The Book of Luke, “Occupy till I come!” Part II - Lesson 205
Luke 19:11-27, And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. 20And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. 22And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? 24And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. 25(And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) 26For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. 27But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
Jesus Christ teaches this parable because he was near Jerusalem where many, based upon Old Testament writings, thought the kingdom would appear
He also tells us that many think that the kingdom will come when he arrives in Jerusalem.
In other words the common thinking is that the kingdom of God is imminent.
So he begins the parable by telling us of a nobleman who was to embark on a journey in order to receive a kingdom.
Although he is already a person of position and power, by becoming a king he was to become a man of even greater position and power.
But in order to do this he had to travel to a distant country
to be crowned by a higher king, but once crowned he would return to his land and assume the power of king over his people.
This nobleman was a business man and as such called his servants to him to give them their marching orders to perform while he was away.
To each of his ten servants he gave one pound, which is thought to be equal to about 100 days wages, a substantial amount of money in any day.
The servants were not being given money for their own use but for the master’s use.
When the nobleman told his servants “Occupy till I come” he meant for them to engage themselves in his business.
This word occupy in the Greek has a connection with the word “pragmatic” which means being concerned with practical considerations or consequences.
The nobleman was saying to his servants “Be busy about my business, be engaged in trading on my behalf.
So after the giving of these instructions the nobleman went to the far country and after some time as promised, he returned but now as the king.
The first thing he did, as king, was to settle accounts with his servants.
II Cor. 5:10, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Jesus only mentions three of the ten servants but these three are sufficient to prove his point.
One of the servants did very well, getting a 10-fold return on his master’s money.
Another servant managed to use his master’s money to obtain a five-fold return.
The third had no increase at all, because he never put the money to any use fearing the master and claiming that he was an austere man.
Instead, he simply laid up the money in a napkin.
In effect, he lost money for his master, since there had been no gain at all.
It is true that he still had all the money he was given but the amount that it should have grown was in effect stolen from the Master.
The master dealt with the first two servants in a similar way.
The first servant, who had the greatest increase and twice as much as the second servant, received a “Well done” from the master and was given authority over ten cites, equaling the increase that he had brought.
The second servant was not commended with the same words as the first, but the reward of five cities was patterned after the reward of the first servant, one for each pound of increase.
Each servant received a position of authority directly proportionate to his faithfulness with regard to the master’s money.
Quite a reward from such an austere man, don’t you suppose?
I wonder what the third servant thought when he saw all the cities being given to his fellow servants.
The third servant is the central figure of this parable and we are to learn from him and the Lord’s dealing with him, the main point of this parable.
This third servant’s actions picture the problem which our Lord is addressing, the problem of thinking that the kingdom is imminent.
This servant did not put his pound to use, he did not “do business” with it, with the intention of presenting an increase to his master.
Instead, he hid it, neatly wrapped in a piece of cloth.
The servant’s words are all that we have to go by and that is what he was judged by for the master said: Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant.
Now what were those words? He said: Here is thy pound.
Here is what you gave me to do business with and I was able to keep it safe and sound for you.
I did not risk its loss for I knew that I would face your wrath for you are an austere man.
Talk about risk taking
So we are given the accounts for three of the ten servants, two of which were rewarded for faithful service and one who is condemned for his lack of service.
What is the point of this story in light of what is going on as they travel to Jerusalem.
The point is that the Lord is telling the disciples that the kingdom is not imminent, that there will be a time whereby his servants are expected to be faithful in carrying out the work of the king.
They are to know that the king had to go away in order to gain the right to rule.
Our Lord had to lay the foundation for His kingdom by laying down His life for the sins of the world.
He had to provide for righteousness on the basis of His grace, so that men could be pronounced righteous and be allowed to enter into His kingdom.
Jesus had to go up to heaven to be crowned king, and to wait for the Father’s appointed time for Him to return and to reign.
And this delay of the kingdom provides a time for the king’s servants to be proven and tested, so that those who are faithful will be rewarded by greater responsibilities in the kingdom.
What a principle this is in testing people.
The secret to success is doing excellent work especially in the small things.
Some folks think that menial work is beneath them and they think to save their excellent work for big things.
If you cannot do excellent work in menial things how do you expect to do excellent work in big things?
So to the degree that the servants are faithful in the use of money which is a small thing, they will be given greater authority to rule in the kingdom.
His servants were not to have a short term mindset, thinking that any day the king would return which would affect their faithfulness and long term planning and investment.
Did this unfaithful servant convince himself that doing business was foolish and unnecessary, since the kingdom was imminent?
Did he feel that long-term investing of his master’s money was just plain foolish?
Isn’t long-term investing foolishness to those who have a short-term mindset.
Do 90 year olds plant pecan or apple trees or do they simply plant tomatoes which they can enjoy in a few days?
So Jesus is here cautioning his disciples about how to live while awaiting his return.
There is to be a real anticipation of the imminence of his return and his kingdom but that anticipation must not interfere with his servants’ faithful performance of their duties.
On the one hand, we must live in the light of an imminent return.
Christ may come at any moment, and we should both be ready and watching for His return.
But we must also live wisely, making good investments for His kingdom, knowing that His return may not be as soon as we think or hope.
Many foolish things have been done by those who felt that the kingdom was imminent.
One of the more prominent foolish things that was done, happened in 1844 when William Miller, a Baptist layman and amateur student of the Bible came to the conclusion that Christ would return on Oct. 2, 1844.
He came to this conclusion based upon his interpretation of what he thought were numbering systems in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation.
This date in October 1844 was the date commonly accepted throughout what was called the Millerite movement, as the exact date of the anticipated return of Jesus.
More than 100,000 Millerites were awaiting this "Blessed Hope", some who abandoned their farms or sold their homes and left their employment, to propagate the gospel of the last days.
Many of them dressed in white robes and climbed up on roofs and hilltops.
But the chosen night came and went.
The milestone would come to be known as the Great Disappointment of 1844.
This was only one of the many disappointments of those who choose to ignore God’s word.
Jesus is very clear in his word, to not take up time trying to figure out when he is coming.
Mark 13:31-36, Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
It was foolish for William Miller to think that God revealed to him the time of His Son’s coming and many were discouraged by following such a foolish man but on the other hand, many foolish things have been done by those who feel Christ’s coming is a long way off.
The message of the word of God is that we must hold both a short-term and a long-term view of life and ministry, and we must seek to hold these view at the same time.
“Occupy till I come” means just that. Be busy about my business not about my coming.
We are to do His business thinking that he may not come for a thousand years while at the same time thinking that He may come today for that is what faithfulness is all about.
According to the Word of God we are not to limit our ministries in any way because of so-called signs or new understandings of prophesy or signs of the seasons or of the times.
Occupy till I come does not have within it any time whereby the work of the ministry of Christ takes a holiday in anticipation of his coming.
Jesus always said while on this earth, I must be about my Father’s business.
Certainly you would have thought he would have taken a vacation before going to Jerusalem to be crucified.
But there was no time when Christ stopped being about his Father’s business, and that included the time on the cross when he told the thief, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Even until his last breath he faithfully occupied.
And that is what he expects of his servants.