“How Will We Meet the King When He Returns?”

(Luke 19:11-27 – Last Judgment – November 10, 2019)

Luke 19:11-27 – Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’ “

Dear fellow Redeemed in Christ Jesus, our good Savior and King:

Can you remember times in childhood when you were given certain chores to do while your parents were going away? Maybe you had to clean the house, or weed the garden, or take care of the animals, and your parents said, “This needs to be done by the time we get home.” I can remember being assigned chores. I know from experience that attitude plays a big part in getting work done. One child may react to chores with a rebellious attitude, complaining and getting nothing done. Another child may pretend to get his work done, taking shortcuts and trying to hide unfinished work. But what a difference it makes when a child goes about his chores with an attitude of love and honor toward his parents. In the end, parents can see the difference.

In the parable before us, it is not parents who are going away for a while, but a king. He leaves his servants in charge of work while he is gone. But when he returns, he finds different attitudes toward him have produced different results. He then rewards each as he deserves.

This parable pictures Christ’s return at the Last Day, when He will judge the attitude of every heart. And we ask: “How Will We Meet the King When He Returns?” 1) Like the rebellious subjects who openly dishonored Him? 2) Like the hypocritical servant who secretly dishonored Him? Or 3) Like the faithful servants who truly loved and honored Him?

1) Like the rebellious subjects who openly dishonored Him?

Jesus speaks of Himself as He says: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.” Jesus’ birth was indeed noble. As for His human nature, He was born of the royal family of King David. Yet, He who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary is also the Son of God, begotten of His Father from eternity – the King of heaven!

In the highest sense, this Man of noble birth has gone to a distant country to receive a kingdom. After Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, God the Father “has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10).

So what sort of attitude should we have toward such a King? We certainly do not want to be found with the attitude of the rebellious subjects in the parable who openly dishonored the king.

It says: “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.'” John 1:10-11 says: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” As Jesus walked on earth His words and miracles proclaimed: “I am your heaven-sent King! I have come to save you from sin, death, and Satan’s kingdom!” But many took offense at Him. They wanted a different king, a worldly king. When Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your king?” they said, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).

This is the attitude of the unbelieving world: “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Many people may think they honor Jesus by calling Him a great teacher or prophet. But they do not honor Him as their only Savior and King. Jesus said “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23). Apart from faith in Jesus they do not honor heaven’s King. Many people live by the attitude: “I live by my own self-rule. I won’t be limited by this Jesus.” Their sinful lifestyle, their unrepented sin, cries: “We will not have this man to reign over us.”

When Jesus returns, we do not want to be found with this attitude of rebellion. In the parable, the king says: “Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says it will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

2) Like the hypocritical servant who secretly dishonored Him?

Now in the parable, Jesus deals with a second group of unbelievers who will fare no better than the first in the Last Judgment. On the outside, they appear to be the King’s faithful servants. But they are hypocrites. In the secret attitude of their hearts they really dishonor Him.

Jesus says of the nobleman going to claim His kingship: “He called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.'” Here again, Jesus pictures Himself. After finishing His work of winning our salvation He entrusted to His servants, His Church, the treasure of His Gospel. We have the Good News that His death on the cross has paid for our sins. Our resurrected Savior gives us His treasure of eternal life! He delivers the boundless wealth of His Kingdom to us through His Gospel in Word and Sacrament. He wants us to make use of His treasure, taking His promises to heart and growing in faith. He also wants us to share His Gospel treasure with others, that they too may be saved. Heaven’s King also gives us many earthly gifts for serving in His Kingdom – our abilities, our possessions, our time. Why shouldn’t we use all He gives with an attitude of thankfulness? We are servants of a good King, who loves us so much that He gave His life for our eternal life! We want to use His good gifts to His glory!

But despite His goodness, there are some among His servants who secretly despise Him and His gifts. In the parable, we hear of a servant who comes before the king and says: “Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.” Why would a servant of the good King hide His treasure instead of put it to use?  It shows a problem in the attitude of the heart. It is a picture of how a hypocrite treats the treasure of Christ’s Gospel. Outwardly he appears as a loyal servant. He makes a show of holding onto the Gospel when it makes him look good; but really he sets the Gospel aside and makes no personal use of it. He tries to sound respectful before the King. But inwardly we see that his view of the King is very low, as he says: “For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.”

In his heart, the hypocrite does not see Christ as a good King who gives heavenly treasures. He sees Him as a tyrant who demands unfair service. His hidden attitude toward Christ is: “Why should I serve Him? Why should I lose my life for His sake? What will that profit me?” A hypocrite has no real joy in serving Christ but only in serving himself. He may hide His gifts under a cloth of false humility; but heaven’s King sees in his heart the proud self-serving attitude. Or he may do all kinds of impressive work in the church; but heaven’s King sees in his heart the attitude of self-righteousness and seeking praise of men.

In the Last Judgment heaven’s King will expose hypocrisy. In the parable the king says: “Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas… For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” False servants of Christ will lose everything, just as those who openly rejected His kingship.

3) Like the faithful servants who truly loved and honored Him

Jesus speaks strongly against sin, unbelief, and hypocrisy. Is it because He takes pleasure in pronouncing judgment? No. Jesus’ true delight is in preaching His Gospel that sets sinners free from damnation. As our God and Savior, He wants all people to be saved and to know His truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Here He preaches sternly so that sinners will repent and believe in Him. And now He tells what a rich reward of grace awaits those who are His true servants by faith.

In the parable, the king returned to see what his servants gained. The first servant said: “Master, your mina has earned ten minas.” The King said: “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” Then the second servant also said: “Master, your mina has earned five minas.” The king told him: “You also be over five cities.”

See how the faithful servants say to their king, “your mina has earned…” They give all credit for any gain to the treasure the King had entrusted to them. They do not take credit for themselves. Likewise, as servants of our heavenly King, how could we take any credit? We know that any worthwhile service we render in life is only by Jesus’ grace and power working through us.

Instead, we confess our many shortcomings in serving Him. We confess our own laziness and selfishness. We confess our seeking praise from men. We confess our service which was done grudgingly and with complaining. We confess our sinful attitudes in our own service.

But we do not have to serve heaven’s King in fear. We confess our sins, knowing that Jesus is our gracious and forgiving King. He is our Savior, who came from heaven to set us free from our sin and its consequences. He has dressed us in the royal robe of His righteousness. As we take to heart His goodness, He gives us an attitude of faith, an attitude of serving Him out of thankfulness, an attitude in which our service truly honors Him.

In the parable the king says: “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities… over five cities.” See how our King’s reward of grace will be far beyond proportion to our service. For anything we accomplish in this life, all the credit goes to Christ and His grace and power working through us. Yet He will reward us, His servants, most generously – as the parable puts it, with authority to rule over five and ten cities!

Does it seem strange that Jesus speaks of our ruling in the life to come? 2 Timothy 2:12 says: “We shall also reign with Him.” With Paul in 2 Timothy 4:8 we can say: Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” Revelation 22:5 says of all believers: “They shall reign for ever and ever.” We cannot yet fully understand what reigning with Jesus will be like. But here He pictures a wonderful glory awaiting us in heaven. Jesus invites us to live by faith, and to serve Him in joyful expectation of His coming.

Earlier, I spoke of different attitudes a child might have when his parents leave him in charge of chores. Have you ever seen a child’s attitude when he knows that, after all the chores are done, his parents are coming home with something very special for him! Maybe they will return with a brand new bicycle, or take him to an amusement park. Watch as he goes about his work with an attitude of thankfulness and joy, eager to honor his parents for their good gifts and love!

We live as the children of God in Christ. Heaven’s King promises to return with the entire treasury of His Kingdom to give to us. He is preparing to take us to a place of wonders beyond our imagination. Are not our hearts filled with thankfulness and joy? Are we not eager to honor and serve Him for His good gifts and love? Yes, we want to put His Gospel treasure to use in our lives and grow in faith. We want to take His Gospel treasure and share it with others. In everything we do we want our lives to say, “Thank You, my loving Savior and King! Let Your Kingdom come to many others as You have given it to me. Let me be Your servant to carry Your Gospel forward!”

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.