Try And Fail vs. Doing Nothing: 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!

Our passage for this journal entry focuses on a parable Jesus shares about a master entrusting his servants with money (a.k.a. talents in some translations). In this journal entry, let’s look a little closer at what the parable says (and doesn’t say) about the 10 servants, and uncover any additional insights hidden within this parable.

The first mention of servants is in verse 13: “So he sent for ten of his servants.” This stands out in my mind because the wording leaves open the possibility that this man had dozens of servants, and that these ten are special.

It is also significant because the way the following verse is worded, “But those he ruled over hated him.” (v.14). This verse could easily be referring to the servants as a large group, a smaller group of the servants, or those who lived in the region where this important man lived.

What I find interesting in these two verses is the implied tension present. There could be tension between the servants who were picked and those who were not, and there is tension because there is a group of people who disliked the fact that this man was going to be crowned king.

Each of these ideas brings out an interesting observation in my mind when looking at this parable as a whole. It is very possible that within the seven unaccounted for servants there were some who were not opposed to the king. If this is the case, then these servants were not punished for losing the money that was entrusted to them. With this in mind, while reading this parable, a big idea surfaced: “It is worse to do nothing with the blessings that God has given us with, than to have tried and failed.

If we are honestly working to help the people God brings our way, and in every case, they reject our help (whether the help is financial, work-related, family-focused, etc.), then God is not disappointed in us. God is more interested in helping us be the people He created us to be than to compare ourselves with those who might be more or less talented than we are. (That’s a bonus big idea that came out as I was writing this entry.) 🙂

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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