew 16:18.

Now this is no accident. It is no afterthought. This was the eternal purpose of God which he had kept secret from ages past but is now revealed. That is from Ephesians three verse three to six and verses nine to 11 and Colossians 1:26. In future lessons we would like to examine those. But now during this time, the time of the Church, the nation of Israel, this time during the absence of the king, the nation of Israel realizes a hardening of heart.

In Romans 11 verses 25 to 27 he says, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited. Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved as it is written, ‘The deliverer will come from Zion. He will turn godlessness away from Jacob.’ And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

So this temporary hardening of Israel’s heart is a mystery. That is, it was not revealed to nor anticipated by the Old Testament prophets. So this Church age which has now lasted 2000 years was not prophesied. It was not anticipated by the Old Testament prophets because God did not reveal it to them. But he has now revealed it to us.

And in Matthew 13 Jesus gave seven parables to describe and illustrate the nature of the kingdom of God during this Church age, the period between his first coming and his second coming. In verse 11 Jesus said that these parables were mysteries of the kingdom of heaven which he explained in verse 36 as things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

These parables describe present day conditions that are the absolute opposite of the kingdom prophecies of the Old Testament such as Isaiah nine verses six and seven, Isaiah 11:1-12 and many, many others. The prophecies portray the kingdom of absolute righteousness, the iniquity is suppressed. The knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. But these parables, especially the first four, show the opposite. Satan is active, snatching the Word away from people, deceiving, corrupting and the sons of iniquity vastly outnumber the children of God.

Therefore these parables are not the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about the kingdom. They describe our Church age in which the Lord’s people are looking after his affairs in a hostile world and waiting for their Lord’s return. It is upon his return that the kingdom appears.

Then, number four is the return. The first thing he does upon his return is to meet with his servants and give them their rewards. Matthew 16:27 the Lord Jesus said, “The Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”

Ephesians 6:8: ‘Because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does’.

And in Revelation 22:11 Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon. My reward is with me and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

So in the giving of his rewards, he sets up the administration of his kingdom. His faithful servants are rewarded with authority in the kingdom. Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of 10 cities.

And the Lord promised us in Revelation 2:26 to 27: To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He will dash them to pieces like pottery. Now that is a promise to us, children of God, his Church today.

Then after setting up the administration of his kingdom, he now begins to execute his authority. He begins to rule. And the first thing he does, he executes those who had rejected his authority. He says, “These enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and kill them in front of me.”

This was envisioned by Enoch in Jude 14 to 18.

The Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Also in Revelation 19:11-21: I saw heaven open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called faithful and true. With justice he judges and makes war. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God almighty.

So, thus begins the mighty reign of Christ over the nations of the earth and so is fulfilled both the Old Testament and New Testament prophecies. The examples are Isaiah 9:67. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. The government will be on his shoulders. He will be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on forever. The zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this.

And then we have already read also Isaiah 11 verses one to 12 which describes again that period. And in Revelation 20 verses four to six it says: I saw thrones on which those were seated who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony for Jesus and because of the Word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image. They had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ 1000 years. Thus, the rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1000 years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for 1000 years.

This parable in Luke 19 sets forth the whole panorama, the period from the first coming of Christ through his ascension into heaven, the present Church age and finally his long anticipated return, the return of Christ when he returns in glory and shall rule the nations of this earth in righteousness for 1000 years.

-Robert Garrett, lives in Louisville, KY and goes to  Zimbabwe to do  mission  work twice a  year.  He was  born  there when it was  called  Rhodesia, and  his family has  been involved   in  missions there  since  1931; Robert since  about  1960