PUT THIS MONEY TO WORK
Key Verse 19:13
““So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’”
Today Jesus gives his disciples a high level lesson on spiritual investments and financing. Jesus uses key words, like “deposit” and “interest.” Easy practical terms we can understand and carry over to our spiritual life. So move over Jim Cramer, who is the supposed “guru” of the famous investing show Mad Money. He is wrong almost half of the time about investments anyway. We are going to learn real, accurate, investing advice today from Jesus who has infinite knowledge and wisdom. Through this passage we learn if we live a spiritually lazy life, we will have very little or no profit for God’s investment in us. But if we make an effort and invest our lives properly, we can please God and receive a great reward. Your life is like God’s investment at work. Let’s learn from Jesus how we can make good investments in God’s kingdom, and we will be richly blessed and rewarded.
Part I, Jesus gives a command – Put this money to work
At this time crowds were gathered around Jesus listening to what he taught. This was right after he befriended Zacchaeus the tax collector, in the previous passage. Jesus made this lonely, selfish outcast his friend and would soon even visit him at his home! Something no one else wanted to do – to be seen with “that guy” Zacchaeus. Like high school students who do not want to sit with misfits at the lunch table because they are afraid to lower their social status. But the Messiah made Zacchaeus his friend, because he came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10) This crowd was very engaged and tuned in to what would happen next, there was a sense that something climactic would happen because they were approaching Jerusalem. Verse 11 says that while the people were listening, Jesus taught them a parable because the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. They were really wanting the kingdom of God to appear at that moment with much anticipation. Late in the year, each year starting around October people have an expectation and hope for Christmas to arrive. So, increasingly people are decorating their homes earlier and earlier, even right after Halloween. But it doesn’t make Christmas come any sooner. Instead we wind up with all 3 holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas blending together with a strange mix of overlapping decorations and some call it “HallowThanksMas.” It looks kind of strange- some houses with skeletons and ghosts in the front yard and then the next door neighbor has Christmas lights and reindeer. Likewise, the disciples had a premature expectation of the arrival of God’s kingdom, because they wanted it to arrive. Jesus spoke many times about his suffering and death, and resurrection, and specifically said it would happen in Jerusalem. They got the Jerusalem part right, but glossed over the parts about suffering and death that was going to happen first. We too wish we could skip the hard part of any spiritual struggle and get right to the end result we want, automatically. Like we wish we could get in shape without exercise, or we wish we could save money without skipping our daily $5.00 latte which costs us almost $2000 per year (it’s about $1825). So, it’s easy to follow Jesus and hope that he will hear all our prayers when we want him to hear them, and things will always go according to our plans. Each person is longing for the kingdom of God to come to earth in their own unique way. For most the “at once” mindset prevails, wanting it now. Maybe some hope they find the right life partner “at once.” At this time of great expectation and anticipation among the people who wanted to see the kingdom of God, Jesus taught them an important parable. This parable helped clarify some misconceptions and also taught valuable spiritual principles.
In the parable which begins in verse 12, we learn that “a man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.” Here the “man of noble birth” is Jesus. His departure to a distant country is a reference to his crucifixion and death, and ascension into heaven, where he becomes ruler and king. And the “return’ is when Jesus will return during the Second Coming when he in fact will be ruler and judge over all people. The first time Jesus came to this earth was as a servant, and the second time will be as king. However, we see there was a certain group of insurrectionists who sent a delegation with a message, that they do not want him to be their king. They were ready to rebel and did not want to be obedient to him. Not a very wise move! To resist the most powerful king the world has ever seen and ever will see, one who will indeed become king with or without their support. They should have backed down immediately - he is a good king and he would forgive them. But they didn’t back down. They represent the religious leaders who rejected Jesus, and unbelievers in general. Jesus’ kingship is not by a democratic vote, it is by God’s divine power. They tried very hard to resist Jesus, and even tried to kill him but their efforts were very futile and he became absolute ruler and judge over them.
As Jesus continued with his parable he said to the people in verse 13 “So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work’ he said, ‘until I come back.’” Here we can differentiate two kinds of people in this passage, both of whom are subject to the king’s rule. The first kind are those who rebelled against him, and the second are those who serve him willingly whom he calls his “servants.” His servants refer to the disciples and ultimately all believers. What did he do with these servants before he departed? He called them before him and gave them each one mina to invest, telling them “Put this money to work until I come back.” A mina was at that time about 3 months of wages. Here we see this king must have a special relationship with these servants. He trusts them so much with his own money. The king did not ask those who rebelled against him to invest his money, but only his servants. In the show “Shark Tank” many entrepreneurs have the opportunity to win the favor of one of the wealthy investors that host the show, and the entrepreneurs stand before them and present their ideas to make money. The wealthy investors, or “sharks” only invests in the candidates that they like and they ones they believe in. After the candidate is chosen, the investor and the entrepreneur always hug and shake hands and they are so happy as they begin their new partnership. The entrepreneur is so glad they are chosen and they make plans to make a great profit and get rich. What is even more amazing than being chosen on Shark Tank, is God choosing us and investing in us. His calling upon our life is a blessing. This really says a lot about our relationship with God, its like a friendship and partnership doing his work, built on trust. I heard one famous pastor speak about what the important components of a relationship are. He said there are many important components, such as respect, love, commitment, and many others. But the most important component is trust. So what does God entrust us with? A mina. A mina is symbolic of a person’s life. Each person receives a life from God which he entrusts to use for his purposes. He trusts us so much, he simply gives it to us freely, and then afterwards he does not scrutinize us everyday like a taskmaster or overbearing boss. This kind of trusting relationship makes us happier and thankful to serve him. Each person chooses to serve him in different ways, he allows each person to explore their creativity and ability to see how they want to invest their life for Jesus. Many in our ministry serve Jesus through many different ways, through evangelism, Bible teaching, music, serving and making good food so we can have fellowship together. Maybe some of you come just for the good food and fellowship after the service, so thank God for those with amazing cooking ability: Missionaries Anastasia, Mary Kim, Mary Bahn, Joshua, and Nonnos Pizza. God has given each of you one mina and it is up to you to invest it and to serve him. Serving God is fundamental when you believe in him, that is why the believers in this parable are called “servants.” It is not a request, but it is a command. God gave the command to Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 1 verse 28, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” We must be fruitful because it glorifies God and he is pleased with us. Jesus commands us, “Put this money to work, until I come back.” We must ask ourselves, are we doing this?
Part II, “Show King Jesus the Money”
In his parable, Jesus sent for his servants to find out what they had gained with his money. The first one came with a big smile and joyfully reported, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more” (16). It was a 1000% return on investment! The King was greatly pleased and responded, “Well done, my good servant! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities” (17). The King complimented the servants’ work, “Well done,” as well as his character, “my good servant.” How wonderful it is to receive such a compliment from the King! Paul mentions that for those who fight the good fight and finish the race, there is in store the crown of righteousness (2Ti 4:8). John mentions that the faithful will receive a crown of victory (Rev 2:10). Furthermore, the King’s reward was to take charge of ten cities. This is honor and authority, far beyond what we can imagine. The second servant came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned five more” (18). It was a 500% profit. The King didn’t rebuke him for bringing less than the first servant. Rather, he said, “You take charge of five cities” (19). This implies that he received recognition like the first servant, as well as honor and authority, in proportion to what he had earned. Both of these servants worked very hard, but the one who earned 1000% percent interest worked hardest, and he was rewarded more. Practically using our one life and multiplying it means leading others to Christ. Our life can multiply many others can be saved through us. How can we help others know Jesus? We can share the gospel message with them, invite them to Bible study, or even a simple invitation to Sunday service is also a really great way to help them too. Such small practical things. Even this parable says this is a small matter (verse 17), the king is not asking for much from us just a small effort. We may not even know how much of a difference we make in a person’s life by taking a small risk doing these small things. One young man lived a party life style, and really liked a rock n roll band a lot to the point of vulgar idolatry. He lived a party lifestyle thinking he could live vicariously and be like the rock band he worshipped if he acted crazy and wicked like them. He went to every concert and sat in the front, when they threw their cigarettes on the ground he took them home as a souvenir of the concert. But when he came to Bible study he repented of his idolatry and threw his souvenirs, albums, and especially the dirty cigarettes in the garbage can. He decided to give his life to Jesus and went to seminary school, many people could not even believe it. Bible study completely changed his life direction for eternity. It is amazing that we make Jesus rich when we serve him and bear spiritual fruit and lead others to him. But you know what? We also make ourselves very rich too! The proverbial win-win scenario. We win and Jesus wins. Imagine owning ten cities, ten City of Chicago’s, with huge buildings and museums and parks and monuments like The Bean and scenic roads like Lakeshore Drive. This is just a metaphor of how rich God wants to make us. Which is very, very rich! Receiving eternal life is riches beyond comprehension.
The decision to invest our life serving Jesus is a spiritually wise decision. We don’t really know how our lives are multiplied and grow and produce fruit, yet they just do! It is one of the mysteries of the kingdom of God as described in Mark 4:27, Jesus said even while sleeping or awake the seed that was planted is growing and sprouting, yet the man who planted it does not know how it grows. I don’t know how a seed grows, do you? We could probably get a botanist to explain how a seed grows in some scientific terms, but that would only explain the process and not really explain the deeper meaning of how it was created to do that. Similarly when properly invested our lives produce fruit, because God makes it happen. Which is why Jesus, who wrote the code for this entire universe brilliantly uses the metaphor of interest and the growth of money to describe spiritual fruit. There are 7 known wonders of the world that almost are inexplicable to many, the pyramids at Giza are one such wonder of the world. Einstein then expanded upon that and said that compounding interest on money is the 8th wonder of the world, and that “those who understand it earn it, and those who don’t understand it pay it.” This is a principle that makes many people rich, of course that is those who understand it. Many people think that rich people like Bill Gates and Elon Musk shouldn’t be so rich, but they didn’t do anything wrong, they just took advantage of the principle of compounding interest. Their money grew by ridiculous amounts even in their sleep with zero effort. Probably when they are out to lunch for 30 minutes they earned millions of dollars in interest just while they ate their meal. On the other hand many people finance everything they have and pay even 30% interest on a credit card to have a Gucci handbag or the latest gadgets. They are the ones who pay interest. When it comes to eternal life, we need to be spiritually wise and put ourselves on the right side of the equation and be right with Jesus. Then we capitalize on this amazing gift we have of eternal life. It’s right there and it’s being offered to you. We can do so by imitating the good servants in this passage, who put their mina to work. If we are not on the right side of God’s spiritual equation, we pay high high interest rate, for the wages of sin is death. All the pleasures of this world is not worth the price that is to be paid which according to Scripture is the second death.
Then what about the third servant in this passage, what happened when he entered the king’s presence? He 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'" (verses 20-21). What a terrible excuse and even the king called him “wicked” for his laziness! What is worse is he blamed the king! Saying he is a hard man. We learn a lot here about what not to do and what attitude not to have. We should not see God as hard on us, because he judges us by our own words, and will then in turn be hard on us. God is merciful and forgiving. We also should not be cowardly. This man had the opportunity to save many lives and help many people around him who really needed it, an opportunity we all have. Yet he did not help anyone. He was afraid and was calculating and cowardly. There is a saying, “A coward is the brother of a murderer.” These are people who do nothing to help someone even someone who is perishing. They are just watching others perish. Their passiveness may appear neutral and to be a personal choice, but really it is a callous decision. They have no fruit, meaning they helped nobody. Cowardice stems from selfishness. So the king took away his mina and gave it to the one who has 10. Jesus summarized the events pertaining to this servant by saying, “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” (25-26). God deals with us in absolutes, because he is righteous and just. There isn’t a participation award or award for half effort, we are in the spiritual battle and rewarded or we are not, and we gain everything or we lose everything. Finally, at the judgment which happens at the second coming of Christ, Jesus will judge those who rejected him and did not want him to be king over them. Verse 27 is an ominous warning to those who reject Jesus that they will be punished and they will not enter God’s kingdom.
In this passage we learn that Jesus is our Lord and King, he owns our lives, and our lives are his investment. He will come again to judge all people and we want to hear him say to each of us, “Well done my good servant!”