Lesson 90: Parable of the Pounds / Jesus Arrived at Bethany
Luke 19:11-28, John 11:55-12:11
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. This is lesson # 90. Welcome! In our last lesson we said that the parable in Luke 19:11-27 should have been covered there. It was given in the household of Zaccheus or thereabouts. In Matt. 25:14-30 Jesus gave a parable, referred to as the parable of the talents, that is very closely related to this parable in thought. But, timing of these two parables are obviously two different occasions. Thus, we conclude that Jesus gave the same thought twice. Which is very reasonable under the circumstance. O.K., one more time, try to get a clear picture of the occasion. Jesus and his disciples and a multitude of people were at Jericho getting ready to ascend that mountain of nearly 20 miles up hill to Jerusalem. The disciples had fears of what was going to happen in Jerusalem. They sensed that a big showdown was coming up. Many in that crowd undoubtedly thought that Jesus was going to go up to Jerusalem and declare himself as king. They expected a crises! But, no one seemed to know when, where or how that crises would come. That kind of condition sometimes spawns the worst of fears. Everyone had probably heard that the Sanhedrin was going to arrest Jesus. Rumors were rampant. Yet, they had seen great miraculous things from Jesus, feeding five thousand, calming a storm on the sea of Galilee and walking on the water. They had confidence Jesus would triumph over the occasion; but they didn't know how. Luke explains here in Luke 18:11 that the reason Jesus spoke the parable here was "because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear." Now, exactly what that came down to in the mind of that crowd was probably as diverse as the crowd itself. Even among the apostles there was competition; James and John had wanted to be the chief deputies of the kingdom. That brought scorn from other ten. Jesus could see these forces brewing and churning and chewing at the crowd. Nobody was clear; but, everyone had great expectations. It was because of all these diverse expectations; that Jesus gave this parable as they were preparing to depart from Jericho and head for Jerusalem. Let's read! Luke 19:11-27. Sometimes called the parable of the pounds. Beginning in Luke 19:11. "And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till Icome. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had grained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: and thou takest up that thou layest not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping-that I did not sow: wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."
Alright, Luke was the only writer that recorded this parable. The great caravan of travelers that had collected around Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem different than at any other times recorded in the four gospels. Jesus in this parable was correcting their false expectations. There was going to be a long season before there was going to be any reward. In the mean time; long waiting and patience and faithfulness was going to be required. The nature of the kingdom WAS NOT what they were entertaining mentally. Notice how Jesus started this parable in v.12, "A certain nobleman went into a far country..." A "nobleman" was literally one of the kings men. This term is applied to Jesus, I trust you understand. He was going into a far country, i.e. heaven, a place where the disciples could not go. There he would receive for himself a kingdom, i.e. authority, and return. This, of course, refers to the heavenly phase of Christ's kingdom; when he will return with angels to separated the wheat from the tares and the wheat from the chaff. When Jesus shall come, "as lightening, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day." (Luke 17:24). Now, don't try to read a lot of minor details into that statement. It's simply another parabolic statement describing the same thing this parable is teaching. But, obviously in the next verses here, Jesus described PART of his kingdom, i.e. THAT-PART that would be left behind for a mission here. That portion of his kingdom left behind was part of the kingdom, the earthly phase, referred to simply as the kingdom or church, other places. But, Christ's kingdom extends beyond the grave, you see; we learned in Matt. 16:18. The gates of hell or hades, that unseen place, will not PREVAIL AGAINST IT, i.e. shall not prevent an entrance. Gates are symbolic of an entrance. That gate that we call "the grave" will not prevent an entrance into that unseen place beyond the grave, you see. Christ's kingdom extends INTO that realm, also. But, before the Lord took his trip into the that far country; he called his servants together (v.13). The number of his "ten servants" has nothing to do with the number of apostles or citizens in the kingdom, etc. It is simply the drapery of the parable that corresponds with the work left to be done,, i.e. ten pounds. The ten pounds were distributed equally among the servants. Ten pounds, in terms of money, and that's what is represented, the word "money" is used down in v.23; that was a very meager or small amount in terms of investment capital. Thus, the servants that were left, i.e. the disciples, called citizens in v.14, would be left in poverty in effect. But, they were expected to be faithful, labor, use good judgment and accomplish for the Lord what they were assigned to do. Some would do more than others; simply because, some would have greater opportunity than others. But, all the Lord's servants were to work and apply themselves. When the Lord returned from his long journey into the far country; He congratulated and rewarded those servants that were faithful and applied themselves. The Lord did not fault the servant that hid his money; because, he did not accomplish great things. The Lord faulted that servant because he DID NOT USE his resources and did not try. The servant said in v.21, "I feared thee", i.e. that servant did not steal the money. That servant did not waste the money. That servant was careful to protect his Lord's money, he kept it safe, laid up in a napkin (v.20). But, he concluded that the Lord was asking too much and not entitled to receive any more than the Lord gave. But, notice the Lord's instructions in v.13, "Occupy till I come." There's another good sermon title. The servants were to be in charge of investment and management until the Lord returned; subject to the Lord's rules, of course. There's NO organizational pyramid in this parable. Remember, Jesus said, "the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall NOT be so among you..." But, the fearful servant made his own rules. He didn't like the Lord's rules. Thus, that servant did not obey his Lord. The word "a-u-s-t-e-r-e" in v.21 [pronounced OS-TIR'], means strict on self discipline. There's a great lesson in that word for us. The man knew the Lord vas strict; but, did not subject himself to the Lord's rules. Now, notice once again; the man was not a crook! The man did not try to defraud! The man didn't lie about what he did! He was a pretty Good "JOE", according to the world's standards. He is not depicted as immoral or unfair. He simply did not obey his Lord, according to the Lord's rules. There's a great lesson here for us. The ten pounds gained and the ten cities and the five pounds gained and the five cities (in v. 17-18) should not be construed to mean rewards will be proportional to that which is accomplished. The parable of the vineyard made THAT POINT very clear. So, keep it ALL in context. Don't try to make any parable teach more than it teaches. Notice in v. 22, Jesus said "out of thine own mouth will I judge thee..." Do you remember that principle in the sermon on the mount? "With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged..." (Matt. 7:2). The commentators differ on v.25. Some think that statement came from the crowd; some think it is part of Jesus' parable. It really makes no difference which way you take it; the message is the same. Some see in the whole parable as a reference to Archelaus Herod. When Herod-the-great died; it is said that Archelaus took a delegation and went to Rome and received authority to rule the kingdom instead of his father, i.e. a portion of it. But, some of the citizens of Palestine sent a delegation to the emperor objecting to Archelaus as king. Thus, some think that Jesus was playing upon contemporary history in the parable. And again, it really makes no difference whether this was true or not. The message to us is the same.
Now, let's read one more verse, Luke 19:28. "And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem." Thus, when Jesus had spoken this parable for the disciples and the multitude to chew on; he headed up the mountain.
Alright, while that multitude is climbing the mountain; let's go to John ch. 11 and finish up that chapter. We'll start reading in John 11:55 and read down thru John 12:11. Have you got it? Let's read, beginning in John 11:55. "And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should show it, that they might take him. Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and give to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always he have with you; but me ye have not always. Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, who he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus."
O.K. some of the Jews came to the passover looking for Jesus. Possibly some were from Galilee. Others doubted that Jesus would show up. The council expected Jesus to come to the passover, so they issued orders concerning Jesus' arrest. This shows that the Jews generally knew of the council's plot; a terrible thought. Jesus arrived at Bethany, the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha six days before the passover (v.l). That was the same day Jesus left Jericho, of course. That was probably Friday, March 31st. If we count from Jesus' birth the year was AD 33. The caravan of travelers with Jesus must have arrived late in the afternoon, tired and hungry. Jesus went to the home of his friend, Lazarus. He undoubtedly stayed there over Saturday or the sabbath day. V.9 said that "much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there." In other words the word traveled fast around Jerusalem that Jesus had arrived. Some Jews came to Bethany for a quick visit, "they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead." There was so much interest that the council considered killing Lazarus also because so many were being influenced to believe on Jesus through Lazarus and the miracle that Jesus had done by raising Lazarus from the dead. That was about the situation over the sabbath. It was most likely Saturday night, i.e. the sabbath day after the day changed to Sunday that Martha and others made a supper to honor Jesus. Matthew and Mark say that the supper was in the house of Simon the leper, of whom we have no other information. He probably had once been a leper that Jesus had healed and probably was a close neighbor or relative of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Mary did something special for Jesus by anointing him with the spikenard, a very costly ointment (v.3). I don't understand all the significance of that custom, wiping the feet with her hair and all that; but, obviously it was a custom that showed great esteem and regard for a person so treated. We learn here that Judas Iscariot, one of the apostles was treasurer for that group. He expressed outrage at the event; but, John, another one of the disciples, tells us it was not because he really cared for the poor. And John here reveals the true colors of Judas. John tells us that Judas was a thief, i.e. he had apparently been stealing from the treasury for which he had been made responsible. But, notice what Jesus told Judas, "Let her alone." (v.7). Matthew' account of this is in Matt. 26:6-13. Mark's account is Mark 14:3-9. The account seems to be out of sequence in Matthew and Mark when we first read it there. However, the writers didn't put it there to be chronological; they put it there to help explain Judas' actions at a later time. So, since it fits here; we would consider it here; but, since our time is about out, let's leave it until we cover Matt. 26 and Mark 14. We'll read it there and try to relate it to the thought there; although, it is a sequel to the account we just read. So, store it away temporarily in a handy brain cell or two and we'll try to remember to relate it back here when we cover Matt. ch. 26. Until our next lesson, have a good day.