Text: Luke 19:11-27
Summary: We are going to look at the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Minas, two parables with many similarities and a few key differences. We are going to focus specifically on the differences between the wicked/lazy servants vs the good/faithful servants. Humble yourself, ask for help to crucify your flesh, and ask for grace to live for Jesus.
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, he gave them ten minas, 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! 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.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for 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.’ 22 He 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? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And 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. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”
Father, we’re so thankful that we can gather as your people. Now we humble ourselves before you. I pray that you help us and teach us how to crucify our flesh and ask for grace so that we can live for Jesus. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
I want to talk today about a wicked and lazy servant versus a good and faithful servant. Already the grammar doesn’t quite line up because you would think that the opposite of wicked and lazy should be good and diligent. But it doesn’t say good and diligent. It says good and faithful. If you look at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Minas here in Luke 19, they are obviously talking about very similar things. There are many similarities but there are some critical and crucial differences. I think if we put the two parables together and you study the parables as one single teaching, an amazing truth will come out for you.
Just briefly, I’m going to talk about the similarities, but we’re going to focus on the differences. The similarities. Obviously, they’re both dealing with servants. There are sets of three servants and both have two servants that are good and faithful and one that is wicked. They’re both dealing with money. A talent is a measure of weight and translates into money. This is a laborer’s wage and is worth 24 years of wages. A mina is worth three months’ wages for a laborer. So they’re both talking about money and rather large sums of money. Three months of wages, or 24 years of wages.
A similar charge is given to both sets of three servants. They’re both entrusted with the master’s property. In both the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19, the servants are told to engage in business. So there is an expectation of multiplication for the servants. And similarly, in the Parable of the Talents, the five talents that the servant received is multiplied to 10. Two talents are multiplied to four. In the Parable of the Minas, one mina is multiplied to 10. Another mina is multiplied to five.
There is an entrustment of property and of goods, and there’s an expectation of multiplication. Two out of three in both accounts multiplied. The same praise is given to these two out of three in both parables. The servants in both parables who multiplied what they were given were commended as good and faithful, and that is across the board.
And now when we look at the one wicked servant, or the one wicked and lazy servant, the same excuse is given in both parables. They thought the master or king who was to return was a hard man because he doesn’t actually do any multiplication. He entrusts the money to the servants, but because they’re so wicked, they said they knew that whatever is multiplied, they’re not going to be able to keep it. It’s all going to the master, and he didn’t reap it but he’s going to take it. The master is going to just take everything that I’ve done. So these wicked and lazy servants didn’t want to do it. The same excuses were given and they said they were afraid. They said, you are a hard master and a harsh king. And so one hid it in the ground. One hid it in a handkerchief.
I think the most critical thing we can learn from this is not the similarities but the differences in Luke 19 and Matthew 25.
15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.
That word for ability is very interesting. The original Greek translation is dunamis, which means divine power. We’re going to come back to this. Whose ability is it? Is it the servant’s ability or is it God’s ability and His power flowing into the person, enabling them to multiply, something that they could not do on their own? I think that’s the tension here. It says it’s his ability but more specifically, it is his divine ability. It is a God-given empowerment and energizing power to do that which God assigns.
The talent is according to each person’s ability. I think it’s according to each person’s faith. Some people have greater faith and so that person with greater faith is given a five talent portion of whatever assignment, mission, or things they must do for the Lord. God is looking upon that person who has an extra measure of faith and so He says, I’m going to assign this person to these set of tasks. So there is an expectation according to your ability, God says, I’m going to empower you with my divine power so that you can fulfill everything that I give to you. That is the talents parable.
In contrast, in the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19, each servant is given the same portion – one mina. I think that’s the difference. All 10 servants are given the same portion, one mina, one mina, one mina, across the board. And so this is not ability, this is not faith. This is not many assignments. This is your life. We’re all given one life. We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day. And so with your portion, with your life that you’ve been entrusted with, the breath that we have in our lungs today, are you living for the Lord?
It’s the same across the board. We have to look at both of these parables together, we’re given different portions and different assignments, different amounts of power, divine power, according to our faith, our ability, and what we can handle. It’s a God-given ability, it’s also a capacity that perhaps we’re born with that God sees. He sees our faith and matches our natural talent and He gives additional power so that you can complete a more difficult assignment for the Lord. When it comes to the minas, we’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, we’re given the same allotment of time. And God expects us to steward our life well.
There is a future view of the kingdom that we see in Luke 19. The one mina that was multiplied to 10 minas translates in the new heaven and earth, in the heavenly kingdom, into having authority over 10 cities. We might think heaven is a place where we’re like angels floating in the clouds, and we have a harp and we’re just singing and not doing anything. But Luke 19 tells us there are actual assignments. And there’s actual authority and responsibilities given to us, based on our faithfulness here on earth. If you are a person who was given one mina, you have this one life to steward and you multiplied it tenfold, then that would be equivalent to 10 cities that you are in charge of in the new heaven and new earth. Our faithfulness here matters. There is a heavenly reward that translates directly. We should live for maximizing the reward. Also, God’s enemies are defined in Luke 19. It talks about a nobleman in Luke 19.
12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.
So there’s a nobleman. He is looking for a kingdom. He’s going to return as a king. I wonder who this is. Who is the nobleman who is going to return as King? It is none other than King Jesus.
And, interestingly, it says in v.14, his citizens hated him, they hated this nobleman who is going to return as king, and they sent a delegation after him, saying we do not want this man to reign over us. So the enemies of God are defined, not as the atheists who murder babies and they get joy out of it, or who like torturing animals, and we think this is wicked. No, the enemies of God are defined as those who refuse to submit under the dominion, rule, and reign of Jesus Christ.
That goes for believers. Have you submitted your life under the rule and reign of Christ? If not, you are an enemy of God. It talks about the enemies again in v.27.
27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.
This is a critical question that I want us to think through as you listen today. Have you submitted authority and lordship of your life to King Jesus? Is He actively, presently, practically ruling and reigning over your life, over your decisions, over your emotions, everything that defines who you are and how you live in this present age, is Jesus the King? Does He rule over you? This question of who rules over you is a critical piece of transitioning from a wicked, lazy servant to a good and faithful servant.
In Luke 19, the wicked servant is called out as such, as a wicked servant. But then Matthew 25 adds another adjective. It says wicked and slothful or wicked and lazy. The wicked servant gave all of these excuses, and I want to point out these are excuses. When a believer says, I thought you’re a hard man. I thought you were going to take everything. The hard man is not true. The fact that King Jesus is going to come to collect, that is true. The fact that he says he was afraid is not true. We have to see there’s a mixture of truthful things that are coming out of this wicked and lazy servant and completely false things that are mixed in.
If he really feared the Lord, what King Jesus says when the master returns, he says, at the very least, you would put it in the bank. If you really feared me, if you really intended to do what I said, which was to multiply, Jesus just sees right through the excuses. And he gives the same response. He says, why didn’t you put it in the bank? And you know, when you put your money in a bank, it is not a big return. We’re talking about 0.5% or 1%, a small return.
It is the graciousness of the king, who says I’m not even expecting one mina to become two minas, or one talent to become two talents, I will even take a fraction of return on my investment. If you care at all, you would have put it in the bank and given me a fractional return. But the fact that you didn’t put it in the bank, and you buried it in the ground, or you put it in a handkerchief, I see your heart. You never intended to live for me. That’s what’s being revealed. You never gave me lordship of your life. You just live life your way. And that is how God defines wickedness.
Wickedness is not just murdering babies, that is truly wicked. But for the believers in God’s church, He is redefining wickedness as somebody who refuses to hand over the reins of his or her life. It is somebody who refuses to say, Lord Jesus, you are the master and the king. I am a kingdom citizen, I surrender my life to you. I want to live for you.
The same principle is in both parables, that to the one who has, more will be given. The talent and the mina were taken from the wicked and lazy servant and given to the most faithful of the bunch, to the 10-talent person, to the 10-mina person. That is a spiritual principle. It is the same across the board.
Going back to the word dunamis. In Matthew 25, when it says that each one was given various amounts of talents according to his ability, this ability is power. And this is divine power. How do we access this divine power? Can you through your own will faithfully live your life, try really hard, be diligent, and actually at the end of your life present a multiplication in a way that God desires? Can you take your one mina life or your one talent life and multiply to ten or five minas or ten, four or two talents? Can you multiply through your efforts and produce at the end of your life a multiplication that the Lord is pleased with? Clearly, from this text and from the word for ability, it is not through human ability. It is a divine ability. So how can we access this divine ability?
I want to invite you to first humble yourself. First, admit, I cannot do this. First, acknowledge that my willpower is insufficient. My flesh is so alive. I might confuse myself and think I am doing it the way God wants. Maybe your flesh is alive and you’re proud and you’re just a diligent person, you’re the kind of person that your boss wants you to be on this project because he knows you’re going to get the job done because you’re dependable and trustworthy. Is that the kind of effort that directly translates into spiritual activity?
I want to say to you, it is not the same. It is not the same if your flesh is alive and you’re working out of your human willpower. At the end of your life, you’ll think, I’ve multiplied it. Here are the additional talents or minas and Lord, you must be pleased. In the end, if you did not rely on His power and you did it with your own power and your flesh, He is not pleased. It is divine power. God opposes the proud but He gives grace to the humble. That is a clue. Not only do we humble ourselves, but we ask for grace.
Even before you ask for grace, I want to invite you to humble yourself. That is the beginning of your prayer, the posture of your prayers is to humble yourself. We’ve been talking about prayer for several weeks now, and part of repentance is asking for help to crucify our flesh. Ask for help to crucify your flesh. Remember your baptism. I keep going back to the quintessential moment of the Christian life. Why is this baptism of repentance so important that every believer of every denomination must do this? You cannot just say, when I was an infant I got a few drops of water sprinkled over me. No, as somebody who knows what they’re doing, as somebody who is born again, every man, woman, and child must be baptized. If there’s one sacrament that the Bible says you must do, it is this, in addition to the Lord’s Supper.
And this one is so important that you only do it once in your lifetime, it is this baptism of repentance. I come back to it because it models for us what we’re talking about in the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Minas. Remember when you went underwater, you said, I am crucified with Christ, as it says in Galatians 2. And you came out of the water in the newness of Christ. I’ve been raised with Christ in the newness of life. And so when you are repenting, you’re saying, I am dead to Ray. I am dying to my old self, I am dying to my flesh. I’m crucifying my flesh, Ray no longer lives. And I come out of the water, I come out of that prayer when I crucify my flesh, and I say, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. It’s Christ, His power, that’s coming forth.
Humble yourself and crucify your flesh. Ask for help to crucify your flesh. Read Galatians 5, it will give you a list of works of the flesh. Go through that list one by one and say, I crucify my anger, I crucify my sexual immorality, I crucify my jealousy, I crucify my conceit. Go through that list one by one in Galatians 5.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
When you’re crucifying your flesh, you’re crucifying your fleshly passions and your fleshly desires. There are good desires that the Lord gives. There are good passions that the Lord gives. It really depends on whether you’re crucified or not. Every passion, and the word for passion is emotion, every emotion that comes from you if you’re not crucifying the flesh is coming from your flesh. If your flesh is not crucified, every desire and every longing is coming from your flesh.
If you are crucified, there are times when God gives you strong passions. God gives you strong emotions and it’s birthed out of faith in the Lord Jesus. That’s how you know. If the emotion translates and moves you toward faith in the Lord Jesus, you know it’s from the Lord. You know this is divine power that’s flowing into you because it’s not your flesh. If it’s your flesh, you will have strong emotions, but no faith in the Lord Jesus. That is your flesh talking. That fleshly desire needs to be crucified. You need to learn how to crucify that emotion.
You might think it’s so strong, it must be sincere and must be of God. No, it is not. If your flesh is not crucified, every strong emotion, every longing that you have will confuse you as saying this is from the Lord. If it does not move you toward faith in Christ, it is only your flesh shouting at you. Don’t get confused. You must crucify your passions. The flesh that expresses itself through its passions and through strong emotions, you could confuse and think it is so strong that it must be from the Lord, and I feel at peace with this decision.
But perhaps it’s just your flesh trying to feel good about the decision you’ve already made, the longing for that thing that you’re chasing after. It’s not faith in Christ driving you there and God didn’t tell you to do it, but you just want it and the desire is so strong. You’re moving in that direction and you will confuse it as the Lord wants me to do this because I feel it, because I longed for it. I’m pursuing it. It must be from the Lord.
No, it’s your flesh talking. Most of our passions and desires are personal and fleshly. Things that are coming out of our flesh and out of our own thoughts, out of our own desires, out of our own greed, let’s not attribute it to the Lord so easily. Let’s pause before we say, I think the Lord wants me to do this and I feel at peace about this. I feel strongly it must be from the Lord. First, have you crucified your flesh with all of its passions and desires? Then you can begin to ask the Lord. This passion that I feel rising, this desire and this longing that’s rising from within me, is it from you, Lord? You can only ask that after you’ve gone through humbling yourself and asking for help to crucify your flesh, along with all of your fleshly passions and desires.
Then you ask, what is this desire from? Is this longing, this passion, this desire from you, Lord? I’ve been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives in me. This is power to live life where it’s not you anymore, when people look at you, they see Jesus, and it’s as if Jesus is inhabiting your body because He’s there. He’s with you, and you are literally the hands and feet of Jesus. You’re doing what Jesus would have done if He inhabited your body and He lived in 2020. It’s divine power that allows you to live for Jesus. You cannot multiply your talents, your life, your mina, and think at the end of your life you have multiplications of the initial investment unless divine power is flowing through you.
We might say it’s the person’s ability, his own ability, but you have to see the word is dunamis, His divine power that’s flowing in. Probably the text that most captures it for me is in 2 Corinthians 12:7. This is about Paul asking for his thorn to be removed. He asked the Lord three times.
2 Corinthians 12
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When it says Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness, the word power is dunamis. It’s the same idea. It is when you experience the weakness of your flesh, you come to the limit of yourself, and you say, I don’t want to live this way anymore. I don’t want to be a fleshly person anymore. I don’t want to confuse things and assume that every desire must be a sanctified desire, or that it must be from you, Lord. All these longings, all of these ideas that I have, everything that I feel peace about, is coming from my flesh.
Paul received so much revelation, he was taken to the third heaven, he was spiritually gifted, he spoke in tongues, he healed people in Jesus’ Name, and he saw paradise with his own eyes. For a spiritually gifted person with this type of revelation from the Lord, seeing things that most of us have never seen, the temptation for pride for Paul was so great. And so God allowed this messenger of Satan to torment him. Paul asked three times, and as children, we can persistently ask until the Lord tells us, don’t ask anymore. My answer is given. I want to teach you to experience my grace, which is sufficient for you in your weakness, in your limitation when you’ve crucified your flesh.
Let my power and my dunamis flow into you. You’ll be better off than you feeling so good about yourself and trying to multiply the talents and minas on your own sense of goodness. No, that will not get you far enough. So if you experience a weakness because you’ve humbled yourself, you’ve crucified your flesh with all your passions and desires, and this is a regular part of your prayer, you ask for grace. Isn’t this what Paul experienced? A grace, which is the power to live for Jesus.
Maybe we’ll talk more about grace next week but grace is not just a covering for sin. It is power to live for Jesus in a way that you multiply supernaturally. Multiply 24 hours a day, you accomplish things that other people look at and say, that’s humanly impossible. And it’s true, it is humanly impossible. That person is given power from above, the grace that comes upon a humble person, because God opposes the proud and He gives grace to the humble, the power of God’s grace coming to empower that believer.
Yes, what he accomplishes in a 24 hour period is supernatural. What that person accomplished over his or her lifetime is a 10 full multiplication and it is impossible on human effort to do this. It is by God’s grace and His enabling power, His dunamis. When we recognize the limitation of our flesh and we crucify our flesh and ask for grace, then the multiplication begins.
Why has the Lord slowed down all of us in terms of our work? Part of it is He is waiting for us to understand that our effort in which we labored in the past will not cut it anymore. He wants to know that we have crucified our flesh, we’re genuinely humble, we understand our desperate need for grace and that it’s okay to be weak and it’s actually preferable to be weak in the flesh so that we rely solely on the power of God as He bestows upon us His grace.
So humble yourself, crucify your flesh, ask for help to crucify your flesh with all of his passions and desires. Then in humility and in brokenness, ask for grace. It is a power to live for Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.
Father, we know that you oppose the proud. We kneel before you today in humility. We start every day and every prayer in humility. We don’t puff up our chests. We don’t stand in arrogance. We humbly bow the knee. Every prayer we begin humbly. We ask for help to crucify our flesh. We are so alive, Lord. And everybody who is alive hates the king because the king expects absolute obedience and submission from his subjects.
No wonder in the end, the proud will not inherit the kingdom of God because they never submitted to King Jesus. We want to learn how to submit under the rule and reign of Christ. We repent of our pride, of our plans, of our purposes, of our preferences. We repent, Lord, of our flesh. As we expressed at our baptism, Lord. We want to go through a daily baptism of repentance, to be crucified with Christ, go under the water, fully baptized and immersed in the baptism waters of repentance. We want to stay underwater until we are crucified fully, and we come out of that water in the newness of life. All of our passions and desires for all who belong to the Lord Jesus, may we crucify all of them. Help us, Lord. We don’t even know how. We don’t know where to begin, Lord. We ask for help.
We also ask for grace. We know that those who are genuinely humble. You will give grace in plentiful portions. You give grace only to the humble. So as we humble ourselves, we anticipate you will give us the gift of grace. And this grace covers our sin, yes. But it is a power to live for Jesus, to multiply our meager lives, to accomplish things in a 24 hour period that is humanly impossible, but in you, nothing is impossible. We pray that at the end of our lives, you would multiply a single mina into 10 minas. Even a single talent will be multiplied into 10 talents because we asked for grace and the power to multiply the initial investment. We know there’s no ceiling. You will multiply things tenfold, thirty, sixty, ninety, one hundredfold.
So we ask for a maximizing of our lives, for an incredible return at the end of our lives. Forgive us, Lord, for being selfish. Forgive us, Lord, for not asking for grace, for not realizing how much we are in need of grace. We’re living life in our own power, forgive us, Lord. We pray that as we partake in the Lord’s Supper, you would remind us what we did in our first baptism. How we went under the water, we crucified our sins and our flesh with all of its passions and desires. We came out in the newness of life. It’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. May the power of God rest upon all of us every time we pray this prayer. Thank you, Lord. We dedicate this time to you. In Jesus Name, Amen
There is one more thing I wanted to add. You would think the opposite of a wicked and lazy servant would be a good and diligent servant, but it does not say good and diligent. It says, good and faithful. And so do not feel condemned. This message is not about diligence. The last thing you want to take away from this message is, I should be more diligent. That’s not what it says. It says good and faithful. Galatians 2:20 says, I’ve been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. And so how do we access this power? It’s faith in Jesus, you hold on to Jesus. Faith in Jesus is how you live out this supernatural life of multiplication. It is not through diligence. That is a religious person who is being diligent. It is somebody who understands, I’m not living the way I used to live, but now I live by faith in the Lord Jesus. And this qualifies us as a good and faithful servant. Let’s close in prayer.
Father, thank you for giving us the clarity of not being a wicked and lazy servant. And, Lord, we understand you’re not looking for good and diligent servants. You’re looking for good and faithful servants, people who are full of faith in the Lord Jesus. And now the life we live, now that we’ve been raised to the newness of life, this new life empowered by grace and given divine power and energy from above. We now live this new life with faith in the Lord Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself up to us.
We hold on to Jesus, that is how we access this supernatural life of multiplication. We bank everything on Jesus. We entrust everything to Jesus and supernatural things and multiplication will happen. It is not us, we don’t receive any glory for it. It is not our effort or our ability, it is you, Lord Jesus. And so we give you all the glory. In the end, because it’s all you from beginning to end. You began the good work. We pray that you complete it in all of us. Thank you, Lord Jesus. In your precious Name we pray, Amen