Christ the King Sunday
(The Last Sunday after Pentecost) November 25, 2012
10, 496, 404, 511
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Now as they heard these things, [Jesus] spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”
Dear fellow-redeemed by the blood of God’s own Son:
When I was a young boy I would see my Dad making long work lists every Saturday morning. He always listed and numbered the projects he wanted to get done in the order of importance. This exercise is one way to answer the question: “How important is this, really?”
Each of us answers this question many times a day. Generally, we try to do the most important things first. But we are living in a society that majors in minors. For example, you would agree that teaching children is more important than playing baseball. Yet, Alex Rodriguez is under contract to be paid 121 million dollars by the New York Yankees over the next five years. For that amount of money more than 2,000 teachers could be hired to teach the youth of our country during the same period!
Consider the huge sums of money spent on cosmetics and body building equipment. Many people place a great deal of emphasis on preserving their skin, their hair, and their muscles—all of which perish and decay—more than they place importance on the welfare of their souls which are eternal! It’s easy to major in minors!
So, how are we going to answer the question for ourselves. What is really important for us to be doing in this life? In Matthew 24 Jesus gives us a hint. He says: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). “Being ready” does not mean waiting around for Jesus to come as we might pack our bags and wait around at the bus stop. Jesus says in this parable that being ready means “DOING BUSINESS WHILE I AM COMING.”
The disciples had high hopes that when they got to Jerusalem, their master would set up an earthly kingdom. They were in for a big surprise! Jesus is like the nobleman who “went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.” [v.12] The resurrected and victorious Savior left earth and ascended into Heaven, not to set up the kingdom, but in order to receive the kingdom.
This is what Jesus meant when He said to His disciples, “All power is given to me in Heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). This is what the angel meant when he said to the disciples, “This same Jesus will come again in the same way as You have seen Him go into Heaven.” (Acts 1:11).
This means that, even now, while Christ is returning, He is also ruling the world from Heaven—even if things are not so glorious for His Church on earth. It’s not important that the Christian Church have it “easy” here on earth. What is important is that the Lord is ruling from Heaven right now by means of His Word.
But this Word of forgiveness can be resisted. Jesus teaches this in v. 14. He says that His citizens continued to hate him and said, “We will not have this one to rule over us.” Jesus was of the kingly line of David. Yet the Jews cried out, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). So they crucified the Lord of glory! Even after Christ left the earth, the Jews would not submit to the rule of His Word. Beginning with Stephen, every martyr killed or persecuted by the Jews sent a message to Jesus that they would not be ruled by Him.
Every true disciple of Christ continues to experience hatred for Him and His Word. Soon, sentimental “Christmas-Christians” will gush over the baby Jesus. But they really hate the Christ who says in His Word that their sentiments and their works contribute nothing at all toward their salvation. They really hate the Christ who says that “few” not “all” or even “many” will be saved (cf. Matthew 20:16). They really hate the Christ who says that there are no unimportant teachings in the Bible and that we are to observe all things whatsoever He has taught us in Hs Word (cf. Matthew 28:20). Does such hatred for Christ and His Word intimidate you and cause you to draw back from doing His business in the public arena? What is really important here? Saving our face and honor, or the possibility of saving another soul for the glory of our Savior?
Let’s be encouraged! The power is Christ’s in Heaven and on earth. If our witness is received by another that’s good for that soul. If some choose to be enemies of Christ’s Word, that’s bad for those souls. Jesus tells us that when He returns, He will command His angels to slay those enemies who rejected His gracious rule over them. [v.27]
In spite of the world’s hostility, Jesus rules since all power is given to Him in Heaven and on earth.
Furthermore, Jesus says to us, “ I have given you all you need to carry on my work while I am coming.” The nobleman in the parable gave a piece of money to each of ten servants so that they might carry on his business while he was gone. Likewise, Jesus has left us with His Word so that we may carry on His business of saving sinners while He is coming.
The number ten is a symbolic number of completion indicating that this nobleman left all of his wealth in the hands of his servants. When Christ ascended into Heaven, He left all His spiritual, life-giving wealth in the hands of his servants. He left His powerful Word! He said, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
We are to do business with Christ’s Word. Don’t people speak of the “growth” of their dollars which they have invested in the stock market? In the Book of Acts we read of how the Word of the Lord grew (cf. Acts 6:7, 12:24). God’s Word is a living, mighty thing from Heaven! Through this Gospel-Word, and by no other means, the living God brings dead and condemned sinners to spiritual and eternal life by faith in Christ.
Notice that each of the servants in the parable was given an equal share of the nobleman’s wealth with which to do business. The Gospel-Word is to be used by every disciple of Christ— every one of you! That’s important! Our Lord has given each of us who believe in Him all that we need to carry on His business while He is coming.
Now finally, Jesus says: “I expect to reward you when I come.” When the nobleman had received His kingdom, he returned and called for his servants to tell him what they had gained with his money during his absence. The nobleman expected to reward all of them for their labors.
The first two servants came happily forward. The one said: “Master, your mina has earned ten minas.” The other said: “Master, your mina has earned five minas.” [vv.16,19] These two servants represent all of Christ’s faithful disciples.
Notice that these servants gave the mina all the credit. They take no credit for themselves. So it is with all of Christ’s faithful disciples. The Psalmist said: “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth” (Psalm 115:1). The Apostle Paul said: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Regarding the work of the Reformation, Martin Luther said that he had done nothing, but the Word of God had done it all.
Some of the Lord’s faithful servants will gain much with this Word, like Paul and Luther did, while others will gain less. But the most important point here is that all who actually do business with the Word are considered faithful servants, and they all will be rewarded in Heaven according to God’s grace. What a happy privilege for us poor sinners that such wonderful heavenly rewards may be ours too as we do business with Christ’s Word on earth!
There is also a warning here. The third servant in this parable had a different attitude. He had kept the mina wrapped up in a handkerchief. He never used the mina to gain anything more for his master. On top of that, he blamed the nobleman for not giving him enough with which to work!
This man represents those lazy servants in the outward Christian Church who once received the Word of grace and forgiveness, but no longer value it as highly as they once did. They pay little attention to it themselves, nor do they consider it their special business to share it with others. In their hearts they believe that Christ asks too much of them when He says, “Go preach the Gospel to every creature while I am returning for you.” They do as little as possible and give as little as possible for the spread of the Gospel.
But there are no excuses that are acceptable to God. If the servant in the parable had really loved and respected his master, he would have at least placed his mina in the hands of others who could make it grow. The same is true in the spiritual-business world of the kingdom of Christ. Each one of us has been given the Word of God which makes a person “wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). We may not all be able to preach or teach the Word as called-workers in the church, but we all can gladly support others in the preaching and teaching of it.
We may do this by means of our prayers and our offerings and by the time and money we give in our united efforts to care for our church and property. When you bring your children to our Christian Day School and Sunday School, you are doing what you can to make the Word of Christ grow for their salvation and the greater glory of your dear Savior.
Ask yourselves: How important is all this when compared to my enjoyment of my retirement, my hobbies, my friends, and my pleasures? Jesus says in v. 26 that the one who has His Word and will not do business with it, will lose what he has. If we do not do what we can to invest the Word of salvation with other poor sinners, we will lose the Word of grace for ourselves and our children.
Where are your priorities? What is really important for you to do with the time God has given you in this life? I can’t think of anything more important than doing our Lord’s business while He is coming. Can you? May He mercifully help us all to be ready so that we may be among those servants who shall rule with Him in heavenly glory. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.