May 24, 2020

The Parable of the Pounds

Passage: Luke 19:11-27

In the year 4 B.C., Herod the Great, the king of Israel, died.  Herod’s son, Antipater, had been the heir of all of Herod’s territory until the last few weeks of Herod’s life.  However, just before his death, Herod wrote a will giving the territory of Judea to his other son, Archelaus, instead.  When Herod died, Archelaus seized power immediately.

One of his first acts was overseeing the deaths of 3,000 protestors in the Temple in Jerusalem. Shortly thereafter, Archelaus headed to Rome to secure Caesar Augustus’s endorsement for him to serve as king. The Jewish people sent a delegation of 50 representatives to Rome with additional support from 8,000 Jewish residents of Rome to try to prevent Archelaus from being made king.  Ultimately, Archelaus was given the title Ethnarch rather than King, over Judea.[1]

All of this happened while Jesus was a boy in Nazareth and it was a matter of common knowledge.[2] This historical event is apparently the backdrop of Jesus’ parable regarding a nobleman going away to receive a kingdom.

We should be aware that this parable is the conclusion to Jesus’ teaching as he was traveling to Jerusalem. Luke 9-19 describes this trip from Galilee to Jerusalem. The next passage in Luke is the Triumphal Entry, where Jesus enters Jerusalem. This is his last parable just prior to his last week of earthly life.

Jesus spoke this particular parable (vs. 11) “because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.” They were expecting Jesus to establish his kingdom and to assume the throne when they arrived in Jerusalem. But that was not the plan.

The parable implies that Jesus has to go away before he receives his kingdom. The nobleman gives his servants certain resources and commands them to “occupy till I come” (vs. 13). So the glorious kingdom that the disciples were expecting would not be arriving immediately; it would be postponed. The Jews would not accept him as their king when he arrived in Jerusalem. This is a major teaching here—there would be an interval before Jesus establishes his earthly kingdom.

What is this parable teaching us today? Besides the truth that Jesus’ kingdom will be delayed, this is a parable about faithful stewardship while we await the king’s return. We are to use the resources God gives us to do the master’s will. Some of us will be more productive than others, but all of us should be striving to make the most of what God has given us. And it’s wrong to neglect using our resources for God’s purposes. Let’s all determine to be faithful stewards who use God’s resources productively.

Let’s consider some principles of faithful stewardship as we await the return of the king.

[1] Kellen Lewis, Gospel of Luke, 12f, n.d.

[2] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Lk 19:12.

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