The Reward of the Kingdom
Joseph: Chapter 37
The careful reader of Holy Scripture must have noticed that the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) is not the same as that of the pounds in Luke 19. They were not spoken at the same time: they were not spoken at the same place; and they were spoken to convey two distinct lines of teaching. The servants in Matthew 25 received amounts differing; while those in Luke 19 were each given the same. In Matthew 25 the Lord Jesus Christ would lay emphasis on the fact of Divine Sovereignty: gift and capacity are paramount in that portion for He distributes severally as He wills. Each one receives a different amount of talents: one was given five, another received two, and one was granted only one. Luke 19 teaches the truth of human responsibility for each servant was given one pound with which to trade.
The parable of the pounds was prompted by two reasons. In the first place “because He was nigh to Jerusalem.” No Jew would ever think of the Kingdom rule starting with any other centre than Jerusalem, for it would be the metropolis of the world in the coming day. The second reason for uttering this parable was “because they thought that the Kingdom of God would immediately appear.” This is confirmed by the question asked by the disciples in Acts 1:6, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
The Hebrew mind can appreciate but two dispensations; viz., The Law and the Kingdom. By telling this story the Lord indicated to His followers that there would be a period between the going away of the nobleman and his return after he had received the kingdom. The period, in fact, has extended to well nigh two millenniums.
The word “certain” is the characteristic word of Luke; being a doctor he dare not be uncertain! The “certain nobleman” is undoubtedly the Lord Himself. He has gone into a far country; for there is no moral relationship between this world and Heaven to which Christ has gone. God has said to Him, “Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstools” (Psalm 110:1); and again, “Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession” (Psalm 2:8).
He called ten servants and delivered to them ten pounds; that is, each received one pound, as is indicated in verse 16, and verse 18.
His parting commission was, “Occupy till I come.” It is obvious from this statement that Christ is coming again and in the meantime He desires that we should be engaged in service for Him. The word “occupy” is the word for “trade,” found again in verse 15, “trading.” When a person trades he does so in the world. He goes out on a venture. Picture yourself with ten thousand dollars; you would invest these in a business and all your endeavors would be to make the business prosper. That is the idea conveyed in the instruction of the nobleman. This is the day of opportunity; one day it will be patent to all how much energy we have expended in activity for the Lord.
In verse 14 we are informed that “his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this (‘man’ is italicised and is not in the text) to reign over us.” They spoke disparagingly of the nobleman. They also sent a message after him to say they had no desire for him to rule over them. The message was sent in the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7). Peter had said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things.” They refused to repent, so the Lord will deal with them when He is manifested in power and great glory.
He returns after He has been given the kingdom and calls his servants for examination. The first one brings with him the fruits of his efforts saying, “Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.” It must be admitted that to make ten from one is good business. He had used time and ability to secure for his master this amount. The Lord commended him as a “good servant” and recompensed him by giving him authority over ten cities. Cities are on earth, and the kingdom of God will be as tangible a thing as the kingdom of any earthly monarch. To be made Lord Mayor of ten cities is an achievement through fidelity to the Lord. The Lord will ever reward commensurate with our faithfulness. There is, however, an anticlimax here for it is obvious there are more cities to rule over than competent men to rule over them, when the Lord gives ten cities to the control of one person.
The second person came and said, “Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.” This person was similarly commended and granted authority over five cities.
The third person said, “Lord, behold here is thy pound, which I have laid up in a napkin.” The napkin is the sweat-cloth, and it is patent to all that he never used his sweat-cloth, for he laid his pound up in it. How tragic that one taking the place of a servant should have such a low estimate of the Lord as to lay up his pound in a napkin, and then to reveal his wicked thoughts about his master. The napkin is referred to three times in the Gospels, here, in John 11, and in John 20, and in two instances is associated with a dead body: that of Lazarus in John 11 and that of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 20. I suggest that though this person took the status of a servant he was spiritually dead, as is clearly indicated by his comments regarding his master.
The Lord took him up on his estimate of the master and changing the simile said, “Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury.” The bank is a place for weak people! One can deposit the principal and it gains, through time, interest. The word for “bank” is “trapeza” and is found in 1 Corinthians 10:21 where it is translated “table.” The Lord’s table (trapeza) is the fellowship of the death of Christ. If this man had not the grit to go out on a venture for his Lord he could, at least, have put the pound in the bank and there would have been interest accumulating. To trade one goes out into the world to find souls for Christ, and this is the work of the evangelist, the missionary, the Sunday school teacher, etc. But to lack that enthusiasm then the pound could profitably be lodged in the bank; that is, amongst the saints of God, then the Lord would get His own with interest.
This last person was judged out of his own mouth (v. 22), and he is designated a “wicked servant.” Christendom is full of professed servants of God, but many are like this man, they are spiritual corpses; they shall be judged according to the status they have taken.
The Lord instructs those who stand by to deprive him of the pound and to bestow it on the man with ten pounds. They with unanimity say, “Lord, he hath ten pounds!” The man who was a sham professor was stripped of all in which he trusted and judged thus before his master.
It is important to note that those who have evidenced marked faithfulness receive the “Benjamin’s portion.” “To him that hath shall be given” is the answer to the humble, unostentatious servant, from the one who is a pretender, all his duplicity will be removed, and the unvarnished subtlety that lay beneath exposed to the all seeing eye of the righteous judge.
Commensurate with your faithfulness will your reward be. Then be faithful to the One who today is out of sight, but who takes cognizance of every impulse.
While we enter the Father’s House on the basis of the blood of Christ, and in that realm we are all loved with the same love for each child is dear to the Father’s heart and enjoys the embrace of the Lover of our souls; we shall come forth in the Kingdom in positions which we have merited through faithfulness to our absent Lord. To Smyrna the Lord stated, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Paul reminded young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:8, “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”
Peter affirms that, “When the Chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away,” and these words are addressed to the godly overseers. There are crowns to be won, and it will give the Lord the utmost pleasure to bestow such upon those who manifested singleness of heart in service for Him while He has been out of sight.
This is what the Lord had in mind when addressing Philadelphia in Revelation 3:11 saying, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” He would have us faithful in this little while, so that He may have the pleasure of bestowing on us the many crowns which He holds out as His recompense for service rendered in this scene where our Lord is rejected and crucified.
One has truly said, “This world is full of willing people; some willing to work and many willing to let them.”
“God will not seek thy race,
Nor will He ask thy birth:
Alone He will demand of thee,
What hast thou done on earth?”