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God’s Word for You

Luke 19:11-13 ten minas

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, January 16, 2019

11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was close to Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.  12 He said: “A nobleman went to a distant country to be appointed king and then to return.  13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I return.’

The Parable of the Ten Minas is not the same as the Parable of the Talents. They are similar, but they were told to different audiences at different times. Also, this parable has an additional item which is completely absent from the Talents, namely, the rebellious subjects and the judgment on them.

Since the people at Zacchaeus’ house were wondering about the coming of the kingdom of God, Jesus explained the true meaning and working of the kingdom through a parable, as well as an explanation of the interval of time remaining before the end. Unlike most other parables, this one has many points of contact directly in comparison with Jesus.

The “nobleman” was Jesus himself. Jesus came from the line of King David, and God had promised David that the Savior would be descended from him (2 Samuel 7:12-14). God also promised that the kingdom of the Messiah would be a kingdom “forever” (2 Samuel 7:13), but people seemed to overlook that detail. Jesus’ descent from the line of King David is recorded in Luke 3:23-31.

The “distant country” does not fit perfectly into an application, but is here to help carry along the story. In a very real sense, the distant country is heaven, but the subjects of the new king and their delegation is certainly not from heaven, nor is it from hell. We will apply that part of the parable later.

The appointment as king is truly the ascension of Jesus into heaven, and the praise of the crowning of Jesus took place in part on Palm Sunday, which in the context of this account is just three days away.

The value of the mina was about 3 months’ wages. Some older commentaries attempt a dollar value, but the age of the commentary (i.e., Nineteenth Century) always needs to be taken into consideration. The mina was known in Old Testament times, when it had a general value of 50 shekels. In Ezekiel 45:12 it was revalued at 60 shekels. It was used to measure weight or amounts of gold, either for artistic purposes (1 Kings 10:17) or actual money (Ezra 2:69; Nehemiah 7:71-72). The famous handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5:5 and 5:25-28 included the pairing, “Mene, mene,” which could be a reference to the mina or the Aramaic word for “counted, numbered.”

We will see later in the parable that putting the minas to work means proclaiming the gospel, and so we each need to consider: What do I do with the gospel of Jesus? If we are not careful with our reading of the parable, we might be led to believe that Jesus is proclaiming a results-oriented judgment of our faith, when the rest of Scripture is faithfulness-oriented. “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Also: “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land” (Psalm 101:6), and “A faithful man will be richly blessed” (Proverbs 28:20).

As with every parable, and with every word from the Lord, we want to be prepared to understand what he is saying to us without throwing up walls of uncertainty and barriers of misunderstanding even before the words come. We want to open our hearts, and let our Lord speak to us. “Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps” (Psalm 85:13). We are truly prepared when we are covered by his righteousness. Covered by his forgiveness, guided by the Holy Spirit, let us prepare to listen, to learn, and to love what Jesus says.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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