THE ANSWER TO THE LORD’S PRAYER
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
January 27, 2019
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, ESV
We pray The Lord’s Prayer often in our personal lives, weekly in our corporate worship, and sincerely, I hope. After honoring the Lord with the opening words “Hallowed be Your name” and just before pledging allegiance to His sovereign will, “Your will be done,” we make this humble request: “Your kingdom come.”
In answer to this prayer, on a day fixed by the Father, the Son of God is going to say, “Okay.” Every creature, “On earth as it is in Heaven,” will watch what unfolds. What is going to happen when the Lord answers the prayer He taught us to pray? What is going to happen when Jesus Christ returns to earth?
Jesus, just before arriving in Jerusalem to complete the first advent, tells this parable to preview His second. It is a parable with a lot of moving parts, so I have selected ten of them to interpret. They flow into a fairly linear storyline that is easy to follow and filled with fantastic information concerning the closing of planet earth as we know it, the second coming of the Messiah, and the full and visible manifestation of the kingdom of God.
“The Kingdom of God”
Jesus preached many different parables, stories of symbolism with stark, spiritual meanings. They almost always have the same subject: the kingdom of God. Some would argue that this is the main point not only of the parables, but of the Gospels, the rest of the New Testament, and the whole Bible.
All of Scripture indeed reveals God is the King, the King has ordained a kingdom, He has chosen His subjects, He has paid the price for their citizenship, He watches over them on earth, He brings them to His side upon death, and He has prepared a place for them for all of eternity in Heaven.
The kingdom of God is visible and invisible, now but not yet, past and present and future. The kingdom of God exists wherever and in whomever Christ is King.
In the context that couches this parable, Jesus was somewhere between Jericho and Jerusalem enroute to the celebration of Passover. These were the last days of His first coming. Many Jews were expecting the Messiah to do at His first coming what the prophets predict He will do at His second coming, so “they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately,” complete with loud trumpets, white horses, and a militaristic takeover of all the world led by the Christ.
So, Jesus offers this parable to explain the “now but not yet” concept of the kingdom of God, complete with colorful characters and captivating details.
The nobleman is at the top of his class in society. He has more attributes, more resources, and more power than the common man. Among the nobles a king is crowned, who rules over every part and parcel of the kingdom, a kingdom constantly seeking to expand.
The nobleman in this parable is beyond noble. He is preeminent, perfect, and supremely powerful. He is the best man who ever lived and He is the only God who has ever existed. He is the God-man, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Messiah was in the midst of the people as He preached this parable, but He was about to go away, then return. Where in the world, or beyond, was He going?
Some say the far country is our country, along with the other two hundred or so counties that populate planet earth. Jesus left His home in Heaven to come to our country, Earth, for a season and then return. That’s one interpretation.
But a far country is one that you cannot see with your eyes. You can look towards it, but you cannot see it. You can only imagine what the place and the people there must look like.
Do you ever wonder where Christ went after He died on the cross, came out of the empty tomb, spent a few days with His disciples, then ascended out of their sight? He went to a far country, one you cannot see, but only imagine. It is the place thrice called Paradise in the Scriptures. You can call it Heaven, if you like, or for now, the invisible kingdom of God.
I like this view because it keeps the concept of Christ’s return consistent, as I will try to explain in a moment when talk of His “return” returns. For now, let’s keep it in the moment. Christ our Nobleman is with His disciples on the outskirts of Jerusalem, teaching them about the kingdom of God. He is about to go away from them, after the cross and the empty tomb and the ascension. But He will return.
In the meantime, who and what has the Christ left behind? Servants with minas in their hands and citizens with hatred in their hearts.
I certainly hope you can see yourself in this symbol of the servants. Servants of Christ are believers in Christ, true Christians. If you say you believe, but do not serve, you are fooling yourself.
The word Jesus uses in the parable for “servants” is “doulos,” a Greek word common in the New Testament and a particular favorite of the Apostle Paul. A bondservant is one who freely and willingly serves his master with no thought of ever doing anything else. Their lives are given to the Master, and in the case of Christianity, it is the Master who gave His life for the servants.
You can see the common bond. Servants serve because they have been given something by the Master which enables them to serve, and makes their servanthood fruitful. It is a “mina,” which of course is symbolic for something, or someone else.
In Jesus’ day a “mina” was a coin worth about a hundred days’ wages, which was very valuable. In Jesus’ parable, ten servants received ten minas. In other words, each one received one, the same one, with the same value and spending power.
What is the one thing, the very valuable thing, that God gives to every true born again believer when they come into His kingdom to start serving Him? It is the same thing, in the same quantity, to every one. It is not a thing, really, but a person. He is the Holy Spirit.
Like the Son of God, the Spirit of God was, is, and always will be God. God the Father sends forth God the Spirit to enable people be saved and serve the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Without the Spirit we cannot repent and believe, and without the Spirit we have no power to serve.
So, as Jesus would explain further in the upper room, the Messiah came to earth and returned to Heaven, from which He will return again. In the meantime, He has given us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to indwell us, teach us, guide us, gift us, and enable us to serve the Lord. Our chief service is to reach out to others with the gospel so that they, too, may become Spirit-filled servants of the Son of God.
In the parable, one Christian reached ten other Christians, another five, and so forth and so on. They say it takes money to make money, I guess this is true. But I know it takes Christians to make other Christians, and it happens when we take the gospel and give it away to others in the world.
But what about the people on earth who do not bow the head and bend the knee to the Lordship of Christ? They are distinctive from “his servants” in the parable, and are simply called “his citizens,” because they are much more interested in the rights of citizenship than the rigors of service.
There are people in our country presently who hate our President, just like there were those who hated the previous President. They do not like him, do not want him to be President, and proudly proclaim that they will not follow his plans and policies. But you know what, if they are citizens of the United States, he is still their President.
This is the way it is with lost people, non-Christians, in the world. Many hate Jesus, or at least they are aghast at dogmas of biblical Christianity. Even those who do not hate Him still do not serve Him. Yet whether they acknowledge it or not, they live in the Father’s world. God turns it and controls it will keep it going until He decides to stop it.
Since the beginning of man, citizens of this world who are opposed to the biblical and orthodox concept of God have formed themselves into “delegations,” false religions, no religions, political parties, economic movements, and philosophies that are opposed to God, the gospel, and the Christian world view. For now God loves them, provides for them, turns the other cheek to them, and waits patiently for some of them to turn to Him. One day, however, God’s patience is going to run out.
“When He Returned”
What can this mean, “When He returned,” except for the promised second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? This part of the parable is plain. Christ has come to earth, ascended into Heaven and one day Christ will return.
What was the purpose of Christ’s first coming? Jesus came into the world the first time to bring salvation. He fulfilled the Old Covenant with Israel by ushering in a New Covenant for all the world. He lived, loved, died, and rose again so that every sinner who repents and believes in Him will have everlasting life. The person and work of Jesus Christ covers everyone saved by grace alone through faith alone in God alone before and after His atonement on the cross. But the offer of eternal salvation comes with an expiration date, the day when Christ returns.
What will be the purpose of Christ’s second coming? He came the first time to save sinners. He will come the second time to bring the saved fully into the kingdom of God and judge those who rejected Him or remain indifferent. The judgment will be, in the words of the parable, “severe” and final.
The final judgment at the second coming of Christ will divide the sheep and the goats, the elect and the reprobate, the saved and the lost. The saved will be saved forever and the lost will be lost forever. The saved will be rewarded, the lost will endure wrath. But this two-fold judgement unfolds upon three groups mentioned in the parable: good servants, wicked servants, and enemies.
Remember that every true believer in Jesus Christ is also a servant of the Lord. The same Holy Spirit that regenerates a new Christian indwells, empowers, and compels the Christian to worship and work for God. If there is no service, there has been no salvation.
The faith and service of a Christian will be rewarded. The rewards will come in ways and means too wonderful to describe in human terms, even the divinely inspired words of hand-written Scripture. But I think certain words in this parable will parallel the literal reward each believer will receive. It will be the voice of God saying, “Well done.”
I do not think there will be any condemnation nor even any criticism at the judgment seat of Christ for believers. All sins will have been forgiven, all idleness and things done with false motives will have been forgotten, only good works will remain. Of course, some will have done more good than others, but all will hear God’s voice, all will receive more than we could ever ask or think. Don’t you want hear that number, when the saints go marching in?
But not all servants are good, because not all professing Christians are really Christians. The world has always been filled with nominals and hypocrites. Nominals never talk the talk in public worship, Bible study, and witnessing for the Lord. Hypocrites never walk the walk while talking incessantly about how much they love God. They both claim to believe the good news about Jesus, but when they see Jesus at His second coming, it is bad news they will hear.
Or rather, a bad name, “wicked servant.” A wicked servant is a pretender to the throne. He is someone who had the gospel handed to him, but did not internalize it. It is someone who was approached by the Holy Spirit, but kept him at arm’s length. It is typically someone who rarely if ever darkened the door of the “bank,” perhaps a symbol of the church, so that the word and the Spirit could gain an interest.
What will happen to the wicked servants? The very gospel and Spirit that were so close to them, virtually in the palm of their handkerchief covered hands, will be taken away and poured upon those who already have God in their hearts. And then, when it is revealed that the wicked servants are not servants at all, they will be cast down with the enemies of God.
An enemy is a terrible thing to be, especially if you are an enemy against something or someone holy, just, true, and right. All human beings were at one time enemies of God. That is what sin and depravity has done to the human race. In the great transaction of salvation, enemies of God become friends of God, even children of God, and remain so forever.
Forever has another meaning for those who remain enemies. The “slaughter” referred to in the parable is a symbol to be sure, but a frightening one. It is a symbol of death, but not the nice, neat kind of death you witness at funerals. It is a violent, physical, spiritual, and permanent death by which one is barred from God, banned from Heaven, and banished to Hell forever.
Just as all believers will receive a reward, the good and the better and the best, so all enemies of God, all unbelievers, will receive wrath and eternal death. The hateful murders, rapists, child molesters, and others in whom unbelief ran amok, will be in the boat with thoughtful, intelligent, nice, helpful, beautiful, and religious people who simply ignored the gospel, belittled the church, and disobeyed the Bible. When that ship sinks there will be no lifeboat, no rescue, no resurrection, nothing but deep darkness and death forever.
This is the end, when speculation becomes sight, when the coming kingdom arrives, when Jesus Christ returns to earth. So the next time you pray, “Your kingdom come,” think about what you are saying. Think about how you are living. Think about all the people you know. Are you ready, are they ready, for the answer to The Lord’s Prayer?
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org