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Digging in for the Long Haul: Luke 19, The Parable of the Minas III

The Judgment

In the story the King takes the mina from the third servant and gives it to the most successful servant. and though people protest the unfairness of it, it is the sovereign decision of the king. Then we have this very difficult summary statement, this proverbial lesson from the king:

Luke 19:26 “He replied,`I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.

Commentators argue over what exactly this signifies.

1. Some commentators argue that this servant demonstrates that he never really knew the king. That his disobedience and carelessness in the things of the kingdom demonstrates he never had a real relationship with the Master. The fact that the King calls him a ‘wicked servant’ is evidence of this. And we know that such people circulated round Jesus, people who were happy to associate with him but did not really know him. Judas for instance. It comes therefore as a warning to us to ask ourselves frequently how are we managing the resources entrusted to us by Jesus? Are we being faithful and obedient over the long-term?

2. A second view relies on the fact that the third servant is not counted among those who are killed in :27. This servant suffers loss, shame and disappointment certainly, and worse perhaps, he has no share in the responsibilities of the kingdom.

The handling of the mina was a test intended to assess levels of reward and responsibility in the new Kingdom. What the third servant loses therefore is the extra responsibility.

Notice how this develops:

The Good servant in :17 takes the master’s mina and earns 10. His reward is equal to the return on the investment of the Master’s mina, i.e. 10 minas earned = 10 cities. The same is true of the second servant. 5 minas earned = 5 cities.

i.e. in verse 26 ‘to everyone who has, more will be given’

The third servant does not get any cities to rule over, since he was not a faithful steward. Nor does he even get to hold onto the 1 mina he started with. Thus I think we can understand the second part of the verse:

‘:26 to the one who has nothing (i.e. no return on the mina and hence no cities)…even what he has (the 1 mina) will be taken from him).’

This servant doesn’t lose his life in :27, nor by extension his relationship with the King, but he does lose his reward in the form of extra responsibility.

I think Paul is talking like this in 1 Cor 3:10-15

1 Corinthians 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

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