Sermon , Day of Fulfillment, November 24, 2019.
11 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. 12 He said: ‘A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a] “Put this money to work,” he said, “until I come back.”
14 ‘But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, “We don’t want this man to be our king.”
15 ‘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.
16 ‘The first one came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.”
17 ‘“Well done, my good servant!” his master replied. “Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”
18 ‘The second came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned five more.”
19 ‘His master answered, “You take charge of five cities.”
20 ‘Then another servant came and said, “Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 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.”
22 ‘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? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?”
24 ‘Then he said to those standing by, “Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.”
25 ‘“Sir,” they said, “he already has ten!”
26 ‘He replied, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.”’
It sounds like they thought this was it. They thought that Jesus would stroll into the city and take over the place without any struggle and simply be crowned king forever and all their troubles would be over. That is what Luke tells us here.
Jesus 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.
Obviously, there was much more to the kingdom appearing than they wanted to hear. There was going to be struggle. There were going to be risk. They would have to work hard with him. His kingdom would not come easy.
I am not sure we really want to hear him say the same thing to us at the moment, or ever! It would be so much easier being a church and being a Christian if it was easy!
But, like last week, we hear that a life of faith is not easy and God’s kingdom, even though wonderful and life-giving, is not always received that way. In fact it is resisted most of the way.
So, what are we to do? What are we supposed to be doing as God’s people as the coming of his kingdom slowly occurs?
He tells us in a parable….
A rich — and soon to be powerful — nobleman goes on an extended trip to be crowned king. This often happened in societies before ours. It happened in this society. Before Jesus, both Herod the Great and one of his sons, Archelaus, travelled all the way to Rome to get the nod of approval to be rulers over this community. It is what a soon-to-be king nobleman must do.
In the parable, most of his people hate this soon to be king. They even send word ahead to his entourage that they oppose this coronation (his becoming king) (Luke 19:14).
But the King keeps on coming! In his absence, this nobleman assigns three of his servants the task of investing his money in the community he will soon rule.
This would be tough; a bit of a test of their faith in him, for sure. Will they take the calling of their king to get their community ready for him and his new rule? Will they invest wisely in things and people to make his rule effective and the community more ready to receive him?
Two of them take the risk of investing their master’s money. They do so wisely. They earn handsome returns. They earn different returns. This seems totally fine with the soon to be king. The test is not really about the amount of return for effort but about the effort before he returns.
Despite a hostile community and any personal cost, they took the personal and financial risk to do the king’s work. They display the willingness to follow his instructions, use their heads and keep the vision of this king’s rule at the forefront of their activities in the community.
A third worker does none of this. He says he was afraid to take the risk.
I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man.
He does not know the king. He is scared of the king. So he puts the money in a safe place. It earned no return.
Finally, the nobleman returns. He is already crowned king of the whole territory. He comes to the capital city for his coronation.
He rewards the two servants who invested in the community for his purposes. He gives them even more responsibility. He chastises the servant who kept the money safe but unproductive. Then he commands that all who opposed him be killed in his presence. They have made their choices about him. Their choices obviously have consequences.
So, here’s Jesus, the “nobleman” who is already King, now about to go into his city, Jerusalem, where he is to be crowned king. “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord,” they will shout very soon (Luke 19:38). But then the rejection of his kingdom rule will be present too: “Crucify him!” they will cry (Luke 23:21).
So, there it is; the kingdom welcome and the kingdom rejection; the risk of investing for the king and the inevitable risk of being rejected as king.
One thing is clear, it will not be easy even for the King of all kings to establish his kingly rule among these stiff-necked human beings! Many will receive him with open hearts and find joy and life. Many will reject him, be scared of him, see his rule as a threat. Like the unfruitful manager, many will play it both ways; receiving the what the king gives, but not the king himself; the safe option; the unproductive option.
Makes me ask myself; “Which one am I? Who are we more like?
What gives us courage? What enables us to be like the first two workers who take the risk of investing in the King’s kingdom, despite the reality of risky rejection?
What makes us gladly and freely be fruitful, wise and faith–filled managers of the king’s provisions?
Surely only one thing. Surely only one person; This King! This King of love; the shepherding king, this risen and victorious king. Jesus is what turns our fears to hope, our doubts to joy; our anxiety about the future to opportunity for him to be present and his kingly rule to transform people; his kingdom to appear.
This king is about to show us his character in full, in blood on wood. He will do so for the scared, the prideful, the worried, the oblivious; those rejecting him still, those scared of him still, those who have never received his undeserved acceptance for all their pride and arrogance and wayward chasing after the wind.
We know this king. He is a servant king; a king of love our shepherd is whose goodness never fails.
He is calling us to invest, take the risk, freely give and trust him for the outcome. He always is. He is calling us to take up the responsibilities of kingdom citizenship, like the first two investors. He is calling us from spectator to team member.
Two things are true today:
- Having Jesus as our crowned king requires working toward his purposes in whatever field of work we do and whatever relationships we have.
- If we trust Jesus as king, we must expect to lead risky lives. The servants who invested the master’s money faced the risk of being attacked by those around them who rejected the master’s authority. And they faced the risk of disappointing their master by making investments that might lose money.
Ducking for cover is the one action Jesus condemns in the parable. The servant who tries to avoid risk is singled out as unfaithful.
So, here we are at the end of a year and the beginning of a new one in God’s kingdom grace.
We believe the Lord is calling us make a major investment in two parts in 2020:
- Being a sending church – a community invested in the business of sending and supporting people to plant new communities within our own community and beyond; communities open to and connected with non-church or de-churched people; the ‘Orphans of God’
- Significantly redeveloping our facilities to make them more able to help us work toward the goal of relating to more people in more ways, more often.
This king takes the risk with and for us. He risked everything for us on that deathly cross. He still does.
Will respond the same as we be faithful like the two investors who invested what they had been given despite an un-guaranteed reception or certain results, because we trust him to provide?
And this is what I am wondering the most: are we like the first and second servants in that the King is now calling us to take greater responsibility; to manage ten cities or five cities because he has noticed that in the past, with faith in his provision and commitment to his kingdom coming, we took the risks in an unknown environment with unknown outcomes? He sees that we have been doing this in the past and now rewards us with greater responsibility?
This new year and these new challenges we face will always require two things
- Hard work together, and
- Some risk together.
That is what faith is – trust and commitment in real time. Faith in this King of kings always is these things.
“I tell you, says Jesus to his church, “to everyone who has faith in me, more will faith be given”.