Bible treehuggercomContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary really want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? I wonder.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 19:11-19

The Parable of the Ten Minas

11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants,[a] he gave them ten minas,[b] and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant![c] Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

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Because there is much to write about the Parable of the Ten Minas, the first half is covered in this post and next week’s will address the second half.

When Jesus related this story, He and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, having left Jericho where He stayed with — and blessed — Zacchaeus, the vilified tax collector (Luke 19:1-10).

It is useful to keep in mind the atmosphere which must have surrounded our Lord at this time. The Pharisees expected Him to go to the city for Passover, and the disciples thought that He would establish the Jewish kingdom there (verse 11). Even passersby would have anticipated something dramatic, but not in the way events unfolded.

Matthew Henry’s commentary explains:

Note, Even good men are subject to mistakes concerning the kingdom of Christ, and to form wrong notions of it, and are ready to think that will immediately appear which is reserved for hereafter.

John MacArthur says:

And as much as the liberals and the new emerging church people would like us to believe that Jesus came to fix the social institutions…they’ve got it absolutely wrong. And in fact, if He did come to do that, He failed totally. But next time, next time when He does come back, He comes back with the right to rule, He comes back with a rod of iron, He comes back to establish a Kingdom, He comes back to fix everything, including the environment.

Jesus told this story on the way from Jericho to Jerusalem. It resembles the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, however, MacArthur states that the two parables are different. The Parable of the Ten Minas appears only in Luke’s Gospel.

If it appears to be an odd story to us, Jesus based it on an actual potentate whose rule of Judea had been relatively recent (verse 12). Therefore, His disciples would have thought of this ruler, Archelaus, who had a palace built in Jericho as well as aqueducts in the region.

Archelaus was one of Herod the Great’s three sons. After Herod the Great’s death, his territory was divided into three parts — one for each son. However, although they ruled over their lands from the start, they still had to seek official permission from Rome to continue doing so.

MacArthur tells us that Archelaus was not a nice man:

when his father died, he took the rule. And wanting, as kings often do, establish his power and his authority and elevate the fear of the people and intimidate them, the first thing he did was at the first Passover after he had ascended to this throne, he slaughtered three thousand Jews. He was not trying to endear himself. Politics was different in those days. He was trying to terrify the people. He slaughtered three thousand of them. The people hated him, despised him and had every right to. He was wicked and murderous.

The time came for him, and it was necessary that he had to go to Rome. He had to go to Rome to receive the official imprimatur of Caesar on his right to rule. He did that. He went to Rome soon after he had ascended to the throne, his two brothers also made the same trip to get their official approval from Rome as well, and came back and ruled. But when Archelaus went, the people detested him so greatly that they sent a delegation, that they sent a group of people as representatives of the popul[ace] of Judea trailing him all the way to Rome …

So they tried to prevent him from being king by sending a delegation to Rome to stop Caesar from doing it. They couldn’t. He came back. He was king and he did rule. That’s the familiar history that everybody knew on which Jesus builds his story about a nobleman who went to a higher king to receive the right to rule his own people. Most of the citizens hated him, didn’t want him to be king over them. He came back, he was king and he dealt with the people on the basis of how they had dealt with him. That’s the story.

However, whilst Jesus used this context to enable the disciples to understand the story, He was referring to Himself as the ruler. Note verse 12: the ruler must leave his people in order to receive his kingdom, then he will return. Jesus is using this as an analogy for His ascension into heaven and His eventual return to judge all of us.

This is also a parable about grace — ten minas among ten servants (verse 13). One mina represented a considerable sum of money: three months’ salary. Just as this is a generous sum for a ruler to give his servants, so is God’s grace — unmerited but abundant to us undeserving sinners.

The ruler instructed the servants to engage in ‘business’ during his absence: increase his riches. For our Lord, we are to use His abundant grace in order to spread the Gospel message and glorify Him in our lives.

Verse 14 refers to Archelaus but in a deeper sense to the widespread rejection of our Lord by His own people. This is still true today. MacArthur unpacks this (emphases mine):

You may reject Christ, you may hate Christ, He owns you. He is sovereign over you. You may be an atheist, you may be a Muslim, you may be a Buddhist, Christ owns you. You live in His country for He made this world, it is His and He made you. By creation, He owns you … I think this is a message that people don’t quite understand. They think that if they reject Christ, then Christ has nothing to do with them. You reject Christ and He has everything to do with you. You accept Christ and He has everything to do with you. You do nothing with Christ and He has everything to do with you. You are in His world. You live in His country over which He is sovereign, over which He has full authority. Every knee bows to Him. Every knee…Philippians 2. You can reject Him, you can ignore Him, but He owns you.

When the ruler returned (verse 15), he asked his ten servants to account for their activity whilst he was away: how well they managed the minas he had given them. Similarly, on the day of judgement our Lord will assess how well we used the gift of His grace. Did we spread the Gospel through a good example and worthy lives, glorifying Him? Those who are ordained or members of religious orders would ask themselves if they won souls for Christ by faithfully preaching and teaching Scripture as well as by wise, holy counsel to their congregations or their students.

In the parable, the servants account for their investment of their minas. The first servant made ten minas from one mina (verse 16). The ruler rewarded this man with authority over ten cities ‘because you have been faithful’ (verse 17). The second servant had increased his return by only half that amount (verse 18), therefore, the ruler gave him authority over five cities (verse 19).

The rest of the parable continues next week.

In the meantime, based on the rewards the ruler gives his servants, Henry’s commentary has this statement:

This intimates that there are degrees of glory in heaven every vessel will be alike full, but not alike large. And the degrees of glory there will be according to the degrees of usefulness here.

In his estimation, clergymen will be more elevated than tradesmen because their vocation is all about Christianity. I’m not so sure, given the number of clergy today who lead their congregations into error which, if persistent and serious, could condemn them to hell. A pious tradesman who is honest with his customers and ensures his family loves the Lord and their neighbours is surely likely to receive a greater reward.

Regardless, it is important for us to bear fruits of faith. Fruits of faith come from divine grace and are not the same as good deeds — doing something for the sake of doing it — which are sometimes products of legalistic religion. Fruits of faith come from a grace-driven yearning to love God and our fellow man.

Henry usefully points out that every fruit of faith is accomplished thanks to God’s grace alone:

Note, God must have all the glory of all our gains not unto us, but unto him, must be the praise, Psalm 115:1. Paul, who gained the ten pounds, acknowledges, “I laboured, yet not I. By the grace of God, I am what I am, and do what I do and his grace was not in vain,1 Corinthians 15:10. He will not speak of what he had done, but of what God had done by him, Romans 15:18.

I pray we use divine grace to His greater glory in all that we do, remembering that it was not we but He who worked through us.

Next time: Luke 19:20-27

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