The passage we’re looking at today makes us ask what it means to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. We’ll see something of who Jesus is, because that’s key to understanding why you should serve him. And we’ll think about what really serving him looks like, compared to fake and shallow pretence.
You’ll find it helpful, if you want to be a faithful servant of Jesus.
And I hope you’ll hear the warning sirens if you have a more take-it-or-leave-it mindset about Christ, or about the things that matter to him.
Jesus is your king (11-14)
In these verses, Jesus is in Jericho, about a day’s walk away from his target destination, Jerusalem.
Next time, we’re going to see his Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem. It’s all very kingly – deliberately so. Jesus will take steps to ensure you can’t miss his claim to be the Messiah. He’s deliberately fulfilling Zechariah 9:9 Look, your King is coming to you; he is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey… But Zechariah says many other things about when the Messiah comes, and God’s kingdom stretches out, such as Zechariah 12:9 On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
So, as his disciples see Jesus making his way to Jerusalem, and as he more openly carries the title, “Messiah,” their expectations about what will happen are high, but could be very wrong.
So read Luke 19:11.
Need the right understanding of Messiah
Jesus is the Messiah, and the Old Testament prophecies are all true, but you need to grasp the nature of his kingship.
- Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD shines over you. For look, darkness will cover the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the LORD will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to your shining brightness.
- Psalm 2:7-9, as the LORD declares to his anointed king, I will declare the Lord’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with an iron sceptre; you will shatter them like pottery.”
Jesus is the one who shines God’s glory into your darkness. He is the Son of God, and all the nations of the earth are his. But that final anointing, his final coronation, didn’t come at Jerusalem. To help you understand, Jesus told a parable.
Read Luke 19:12-14. Verse 12 speaks of the nobleman who had to go away to be made king. It was typical at that time. Herod had to go to Rome to be made king of Judea. In fact, if anyone had been unhappy with that you could also send a delegation with him to say, “We don’t want this man to rule over us.”
But in this parable, the nobleman is (obviously) Jesus.
Christ’s Ascension is key
Jesus’ departure to be made king was after his resurrection. As soon as the death of Queen Elizabeth II was announced, Charles was pronounced King. He wouldn’t be crowned until some time later, but he was still king.
That’s a little like Jesus – he was anointed with the Holy Spirit in his incarnation (his conception), again at his Baptism, and again at his ascension into heaven: Acts 2:32 he has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit [to pour out on his people].
It’s at his ascension into heaven that he has been fully crowned!
Daniel 7:13-14 speaks about it: suddenly one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. He was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.
Revelation 5 portrays Jesus approaching the throne as a Lamb that has been slain for our salvation. And that’s who and where Jesus is: He is your king, king over all creation, in heaven – until the day of his return to the earth. And that’s when we’ll see all those prophecies finally, ultimately fulfilled in him.
In the meantime:
Be a faithful servant of Jesus (15-19)
In the parable, the nobleman goes away to become king – and then he returns to see what his servants have done. He’d given them a mina each (about 3 months’ wages).
We were told there were 10 servants, but we only hear about 3. The first two had done well. Read Luke 19:15-19.
If Jesus is the nobleman-made-king now returned, who are these faithful servants? They are those who have taken what Christ has given and produced fruit in keeping. What has Christ given? Eternal life.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He said he came to seek and to save the lost.
He has taught us so much in Luke’s gospel:
- Your sin (your offence to God) excludes you from the kingdom of God – you must repent.
- And your attachment to this passing, temporary world will keep you from God too – though he calls you to eternal treasure in Christ.
When Jesus died, he did so very deliberately. He was taking the punishment that your sins deserve, so that God could forgive you and still be just (all sins are punished). As you repent of your sin and turn to God and ask for forgiveness, he will forgive you – for all your sin. He will even adopt you, and give you the Holy Spirit to live in you, working in you to grow you in Christlikeness. And he will work through you to proclaim the good news of Jesus to others – your family, colleagues, friends. He enables you to do the work he gives you, and he provides promises, gifts, strength and help for you to live out your Christian life.
These are the “minas” he gives you.
So, for those who are trusting in Christ for eternal life, and those looking forward to his return, what are you doing with what he has given you?
Are you doing well? Will Jesus say, “Well done, good servant”?
You can boil down your progress with two broad measures:
- Are you becoming more like Jesus?
- Are you telling others about Jesus?
Are you becoming more like Jesus?
- Do you think about him every day? If you’re not reading the Bible every day, you’re probably not thinking much about Christ.
- Are you spending time with him in prayer? It’s hard to become like someone when you hardly know them, and you can’t get to know someone without spending time with them.
- Is church a kind of Sunday add-on, or is it a precious means of grace to you, to come to know Christ better?
- Do you walk out and just forget everything said?
- Are you encouraging other Christians, and being encouraged by them?
- Are you learning the depth of forgiveness of God to you, and what is required for you to forgive others?
- Is serving others becoming a delight? What about loving the unlovely, helping the needy?
- How’s your language? Full of grace and truth, or gossip or sharpness?
Are you telling others about Jesus?
- Do you ever engage with unbelievers?
- Are you working to develop and maintain friendships with people who don’t know Jesus?
- Do you regularly pray for opportunity to witness, or for boldness to speak up?
- How often are you speaking up, standing out, even jeopardising friendships and relationships because you feel compelled to speak Christian truth into the world’s lies?
- Do you really have a distinctive holiness of life, or do you fit in with the language, the jokes, the culture of the people around you?
- If people don’t see you’re different because of Jesus, do you think they’ll ever want to know him?
Notice that you’re not given target numbers of converts to faith – only God can bring someone to salvation. But he will use you to speak, to point someone to Jesus.
And remember, all of these things aren’t your ticket to heaven! These are the overflow of a heart increasingly devoted to Jesus, your king, your Lord, your treasure.
Even better, as you grow in these things you will love him all the more, and desire to grow in them more and more! The motivation for growth isn’t the hope of reward, other than to hear Jesus say to you, “Well done, faithful servant.” So keep going, patiently enduring all sorts of things, until the Lord returns. He is the delight of eternity.
But back in the parable, there’s another servant to look at:
Know the king (20-27)
Read Luke 19:20-21. The servant had done nothing with what he’d been given, and then tried to blame the king. The description of the king as harsh is completely out of step with what we’ve just seen. The king gave lavish rewards to the other two servants. They’d done well with 3 months’ wages so he gave them many towns to rule over!
This servant clearly didn’t know the king at all. Read Luke 19:22-23.
It’s a good question: Why didn’t the servant put it in the bank to earn interest? Because he didn’t know the king. He had no loyalty or feelings to the king, only fear. Maybe, even, he didn’t really think the king would be back. Possibly, he wanted the delegation to succeed in preventing the nobleman being made king!
Whatever the reason, the bottom line was simple: He’d chosen not to serve the king.
He’d been given the same opportunity to serve the king as everyone else, but he deliberately chose not to. Whatever comes his way, it’s on him. He has no-one to blame.
Read Luke 19:24-27.
For that man, the king was his king whether he liked it or not.
He was a subject of the king, but he was completely outside the king’s blessing – he was an object of the king’s wrath, punished.
Unbelief doesn’t change the facts
With Jesus as king, on his return he will find many, many people like that man.
You have the same offer of eternal life from Jesus as anyone else. Christ came to seek and save the lost: You. Countless millions have eternal life in Christ. If you don’t, it’s because you had the same opportunities and gifts as everyone else, but you chose to ignore them. You rejected the king, and in the end he will reject you.
Maybe even more terrifying is if you’re hearing this and you’re a kind of “look-alike” Christian. You could be mistaken for being a Christian – you might even think you are one – but you don’t know the king.
Christ knows who the fakers are. And he’ll reject a faker as pitilessly as the worst unbeliever. Don’t kid yourself; you can’t kid Jesus.
If you’re rejected by Christ on the judgment day it will be on you. Today, Jesus reigns in heaven. He is your king. And he calls you to come in repentance and faith, to live for him and with him forever.
Please, don’t miss out. Come to him today, while you can.
- Jesus is your king.
- Be a faithful servant of Jesus, growing more like and telling others about him.
- And be sure that you know the king – because you can! He invites you to know him and enjoy him forever.
See Acts 2:32-38.