11 The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. 12 He said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. 13 Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’ 14 But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king.’
15 After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were. 16 The first servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’
17 ‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’
18 The next servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.’
19 ‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities.’
20 But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. 21 I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’
22 ‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, 23 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
24 Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’
25 ‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!’
26 ‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 27 And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king — bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.’”
We have seen this parable before in Matt. 25. Well, sort of. Luke makes some significant changes to the story. Instead of a master and servants in a household-estate setting, this story is about a man on his way to becoming a king. It is no coincidence that Luke placed this parable just before Jesus’ triumphal entry. Jesus is on his way to becoming king and telling a story about a man on his way to becoming king. Don’t miss that. This version of the parable must be understood in its kingdom-now context. (As opposed to Matthew’s, where the focus is about the long delay between the master leaving and returning; in Luke he becomes king rather quickly.)
There are also significant differences with the servants. Matthew has three who are assigned different amounts of money to work with, though all are large sums. The first is given about $4 million, the second about $1.6 million, and the last $800,000. The first and second doubled their amounts and are rewarded with rest in the master’s ‘happiness,’ the third buried his and is cast out and punished. In Luke, there are 10 servants, who are each assigned about $10,000. We are only given the results for three. The first grew his assigned amount to $110,000 and the second grew his to $60,000. Both are rewarded in the form of political assignments – they are given leadership positions based on the stewardship they showed to what they were given. The third hid his $10,000 in a napkin. He is not punished, but he is also not placed in leadership in the new king’s kingdom. He is a cautionary tale for those “who do nothing.”
So, what’s the point? Luke starts this by telling us that the people were expecting the kingdom to begin right then. This parable is how Jesus responded to that expectation. Unlike Matthew’s where the basic message is “I’m going away right now and will be gone a long time” – in other words a “not yet” message, in Luke Jesus is basically saying, “Yes, the kingdom begins right now and here’s what it is going to look like. I am taking up my kingship now and defeating my enemies. And then I am going to put some of you in charge of helping me run this new kingdom, not based on different talent levels, but based on your diligence in working with what you have to produce kingdom results. I expect you to grow the kingdom. I expect you to advance the kingdom. It begins right now. Now get to work.”
When you think about it, the two versions of this parable we have are a perfect picture of the already – the kingdom is here now, and the not yet – the end is not here but is coming. Keep working with what you have at hand. Keep growing the kingdom. The king is here. The king is near. Let the kingdom advance.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.