Which Servant Are You: Luke 19:11-27

Focus Passage: Luke 19:11-27 (NIrV)

 11 While the people were listening to these things, Jesus told them a story. He was near Jerusalem. The people thought that God’s kingdom was going to appear right away.

 12 Jesus said, “A man from an important family went to a country far away. He went there to be made king and then return home. 13 So he sent for ten of his servants. He gave them each about three months’ pay. ‘Put this money to work until I come back,’ he said.

 14 “But those he ruled over hated him. They sent some messengers after him. They were sent to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

 15 “But he was made king and returned home. Then he sent for the servants he had given the money to. He wanted to find out what they had earned with it.

 16 “The first one came to him. He said, ‘Sir, your money has earned ten times as much.’

 17 “ ‘You have done well, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘You have been faithful in a very small matter. So I will put you in charge of ten towns.’

 18 “The second servant came to his master. He said, ‘Sir, your money has earned five times as much.’

 19 “His master answered, ‘I will put you in charge of five towns.’

 20 “Then another servant came. He said, ‘Sir, here is your money. I have kept it hidden in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you. You are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in. You harvest what you did not plant.’

 22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you evil servant! So you knew that I am a hard man? You knew that I take out what I did not put in? You knew that I harvest what I did not plant? 23 Then why didn’t you put my money in the bank? When I came back, I could have collected it with interest.’

 24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his money away from him. Give it to the one who has ten times as much.’

 25 “ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten times as much!’

 26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that everyone who has will be given more. But here is what will happen to anyone who has nothing. Even what he has will be taken away from him. 27 And what about my enemies who did not want me to be king over them? Bring them here! Kill them in front of me!’ ”

Read Luke 19:11-27 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

While there are plenty of things we could focus in on in this parable, let’s focus in on the ten servants. In Matthew’s similar parable, there are only three servants, but this parable has enough unique details in it that makes me think Jesus shared this similar parable to a different group of people. In our discussion of the ten servants, our big idea will surface.

First off, we have ten servants, and some people who are “enemies” of the “important man”. For the purposes of our discussion, we’ll include these two groups of people together, though there are not any details to keep them from being two distinct groups.

The first and second servants see this as an opportunity to show their leadership ability. The first servant is especially resourceful, turning three months of pay into thirty months of pay – and presumably not using any of it to live off of. The second servant is still resourceful, but his accomplishment is turning the three months of pay into fifteen months – and also presumably not using any of it to live off of.

These first two servants are exceptionally resourceful, and because they freely bring the money back to the important man (now king), we can rightfully assume that they are not included in the group of enemies.

The third servant’s defining quality is fear. Fear of the important man, fear of making a mistake, fear of even trying something. He does seem to realize that this is a test, but he doesn’t conclude that he is being tested on the results. The important man says that he wants these servants to put the money to “work” (v. 13), but this servant seems to scared and/or timid to do anything with the money other than hide it. At the new king’s return, we see that his fear to move forward cost him the opportunity to be positively noticed. Instead he is chastised and the money taken and given to servant #1.

The third servant also freely brings the money back, so we can assume that while he isn’t very bright or resourceful, he is not among the enemies of the new king.

The last seven servants are not mentioned, which implies that they either squandered the money, didn’t bring anything back, and/or they are all enemies of the new king. These enemy-servants are the least bright of all. When the important man left, there was no question or doubt that he would be made king. These enemies seem to think that this detail is up for debate, and that they can change this course in history – but they are mistaken.

This arrogance cost them their lives, which leads us to our big idea for this passage: Jesus has left each of us with resources and opportunity while He is “being crowned King”. This detail is not up for debate and won’t be changed. When He returns, would it be better to have been resourceful, or an enemy?

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Questioning the Questioners: Matthew 21:23-27

Focus Passage: Matthew 21:23-27 (CEV)

23 Jesus had gone into the temple and was teaching when the chief priests and the leaders of the people came up to him. They asked, “What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus answered, “I have just one question to ask you. If you answer it, I will tell you where I got the right to do these things. 25 Who gave John the right to baptize? Was it God in heaven or merely some human being?”

They thought it over and said to each other, “We can’t say that God gave John this right. Jesus will ask us why we didn’t believe John. 26 On the other hand, these people think that John was a prophet, and we are afraid of what they might do to us. That’s why we can’t say that it was merely some human who gave John the right to baptize.” 27 So they told Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said, “Then I won’t tell you who gave me the right to do what I do.”

Read Matthew 21:23-27 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

On one of Jesus’ trips to the temple, He is challenged with a question about where He got His authority. This question is significant, because at this later stage of His ministry, Jesus cannot afford to slip up in a way that would make Him lose credibility.

But while the Pharisees question was a trap, Jesus responds with an equally trapping counter question. Mathew tells us that Jesus responded by saying, “I have just one question to ask you. If you answer it, I will tell you where I got the right to do these things. Who gave John the right to baptize? Was it God in heaven or merely some human being?” (v. 24-25a)

In my mind, Jesus responds without even missing a breath. He promises to answer them if they answer a question for Him. It is as though Jesus had been waiting for them to ask this question, and Jesus may have been surprised that it had taken this long.

The question Jesus gives is almost identical, but it is about someone else – John the Baptist – and it is focused in on the same issue: authority.

The Pharisees discuss their possible responses and realize that they are trapped by their unbelief and by the crowd’s opinion. By asking a counter question, Jesus successfully avoided answering a question that would have either damaged His reputation, or prematurely ended His ministry.

We can learn from Jesus that sometimes countering a challenging question with a different question is the best response we can give. While Jesus could have answered with a direct statement, or even with an indirect one, neither option would have been the best response in this case. Sometimes, the right question shared at the right time is the best response we can give.

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A Circumstantial Miracle: John 4:46-54

Focus Passage: John 4:46-54 (NCV)

46 Jesus went again to visit Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. One of the king’s important officers lived in the city of Capernaum, and his son was sick. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to Jesus and begged him to come to Capernaum and heal his son, because his son was almost dead. 48 Jesus said to him, “You people must see signs and miracles before you will believe in me.”

49 The officer said, “Sir, come before my child dies.”

50 Jesus answered, “Go. Your son will live.”

The man believed what Jesus told him and went home. 51 On the way the man’s servants came and met him and told him, “Your son is alive.”

52 The man asked, “What time did my son begin to get well?”

They answered, “Yesterday at one o’clock the fever left him.”

53 The father knew that one o’clock was the exact time that Jesus had said, “Your son will live.” So the man and all the people who lived in his house believed in Jesus.

54 That was the second miracle Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.

Read John 4:46-54 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In our passage for today, we have a great example of what it is like for someone experiencing an event when compared with someone looking at the evidence from the outside. To a skeptical eye, this miracle Jesus does could be rationalized away using the term “circumstantial evidence” – which is another way of saying, “there could be a connection, but there is no way to definitively prove it.”

Jesus prophesied that the official’s son will live by responding, “Go. Your son will live,” While this appears to be a literal statement, Jesus could be symbolically talking of a future life in heaven, or even simply that a doctor present will successfully break the fever.

However, this is looking from a skeptical third party set of eyes. Those within the heart of the situation saw things differently, starting with the official himself: “The father knew that one o’clock was the exact time that Jesus had said, ‘Your son will live.’ So the man and all the people who lived in his house believed in Jesus.” (v. 53)

It is almost certain that this official had hired the best doctors in the area to come and help heal his son, and none of them would have been successful. This is strongly implied in the father’s words when he begs Jesus to “come before my child dies.” (v. 49)

Jesus was this official’s last hope, and experiencing a miracle for him was significantly different than hearing about the miracle as a person in the crowd. This official and everyone living in his home believed in Jesus.

Whether one chooses to rationalize a circumstantial miracle away or not, we can see from those closest to the event that they clearly saw the miracle present in this event – and they tag Jesus as the Source behind this healing.

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Does Jesus Know You: Luke 13:22-30

Focus Passage: Luke 13:22-30 (NIV)

 22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

      He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
      “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

 28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Read Luke 13:22-30 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Like most passages in these journal entries, there are numerous ideas that stand out to me. Today’s entry is no exception. In this journal entry, we’ll focus on one of these ideas and what it means for each of us.

Probably the most unsettling verse in this passage is verse 25: “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’”

This verse is very unsettling because it clearly shares that there will be a point in time where it will be too late to accept Christ. There will be people who thought they could wait, but then end up missing out.

What makes verse 25 even more disturbing is how the people respond in verse 26: “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’”

The people who are left out are very familiar with Jesus. They know who He is and they seem to have spent time with Him, but something is missing, and that something is revealed in verse 27: “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’”

This dialog leads us to the really big idea for this journal entry: It doesn’t matter whether we know Jesus; what matters is that Jesus knows us!

This challenges the idea of “once-saved-always-saved” that many Christians believe, or the idea that a simple prayer is all it takes. Having eaten and drank with someone says that they knew each other at one point, but some point in the past doesn’t mean that there is an on-going relationship in the present.

This is a challenging thought for me, because it pushes me to be a lot more intentional about my time with Jesus. Quiet time is a start, but for it to be effective, it must be “quiet time with Jesus”. Busy time is inevitable, but instead, why not make it “busy time with Jesus”. Sure the busyness might be jumping between work “emergencies”, but what would happen if you thought of it as time you are spending with Jesus, where the two of you are tackling the tasks together?

This is a novel, mind-stretching thought. However with that said, remember our big idea: It doesn’t matter whether you know Jesus; what matters is that Jesus knows you!

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