Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One thing was on Jesus’ mind a lot and he talked about it often: Judgment day. He absolutely wanted people to be prepared for it, so that nothing would catch us by surprise but would make perfect sense when it happened. To do this, he used many different illustrations. You may recall a few of them and quickly realize, there were a a lot!
There were the times when Jesus said that the last day would be like a farmer bringing in the harvest. The believers will be harvested like wheat by the angels and they will be taken into heaven, and the chaff (or unbelievers) will be gathered into bundles and burned in a fiery furnace. In that lesson, you really could understand that Judgment day would come only when the harvest was ready, not one day too soon. In a world, we may think is ready for purification, the Lord knows the time and he’ll reveal it when it’s right.
Similarly, Jesus said the last day will be like fishing. The net will be tossed over the side of the boat and it will catch every fish it encounters. Then, when it is full and drug up on shore the angels will be sorting. They will keep the good fish and destroy the bad fish, again in a fiery furnace. This was Jesus’ way of reminding us that on Judgment day there will be nobody “left behind” from his judgment. If you think you’ll be the exception, then you will need to think again!
There was Jesus talking about a wedding banquet in which the host invited all sorts of people, some rich some poor. The rich where too busy and the poor came and filled the table set before them. That parable described how the humbled sinners where welcome to dwell with Jesus for eternity, but the prideful where not.
There was also the parable of the ten virgins, five of whom where ready and waiting for the master to return; however, the other five had let their lamps burn out and they we excluded from the celebration. It was Jesus’ warning to everyone that being faithful to the end was most important, getting to heaven was not a sprint, but a marathon.
There also was the parable of the man anointed king who gives his servants minas and later returns to see what they have done with them. And of all the lessons just listed, I must tell you that this one gives me the most pause and concern. I’m a little uncomfortable with it by comparison; and I think that is ok. The question is why? Why this parable and why is it so unsettling?
The simple reason is the fact that the servants have to give and account to the King, and I don’t want to do that. They have to explain what they did with what the king gave them or they will have to explain to the king what they didn’t do with their mina.
In the lesson we see three servants highlighted, there was the one who took one mina and turned it into ten. One that took one mina and turned it into five and then there was the last guy who didn’t do anything but make an excuse for doing nothing. Clearly their king was pleased with the first two and he was very upset with the last one. Which one are you? Which one am I?
To answer that question is to anticipate what Judgment day will look like for us, and to answer the question as to what will happen; will Jesus return and bless us or will he return and have us perish… To interpret the meaning here, I think it’s first best to understand what the Mina represents and what it doesn’t. For myself, I don’t think this mina really has anything to do with money or skills per se. God’s servants are not blessed equally with money, nor do we equally possess the same skills and abilities. Sure, we are to prove faithful with our money and abilities, but that’s maybe not the point here. Yet, what we do all have equally given to us are spiritual gifts from the Lord Jesus.
All of us have the same love of God who formed us in the womb.
All of us have the same Love of Jesus that died on a cross for our sins.
All of us have the same forgiveness of sins when we repent.
All of us have the same Holy Spirit.
All of us have the same Baptism.
Nothing in all the world is more equally distributed, and certainly, they are used and lived with differently. So what is the “mina” to do…in my mind at it’s core, it’s very simple – grow! It’s not to be the same faith you started with when he returns; on Judgment day the Lord will be looking for growth! And that growth I think will take all different kinds of forms in our lives.
There is the growth of our soul and our faith. If Jesus returns in seven weeks seven weeks on the last day of the year, he should be finding a faith that is stronger than it was at some given point hopefully. Stronger than it was a year ago, stronger than it was five years ago or twenty five years ago. If not, what have we been doing?! Not much.
And such growth would be nothing if it also weren’t displayed in our actions as James once said: “I’ll show you my faith by my works.” The faith planted in you should mean we have matured in many ways over the years. I’m not the same Christian I was ten years ago and certainly not the same that I was twenty years ago…and you all can say the same about your own lives. You are more loving, you are more service oriented, you are more prayerful, you are more likely to share your faith with someone, I hope you feel that way, I hope that is all of our goals! That is not to say the person with five mina should step it up and be like the person with ten or “else”. But that is to say, there is growth and that is what Jesus wants to see and has every right to expect.
Do you know who Jesus saw growth in? I’ll tell you, he was a short man named Zacchaeus. He was the short person who climbed the sycamore-fig tree to see Jesus; and he looked ridiculous up there to the people who saw him, but not to Jesus. Jesus saw a man who was growing taller and stronger in his faith more than those who where around him. Knowing his sins and the shamefulness of his life he sought the forgiveness of Christ; and once he had received it that short man turned around and grew in his faith even more. He said, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” After he said that, Jesus said something that I’m sure blue everyone away, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” In other words, Jesus came looking for faith and he found it. That is to say, here is a guy with one mina and he has ten…and it is then no coincidence that the parable of the minas was told to Zacchaeus and all those at his house.
Now is a great time of year to be thankful for the mina. The Lord has been so good to us to bless us as he has. The Lord Jesus has been so gracious to us to die on a cross to give us heaven and to call us his brothers and sisters – to make us family. And that thankfulness should always lead us to be faithful with God’s greatest gifts and grow in them. Maybe it’s that personal time in the Word we need to get back to doing. Maybe it’s that person we have been meaning to reach out to and encourage, but just keep making excuses as to why we’ll do it later. Maybe its that project that we know would show our love to someone else, but we just never get around to doing it. Let us not be discouraged, let us not stop being faithful. Let us not take the gifts we all equally have in Christ only to wrap it in a cloth and keep it save. Get your hands dirty in service. Take your sinful nature and sand it down with the Word of God. Push yourself and grow, because the Lord loves faithful servants and he also blesses them. That is what this parable is telling us. Jesus will return and be looking for our greater spiritual maturity. Amen.