2nd Sunday of End Time – Last Judgment
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Friends in Christ, your boss has them, your parents certainly have them, your spouse has them, your friends have them, your family has them, etc. What are they? Expectations. Expectations of you. Whether or not we agree with them or meet them or want them, each one of us is expected to do or to be something by someone else. Yet, what about God? Does He have expectations of us?
This question becomes even more important as we consider in what time we are living. We’re living in the end times aren’t we? No one can deny it, the signs that we are living in the end times are all around us. Jesus has given us some indicators of when He will return and what we can expect: wars… check… rumors of wars…check… famine… check… earthquakes… check…. false prophets… check… persecutions… check. The King, Jesus, could return at any moment and usher us and all believers into His eternal kingdom. But He hasn’t returned yet. Yes, one day He will return, He’s told us that He’ll return, His return is inevitable, but when He’ll return, that we’re not sure about, because He hasn’t told us. So, between now and that future time… what does God expect us to be doing? How much does He expect from us?
Jesus’ parable answers this question for us. Jesus spoke this parable likely about a week before His crucifixion on Good Friday. He was in Jericho, a city not that far from Jerusalem- the capital and religious center of Israel. The people had just witnessed Zacchaeus a well-known and disliked tax-collector, offer to give half his possessions to the poor and repay anyone he cheated 4 times the amount! All of this… because of Jesus! Then Jesus made the remarkable statement, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Something was about to happen, something was in the air. Perhaps many were thinking, “Could this be the Messiah who will set up a great earthly kingdom for us?” To this end Jesus told them a parable:
There was a nobleman, a man of means, wealthy, who had servants. He was given a kingdom in a far distant land. This was fairly typical of the time. Kingdoms could be given to people of worth as a favor. During his absence the king did not want his wealth to go to waste. So he called in ten servants and gave to each of them a mina. A mina was about three months wages, so think of in our day, about $10,000 to $15,000. He told them to use the money, put it to work with the expectation that they would earn something with the money. So off the nobleman went, but the people of his new kingdom hated him without any given reason and didn’t want him to be their king so they sent a delegation to their king, saying, “We don’t want this guy to be our king.” Yet, he had every right to be king and he was made king-and he had every right to expect his subjects’ honor and respect.
Later the king returned to his home. He sent for his servants and expected to hear what gains they had made with his money. The first servant met his expectations, he said, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more” and reported a 1,000 % return. The second servant as well met the king’s expectations with a 500 % return. Both were commended and graciously given rule over cities.
Then a different servant came in, “Sir, here is your mina; I kept it hidden away in a cloth.” Essentially this servant said, “I have no use for this, take it back, I was afraid of you…in fact, YOU are a hard man! YOU are ungenerous and harsh in your dealings with others, taking what you haven’t worked for!” His master replied to him, “I’ll judge you by what you say…you knew that I was a hard man, if you knew that I was a hard man, why didn’t you act accordingly? Why didn’t you use this very easy means of putting my money in the bank and letting others do the work, so I’d have at least some interest when I returned? Take this servant’s mina away and give it to someone else!” He continued, “Everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.” Then the king ordered those subjects who hated him killed for rejecting him as king.
So what was Jesus’ point in telling this parable? Remember that a parable is an earthly story that has a spiritual meaning. So what’s the point? Who’s the nobleman? Well, it’s Jesus. He has a kingdom of which He is the King. And since He is the King He has every right to expect His subjects to obey Him. Who are His servants? You and I. Our King hasn’t returned yet, but he’s given us something to do in the meantime. He’s given us gifts to “make spiritual gains” for His kingdom. But what’s the problem? Some reject Him as King and some reject His gifts.
What does God expect from us? One thing God expects of us is to honor Him in our lives for who He is, our King! And that’s great isn’t it? Don’t we do that already? Surely we’re not rejecting him as king! We’re certainly not like those foolish subjects who sent a delegation saying, “We don’t want this guy to be our king,” right? Certainly not to the fullest extent, but are we satisfied in giving our King less than our best? Do we make it clear that He is our King when we’re at work, or at school, or at home, or when no one else is around? Are we really honoring Him as King when we are more concerned with building our own earthly kingdom to the neglect of the far more important spiritual kingdom? God expects our 100 % devotion to Him as our King. And that’s not all, what else does God expect of us?
He expects faithfulness from His servants. Which servant do we look more like? Our King will return one day and will ask for an accounting of how we used His gifts in this life. When you think of your life here on this earth how big is it in the grand scheme of things? Our life is a mere inch compared with the next life which will last for eternity. Considering the fact that what happens here in this little life impacts where we will be for eternity puts a proper perspective on things, doesn’t it? God’s given us lots of “minas” or gifts in this life in order to make spiritual gains for Him for the next life. That means how I use my time, my abilities, my money, my friendships, my mind, my mouth, my hands, has an eternal impact. And God is expecting me to use those for the benefit of His kingdom.
Finally, isn’t the most important “mina,” the most important gift that God has given us, His Word? God expects us not to hide it away “under a cloth.” God expects me to use His Word and use it for profit in His kingdom. But can I honestly say I’ve been making gains with God’s Word if I’m satisfied with a half-hearted regard for His Word in my life? Can I make gains with His Word if I do not have family or personal devotions? Or share it with my friends and family? What does God expect from us? God has every right to expect absolute perfection from us, absolute perfection in how we use His Word. But, “That’s impossible! If that’s true then God is unfair, He’s harsh, He’s ungenerous!” Really?
So, what does God expect from us? When our King returns how much does He expect from you? From me? So, perhaps the better question for us to ask is not “What does God expect from us” but “What can WE expect from GOD?” A frightening verdict? A harsh judgment? A sentence of death? A grandfatherly, “Oh, it’s ok”? What can we expect from God? There was a Servant, a faithful Servant, who gave perfect honor in everything to God His King. A Servant who perfectly used the “mina” of God’s Word faithfully in His life. A Servant who soon after He spoke the Words of our parable would be the Suffering Servant rejected by His people and put to death on a cross. In the perfect Servant Jesus all of God’s expectations of us were met. Jesus paid the price that was expected of you! And so, since you know and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, you can be absolutely sure you have life in His name!
It is because of Jesus and Him alone that the Last Day, the Last Judgment, when Jesus returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords for everyone to see, that then in full confidence, in full certainty, you can know for absolute sure, that because of Jesus and what He has done for you, you will hear these words from your Master and King, these words that make all service to God here on earth worth it, these words that change our whole perspective on this life, these words from your King Jesus, “Well done, my good and faithful servant! Come to the eternal paradise prepared for you!” On the Last Judgment that is what you can expect from your God!