THE PARABLE OF THE MINAS LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE!

A.B. Melchizedek
8 min readFeb 24, 2024
Photo credit: Redeeming God

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.’ ”

(Luke 19:11–27)

The most popular interpretation of this parable tends to focus on the returns the servants made to the master and that is a very valid lesson to be gleaned from it but is there a new gem within this parable that a historical context would bring to bear?

A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.

The Jews were in captivity to the Romans, hence it was not unusual in the political circle of the day for a prospective ruler of the Jews to journey to Rome in order to be confirmed by Caesar. This was a journey that Herod Archelaus in their recent history (at the time) had taken.

Now, this is important because that journey was a precarious one and nobody quite knew how it was going to pan out.

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.’”

The Jews did not want Herod Archelaus to rule over them due to his brutality and they sent a delegation after his brother Herod Antipas to Rome in order to oppose him hence Jesus’ audience would have understood this context well. It was in these fragile circumstances that the master told his servants to “Do business until he came”.

These servants would have transacted in the name of their master so the demand was clear. The servants were to, in the midst of the tense political atmosphere and the hostility against their master, openly advance his interest. This was more than a command for commercial gain, it was a demand of loyalty from the servants. With every hostility they were to encounter, with every merchant who would spit in their faces for being associated with their master, they were to continue to trade in his name anyway.

So even if the master’s return was to their mind, uncertain, they did not know when he would come back or if he would come back at all, they were to continue to advance his interests. They were to risk everything; their lives, their reputations and their careers. They were to put this all on the line for their master’s cause. All their eggs were in the basket of the master successfully receiving the kingdom, if he did not, they were finished!

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.’

The master returned victorious! The servants, thankfully, were on the winning team, It is within the above context that the master’s reward for them was authority over cities, they had risked it all for him and he was compensating them for their service, evidenced by the gains they had made trading, as well as the massive risk they took in his name.

“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?”

The third servant however, did not trade. His excuse was that he feared the master but if he was really afraid, as the master rightly pointed out, he would have feared him enough to invest his money and yield interest. It would appear this servant was hedging his bets and was wary of backing the wrong horse. If the master did not come back with the kingdom, his reputation was intact because nobody had seen him represent the master, if the master came back, he could hand him his mina, either way it was a win-win for him…or so he thought…

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.’

The master trusts someone else with the resources he had committed to the unprofitable servant, he does not commit any cities to this servant’s trust and slays all his enemies, an act consistent with the brutality of Herodian reign. What is the application of all of this?

The world we live in rejects Christ consistently. There is a reason rejection of is a running theme in Jesus’ parables. They reject the vineyard owner and kill his son, the builders reject the stone which later becomes the cornerstone, they reject the invitation to the wedding feast. All that the followers of Christ have to rely, as they await His return is His word, witnessed to by His Spirit within them, that He will indeed return. Anyone professing the interests of Christs by proclaiming His message and His truth which is letting culture know it is evil and sinful risks reputational damage, infamy, cancellation and in some countries even death, yet He tells them to continue to teach everything He has commanded them (Matthew 28:18–20).

Most Christians, like our “hedge-fund” manager servant with one mina, seek to find a middle ground. They do not want to be seen as overtly “pro-Bible”, they do not want to offend the LGBTQ or pro-choice brigade. They might hide or water down the message commanded them and shrink from having or proclaiming their Christian opinions. In a culture where it is “hip” and “in fashion” to identify as anything other than “In Christ”, it is understandable, why like water, Christians are tempted to take the path of least resistance. But as the master in the parable shows us, that would simply not cut it with Christ,

He who is not with Me is against Me…” (Matthew 12:30)

This “My Christianity is between me and God” and “God knows the heart” mentality of most Christians is just cowardice dressed up and like the emperor’s new clothes, this would be made bare before Christ when he returns in His glory.

Note the master slays his enemies but not this servant. He escapes the wrath of the master because he is his servant but he does not get authority over any cities. This is a nod to a truth the church needs to keep emphasising. The gospel message (and the message alone) saves you but it is your works for Christ that entitle you to eternal rewards from the master. As it is written,

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work…” (Revelation 22:12)

The cowardly Christian might be saved “as one through fire” but their cowardice would definitely rob them off rewards from the Master.

Finally, the slaying of the master’s enemies is symbolic of the final judgment of Christ against rebellion (Read the book of Revelation for the full details). The wrath of God would be poured out in full upon those who have rejected the final offer of mercy in the cross of Christ. Christ will reign supreme for eternity irrespective of the opinions or whims of those who reject Him, as it is written,

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, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:10–11)

In conclusion, there is no denying that Christians are on enemy territory, the territory of Satan, the “god of this world”, hence it is not surprising the inhabitants of this territory are prone to rejecting anything that remotely has the fragrance of Christ on it. We, as Christians, must in spite of this continue to represent the interests of our Master, sometimes at great peril to our reputation, career and our very lives until He returns. We must remember we serve a Master that gave up His own reputation, divinity and His very life to identify with us, it is therefore not a great thing for Him to demand the same in return especially as He offers eternal rewards for our doing so.

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A.B. Melchizedek

Crusader for the truth of the gospel and the logical coherence within the context of the scriptural worldview.