Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
How we handle today's small tasks affects whether we're given a larger task to perform and then enjoy the rewards that go with it. In a parable, Jesus taught about faithfulness and the perils of a lack of faithfulness. Today, more lessons from the words of Jesus.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, your series is called, You Can't Redo Life. Does this mean that we only get one chance to get things right?
Well, Dave, you know, it depends on how you interpret your question. I interpret it this way that, of course, we have the opportunity of getting things right as long as we're alive. But as all of us know, when the time comes to die, that might be too late. So, my heart is to say to all who are listening today, it is so critical that we begin today to invest in the ministry and the kingdom of heaven. By that, I mean to live our lives for the glory of God. Today, we have to begin to do that. You know, we here at Running to Win are in the midst of what we call a matching gift challenge. That is to say, some of our friends have said that they will match any gift given. And this is a time in which we can double our gifts. Would you consider becoming a part of this ministry? Here's what you do.
You go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I want us to listen carefully because getting back to Dave's question, the question we must answer is this, how do we begin today to live for God? Today I begin with a question and that is this, are you living for something that is beyond simply your existence? In other words, do you have something in mind that you are striving for that is so much bigger than you are that it is quite probable and quite correct to say that it is out of this world.
It exists in another sphere because you are living for eternity and not for time. Perhaps you say today, well, Pastor Lutzer, I have a vocation that I absolutely hate. I hate going to work. I don't care what kind of a vocation you are in and what kind of a predicament you may be in. God is calling you to something great.
And today we're going to find out exactly what that is. The passage of scripture is the 19th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Luke chapter 19. This is the only parable that Jesus ever told that has a historical basis. When he was telling this parable, he was actually using something that the people were acquainted with in those days, a political event that had great repercussions for them that they all would have remembered. In order for you to have the background, I need to remind you that King Herod was a wicked king.
You remember the Bible says he tried to kill Jesus and he did many other evils. But after Herod died, after he died, he left his kingdom to three sons and one of them was named Archelaus and Archelaus was the one who ruled there in Judea. But in order for him to actually be acknowledged as a king, he had to go to Rome and speak personally to Caesar Augustus because only Augustus who controlled the world at that time could acknowledge him to be a king and to give approval for his leadership. Well, according to Josephus, 50 Jews were so angry that Archelaus would be their king that they went ahead of him and they went to Rome and they gave their reasons why he should not be installed as a king. And when he got there, Archelaus didn't get exactly what he wanted. He did get the kingdom of Judah, but he was never called a king.
He died being a king wannabe. And when he came back, he punished those who were against him, severely killing them because he was as evil as his father. Well, that's the background really to today's parable, but you'll notice that there is a parallel to Jesus.
But of course, there are also many dissimilarities, but let's take and look at the text itself. Jesus is speaking in Luke chapter 19 verse 11. And as they heard these things, he proceeded to tell them a parable because he was near to Jerusalem and because they suppose the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. Now, Jesus is in Jericho.
The previous story is on Zacchaeus who was converted there in Jericho. Jesus is about 17 or 18 miles from Jerusalem. And you must realize that in those days, the Jews believed that when Messiah came, the kingdom would be established.
All of those verses in the Old Testament about the greatness of God and how that the law would go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem and there would be peace and prosperity in the world. They believe that when Messiah came, that's what would happen. The problem was that here they were beginning to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but the kingdom wasn't being established. So Jesus told this parable to help them to understand that that before he receives the kingdom, he has to go away first. He's talking about the ascension and then when he comes back, it is then that he is going to evaluate his servants. And that's where the parable begins. You'll notice that Jesus said, a nobleman verse 12, went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.
So much that is like Archelaus. Calling 10 of his servants, he gave them 10 minas and said to them, engage in business until I come. But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him saying, we do not want this man to reign over us. 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. The first came before him saying, Lord, your mina has made 10 minas more. He said to him, well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over 10 cities. The second came saying, Lord, your mina has made five minas.
And he said to him, and you are to be over five cities just that far for a moment. Let's just look at this parable rather quickly. We'll go through it and help us to unpack it to understand what Jesus is talking about. First of all, the parable opens with the resources being distributed. Now, if you know your Bibles, you'll be tempted to confuse this parable with another one in the 25th chapter of Matthew. In Matthew 25, there is an uneven distribution of talents. You have one person having five talents, somebody else three, somebody else one. And then it says, each according to his ability.
That's not what is happening here. Amina, by the way, was about three months wages. The amount really doesn't matter for us to understand the point that Jesus is making. But here you have 10 servants, and each servant gets one mina.
Now, what could the mina possibly refer to? What is it that all servants of the Lord have in common? Because this has nothing to do with one's ability. Abilities are unevenly distributed.
Opportunities are unevenly distributed. But in this case, everyone gets the same. I believe that the only thing it can really be is the gospel itself which saves us. And that gospel message that Jesus died for sinners, and because he died and was raised again, he can become our savior and reconcile us to God. That message, that deposit of the gospel is given to every one of God's servants. In fact, you can't be a servant unless you understand the gospel and believe. It's interesting that the Apostle Paul frequently uses the phrase entrusted with the gospel. First Thessalonians chapter 1, he talks about the fact that God entrusted me.
By the way, isn't that a beautiful word? God entrusted me with the gospel. This king trusted his servants and he gave them something special. Christ in you, the hope of glory. We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. We are entrusted with a message that saved us. But now that it saved us, what are we going to do with it? So the resources are distributed and every one of the servants gets the same. Do you realize today that the same Holy Spirit that saved the Apostle Paul is the same one who saved you, who saved D.L. Moody, who saved Billy Graham, the great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon in England, whose grave I visited a number of years ago.
We are all united in the good news of the gospel. But now instructions are given and the instructions are very clear. And what the nobleman says is, engage in business, verse 13, until I come. I've given you something and now I want you to do something with what I've given you.
Because the whole issue here is one of accountability. God says, I am going to hold you accountable for what you do with the gift that I gave you. Do something with it so that when I return, I'll get a good return on my investment. The message isn't yours. The Bible talks about the gospel as belonging to God. It is God's gospel that he has given to us. The question is, what are we going to do with it? So the instructions are clear. Invest it.
Do business until I return. Now we get to, first of all, the faithful servants who are rewarded. And I read the text a moment ago. The first came before him, verse 16, saying, Lord, your mina has made 10 minas more. And he said to him, well done, good servant, because you've been faithful in a very little, you'll have authority over 10 cities.
Wow. Here's a man who actually hears from the lips of Jesus, well done. What beautiful words to think that a servant would actually hear that. But we have two servants in the text.
We have one who is faithful and the other not so faithful. The second servant says that your mina has made five minas. And he said, you are to be over five cities. Boy, we have to pause here. The topic here being discussed in this verse is the judgment seat of Christ.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 10, for we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad. Well, this is reckoning time. This is not a time that is really unimportant that you can forget about.
This is what you should live for. Now we don't understand the 10 cities. You know, how many cities are there going to be in the millennial kingdom?
How many cities throughout all of eternity are we actually going to be ruling these cities? Well, the answer seems to be yes for the faithful. You have one man who receives good and faithful servant from the lips of Jesus. The other doesn't, but he's not so faithful, but he still gets five cities.
I've been talking very quickly. I want to talk to you directly so that you understand from my heart to yours about this. Most people, when they think about rewards at the judgment seat of Christ, they think it's going to be crowns, medallions that we throw at the feet of Jesus and then walk away and forget how badly we lived on earth. We might be getting those crowns and we might throw them at the feet of Jesus, but we're going to have to pick them up again because the Bible says that we're going to rule with him. But not everyone in heaven is going to receive the same reward. Remember this, this is a thorough evaluation.
This is very, very serious. Some people will have more responsibility in heaven. It isn't just the idea of some crown that I throw at the feet of Jesus. No, this has to do with responsibilities in the kingdom. Those of you have taken college entrance exams.
The reason for that exam is to know where you are to be slotted and in terms of what courses you can take. All of life is an entrance exam, so God knows how much responsibility to give you in the kingdom. The way you live now will have consequences during the millennial reign and probably throughout all of eternity. Wow.
Jesus said, he who overcomes, to him I shall grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame and sat with my father on his throne. I read this and I say, how disproportionate. I mean, the person who used his mina to get 10 minas, I mean, that was great. That's 1000%, isn't it? I'm just doing that in my head as I'm moving along.
You remember, I always say that when it comes to arithmetic, as long as I'm right 90% of the time, I mean, who cares about the other 5%? 1000%, that's great, but does he really deserve ruling over 10 cities? Of course not. Oh, God is so generous when he rewards faithfulness, it boggles the mind. Well, that's the faithful servants, but we're not at the end of the story and now the story becomes even more sobering, because there is one servant who isn't faithful. You'll notice it says, and verse 19, you're to have rulership over five cities, but verse 20, another came saying, Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you're a severe man. You take what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow, and Jesus said to him, okay, I understand, you've got some bitterness in your fears, so I'm going to excuse you. That's what your translation says, you're reading from the reversed vision.
He says in verse 22, 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. Is that your opinion of me? Why then did you not put my money in the bank and at my coming I could have collected it with interest?
This takes our breath away. A couple of comments. First, the man was filled with fear. He said, you know, God, you're very austere, you are very unknowable, you are very judgmental, and so I was afraid and I accepted this mina, I accepted the gospel, but I kept it wrapped up because I'm so full of fear about you, I decided to play it safe. I wasn't willing to take any kind of a risk at all for the purpose of the gospel.
I only played that which was safe, that which was close to the vest, as the saying goes. And then not only was he fearful, but the bottom line, of course, was that he was very faithless. The reason, you see, he took the gospel for himself, hid it in a handkerchief, never shared it, is because he did not have confidence that the gospel had the ability to multiply itself. He didn't believe that if the gospel were shared and if he got involved in propagating the gospel that it would have an eternal impact. So he was content to have the gospel be something that he enjoyed and benefited from, but he himself was not going to do anything to advance it.
No interest in the bank. You know, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. I've been reading the New Testament ever since I was a child, and I have to tell you that sometimes, even now, I find some of the things that Jesus taught to be puzzling.
But he did that deliberately so that we might think and that we might think deeply. And here at this ministry of Running to Win, we emphasize, of course, the gospel, but we also want to help you make it all the way to the finish line to understand the deeper things that Jesus had to say. Would you consider helping us? Right now, we're in the midst of a matching gift challenge.
That is to say that your gift will be doubled during this period of time. For more information, here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. This would be a wonderful time to give. You may never have contributed to this ministry before. Begin today. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. When a marriage is built on a shaky foundation, trouble is almost always inevitable.
Here's the story of one anonymous Running to Win listener. My daughter married a man who was unfaithful to her during their courtship, but promised he would be faithful to her in marriage. Well, now they've been married for four years and have a child, he has now broken that promise. He's begging to come back to his wife. My question is, do people with a history of sexual immorality ever really change, or do they just make repeated promises that they will change? I want to thank you today for writing to us and connecting with us and asking this very difficult question.
I need to begin by saying that my heart goes out to your daughter. Unfortunately, there were red flags in her courtship days that she should have picked up on, because you say that he was unfaithful to her during their courtship, and I assume that she knew that he was being unfaithful. But then he made a promise that he was going to change, and I'm sure that he meant very well. No question there about motive. The problem is that there is something about sexual sin that can become so deeply ingrained, that desires can become so difficult, and because you've walked through that door and pushed back the guidelines of God, it's so much easier to do it again and again.
What am I saying? Number one, I hope he will change, but he probably won't until his feet are held to the fire. Your daughter has the responsibility of forgiving him. She does not have the responsibility of being reconciled to him. Reconciliation is based on forgiveness, trust, and respect, so he has a long way to go before he achieves that. But at the same time, I would encourage your daughter to receive counsel, and he should be receiving counsel as well, to see whether or not it's just not a matter of sincerity on his part, but a matter of understanding how deeply he needs accountability and needs God. Without that, I'm not giving your daughter a whole lot of hope. People can easily make promises to change, like one translation says Jesus said, talk is cheap, and they may even mean it.
But real heart change is more difficult. I hope that your daughter receives some counsel that will enable her to trust her husband again, but the road is going to be rocky, and perhaps quite long. So God bless you, and I hope that this marriage will be saved by God's grace, accountability, and counsel. Some words of wisdom from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Jesus told of three servants who got money to invest. Two made substantial returns and were rewarded.
The third wrapped his in a piece of cloth and felt his master's wrath. Next time on Running to Win, an interpretation of this parable that likens money to the gospel and how we spread it. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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