Everyone who has, more shall be given.
Luke 19:1-27 from the daily reading in the One year Bible
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
11 While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. 12 So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. 13 And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ 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, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. 16 The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ 18 The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’ 24 Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ 26 I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”
Today’s text, the parable of the nobleman and the kingdom, is difficult for many people to understand. It doesn’t seem to fit with the idea of a loving and gracious God who treats everyone fairly and equally. It is hard to process the statement: “I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” But harder still: “These enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” Remembering this is a parable, meant to teach a kingdom principle and not an actual account, we can try to understand the principle apart from the apparent severity of the statements. First let’s look at what made these people enemies of the nobleman. They did not want him to reign over them. The text says: But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us. In our culture, we may have some say, through an election process, about who will be in positions of authority. Yet even in our culture and society many governing officials are appointed not elected. We cannot fully control who is in authority over us. Romans 13:1 says: Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Daniel 2:21 says: It is He (God) who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. Certainly not every leader is Godly or good, but authority is ordained and established by God. More over there are consequences to rebellion against authority. Even in this nation, we have the right to object and even to protest, but to be an enemy of the ruling authority, “an enemy of the state,” is punishable by death.
We are not told why the citizens hated the nobleman. One of his slaves said: I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow. Perhaps that was the perception among some of the citizens. If we look though, in the context of the kingdom of God and Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, what is said about Jesus rule? In John 15:25 Jesus says: “…now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’” Perhaps the reason they hated the nobleman was that they were rebellious. Perhaps it wasn’t him at all but rather they who were wrong. One slave spoke his judgment against his master, but the other two, the ones who were obedient and faithful, returned to their master what was his. They were rewarded, not because they did any great thing, but because they were faithful and obedient to their master. We too have been given things in this world. Some have been given much and some less, but everything we have is given by God. In the end as creator of all things, He is also owner of all things. We choose, like the slaves in the parable, whether we will put what God has provided for us to work for His kingdom or whether we will fear Him, judge Him as harsh and exacting and so be judged by our own standard. Matthew 7:1-2 says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Those in the world love to quote, or misquote this verse against Christians. In truth though, this is more than a Christian commandment. It is both a natural and a spiritual principle. If we view God as harsh and judgmental, it is because we see Him through our own perspective. We judge Him by our own standard and measure. We assume God must be like we are, therefore He must be harsh and exacting.
Today’s text began with the account of the salvation and conversion of Zaccheus, a rich tax collector. It says: When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Zaccheus did not view Jesus as harsh and judgmental, he received Him gladly. We are not told of anything Jesus said to Zaccheus apart from the words “today I must stay at your house.” There was no condemnation from Jesus, only His loving and gracious presence. When Zaccheus saw Jesus as He was, as He is, he judged himself differently. He no longer desired to hold onto what God had given him, but instead he gave back blessing those who were less fortunate.
There are natural and spiritual principles that we cannot deny or escape. There is authority and we do not get to choose that authority. We only choose whether we will be faithful and obedient or rebellious. We will all be judged by our own standard of measure. For those who know the loving and gracious God, judgment will be according to His love and grace. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It’s even more than eternal life though, for those who faithfully give God what is His. Matthew 19:29 says: “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” On the other hand, those who choose to reject the love of God and view Him instead as harsh and exacting, will be judged by their own standard. To everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. As I allow myself to see You as You are, I also see myself as You see me, Loving, faithful and obedient. Thank You for judging me by Your standard, not by my own. I choose to live for You and to give all that You have given for Your kingdom. Thank You for Your love and grace, for all that You have given and provided through Christ. Amen.