Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Waiting for the King to Return.

11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” (Luke 19:11-27)
Jesus is nearing Jerusalem. Everyone thinks that the kingdom of God will appear. This is what man longs for. I’ve determined that we want this very bad because any crackpot can put up billboards saying it is coming on such and such a date and everyone loses their head and starts waiting with bated breath. The Mayans can run out of space on a calendar stone and people flock to Guatemala to await the end. People want it so bad that they will believe almost anyone who tells them it is coming.
That was Jesus problem, the people weren’t really willing to listen to him in this. In a way, the kingdom was already with them, Jesus tells them often that it is at hand, that it is among them and so on. But they miss that, because it isn’t what they expect, which is nothing more than an utopia type reign of a king who punishes all the evildoers and vindicates the oppressed. This is what the people expect to see accompanying the end of the world. But it isn’t what Jesus is about.
So Jesus tells them a parable to try help them understand. He draws on things the people will understand. A noble man is going off to receive a kingdom. Herod had to receive his kingdom from Caesar. He had to go and meet with Caesar to get it. He could not reign in Israel without Caesar’s blessing. And the people sent a delegation after him saying they did not want this man to rule over them. That was a very bad move politically speaking. Of course, it just sours Herod towards those factions that don’t want him.
So Jesus is telling his disciples that he is going to go receive the kingdom. He goes to the Father to receive it. This is done, but the people will not want him to be their king. They will spurn him. I matters little, Jesus is their king. The Father has given him all power and authority on heaven and on earth. Your neighbors are his subjects whether they choose to recognize it or not. They belong to Jesus Christ. There are no ifs ands or buts about this.
So while we wait for his return, we can be about his business or we can cower in fear. He gives his servants his coin. I suppose some would say this is an analogy of faith, but I’m going to say it is more than that, it is that which causes faith in us, the gospel. This is what Jesus has given us, and if we use it, invest in it and with it, it multiplies. It is with the word of God that we win converts for the kingdom. We engage in business with it, it does its thing. I don’t know why, but I keep thinking about that dude a couple years ago who started with a paperclip and kept trading until he traded for a house. Things like that happen in the business world. Some are better than others, obviously. I have had friends, whom it seems could talk to a guy for five minutes and they would be wanting to be baptized the next week. Others don’t have that gift. Perhaps it is all we can do to raise our children in the faith, maybe convert our spouse. But I would not worry about all that, when we use what we have in support of the church, we are engaging in the business that Jesus has given us. In the church we are all one, unified in Christ working together, being strengthened in our work with the forgiveness of sins, and the sacraments. Seriously, when you see a child being baptized, a new family coming into membership, new souls communing with you in a congregation, these are your accomplishments. The pastor does not do this on his own. Pastors do not build churches, congregations filled with faithful sheep helping to support a pastor, they build congregations. Some encourage him, and really, nothing is more encouraging to a pastor to continue in his work than faithful attendance to the divine service and the reception of the forgiveness of sins. Really, nothing encourages him more. Nothing discourages him more than faithless attendance. All pastors are the same in that regard. Prayer is likewise indispensable. Financial support is necessary. Then there are the people who help with office work, or building maintenance, who donate time to teach Sunday School. We all work together as one in the church, the fact that it is standing at all to receive new members, that is you.
What we don’t want to do, is hide God’s word, and be afraid to engage in business with it. This is imprudent. The servant would have been better off saying I put it all on red and it stopped on black. No, there will be plenty who will not want to do business with us, we cannot let them brow beat us into hiding the word. We know what their fate will be.
Yeah, you send a delegation trying to undermine your king’s appointment, and it will go exceedingly bad for you on his return. There is only one way that your desire for him not to rule over you will be accomplished, it will be at his bidding, it will be with your execution, but finally it will be what you asked for. With Christ there is life, and abundant life. Without him there is only death.

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