In my closet, I have a treasured item that my kiddos got for me for Father’s Day. Two years ago, Cindy and the kiddos purchased a Carson Palmer jersey for me. I like this because it’s not the traditional who uniform or black uniform, but an orange home uniform—a uniform they have great success with.
On Wednesday night, Alex Marshall brought me a uniform that is very much treasured by Chris Marshall—a Chris Sabo jersey from the 1980s. Sabo played 3rd base for a number of years with the Cincinnati Reds.
Another jersey I have is a jersey from Trinidad. On the front is the team representing West Indies, on the back is the name of arguably the greatest cricket player in the history of the game, Brian Lara with his #9.
Another jersey here means a lot to us. This is a Cleveland Browns jersey (and I’m surprised the Bengals and Browns jersey didn’t get into a fight in this box!) with the #44 on it. On the back is the name “Roberts”—a gift to my father-in-law who passed away last year.
All of these jerseys have something in common. They all have names. On the front of the jersey is the name or logo of the particular team. On the back you have name of the player (Sabo, Palmer, Lara, Roberts). You even have the name of the maker of that jersey.
The question is: which name matters most? Former hockey star Duane Sutter once said, “You play for the name on the front, not the name on the back.”
You see, all of us who are Christians are part of a team! We have a uniform, being clothed in righteousness. The roster of that team is written down in the Book of Life, which was there from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8, 17:8). Yet, what name matters most to us—the name on the front or the name on the back of our ‘jersey’?
In Luke 19:11-27, we come across an interesting parable that Jesus told right after his encounter with Zacchaeus. Won’t you read this with me?
11As 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. 12He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15When 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. 16The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’"
As we see what God means to teach us from this parable, we must understand this: While God causes the growth, He commands us to invest—and He will take care of the rest!
You have heard it said, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.” As far as this parable is concerned, you need to understand who all of these players in this story represent.
The nobleman represents Christ, the king! We would return to a “far country,” as he had always promised during his ministry, and would return. Yet, the ‘near country’ was also under his rule, because he made the world (John 1:1-3). And the citizens of this country did not like this nobleman’s rule, sending ahead a delegation. These citizens represent the Jews at the time. This was nothing new, however. And this story was something to which they could relate.
After King Herod died, Archaleus was convinced he would ascend to the throne of Judea. Even though he was reigning unofficially in that capacity, the only way it would be official is if he received the approval of Caesar himself. So, Archaleus made the long journey to Rome—only to find out that a delegation had gone ahead of him to protest his ascension. One group came from his family, who felt that others in the family were rightful heirs to the throne. The other came from the Jewish leaders, who protested the cruelty of how he had treated the Jews, at one point executing 3,000 of them. After much debate, Archelaus was given the throne. Needless to say, his family and the Jewish leaders felt his wrath in the backlash.
Clearly, this parable brought back those memories and helped them connect. Yet, this nobleman had servants—bondservants who had surrendered everything to their Master. These servants depict Christians, who have surrendered their entire lives (heart, soul, mind, and strength) over to Jesus. Whatever he bid them do, they would do it.
He gave them each a mina (approximately three months’ laborers’ wage) and gave them this simple, but powerful order: “Engage in business until I come.”
Theologians have labeled the time between Jesus’ first and second comings as the “already and the not yet” of his Kingdom. He has come and established His rule in part through the church, but will come again and do so in full at the end. While theologians call this one thing, I tend to call this period: “In the meantime.” We affirm from God’s Word that Jesus has come, and we also affirm that Jesus will come again (“Engage in business until I come”). So we must look at this as, “Yes, Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again,” as the ancient creed states. But in the meantime… .
So this statement that Jesus gives us is an ‘in the meantime’ type of statement. Engage in business until I come. He did not want them huddling with their own, even if ‘their own’ were very religious. He did not want them mingling with those not their own just for the sake of mingling. Don’t just simply wear the uniform. You’re a member of that team. Get in the game. Engage! Invest!
He Causes the Growth, He Commands Us to Invest
Upon the nobleman’s return, three servants approached him with the return. Please notice the difference between the first two and the third. In verse 16, the first servant says, “The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’” In verse 18, we see the similar response to the servant whose mina returned five-fold—the nobleman set him over five cities.
Yet, the third servant had an issue. His response to the nobleman’s inquiry was markedly different. And it only goes a few words in to see the difference. “Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I … .”
What is the difference? A number of ways. First, the first two had confidence the mina would bring a return, the third didn’t. Notice how they express this. “Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.” They did not take credit for the return. Unlike the third servant, there was no ‘I.’
It would help if we knew what this ‘mina’ represented. It represents the greatest resource that we have—the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as the other resources He has given to us to help advance that gospel. Those resources are:
- Spiritual gifts
- Finances: savings, stocks, bonds, retirement
- Skills and hobbies
All of these things and more are given so we may invest in the greatest resource there is. We must remember from God’s Word that while Paul planted and Apollos watered, it is God who brings in the increase. But He uses His servants to bring this great end of salvation in place.
Dear Christian, do you trust that God will use to invest His gospel so He may bring in the increase? One of the reasons why this servant laid away the mina in his handkerchief, or why we hide our light under a bushel, is fear. The man said, “I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did now sow” (Luke 19:21).
One of the reasons why we do not trust God may be due to the ‘god’ in which we’ve placed our trust. The way that he described his Master showed he was either deluded or was trying to make an excuse for his laziness and disobedience. Yet, fear is a great crippler to Kingdom people.
What causes you fear when it comes to investing the gospel in others? At our church, we put before you in numerous places that we are to spread the glory of God from our neighbors to the nations. We go further by saying that aim to do this by strengthening the people of God to share the gospel of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What keeps us from investing this mina?
Fear of engaging in conversation. Fear of rejection is a powerful tool Satan uses.
Fear of not knowing what to say. Some churches ask incoming members who wish to join the church (not new Christians, but those transferring from another church) to share the gospel in 60 seconds. This is a good practice for assurance for Christians but also to be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15-16). But Satan whispers in our ear that we shouldn’t be so arrogant to think we have the answers. We need to leave it up to those who have that gift.
Fear of not knowing how to answer follow up questions.
But dear friends, another reason we do not invest our mina in others could be pride camouflaged as humility.
- God’s Word will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11-12)
- God will provide the words to say
- God is the one who brings in the harvest—we simply plant the seed.
Why did Christ take away the mina and give it to the one who already had ten cities? Because those who have a love for their Master and His Kingdom—and demonstrate that by investing those resources God has given—God will give them what is needed.