He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.…
Jesus Christ here invites us to do two things.
I. TO TREAT THIS LIFE AS A TIME OF SACRED OPPORTUNITY. The "nobleman" of the parable gave to his servants a certain sum, of which they were to make good use during his absence. His charge was this: "Occupy till I come."
1. The time of the nobleman's absence stands for our mortal life. Whether it be long or short, our present life is a period during which we have to be preparing for another of far greater consequence. It is a probationary period, that on which the larger and more serious future depends. This is in harmony with our experience; for one part of our life is a preparation for another, and the nature of the succeeding period depends upon the character of that which precedes it - childhood for youth, youth for young manhood, etc.
2. The "pound" of the parable stands for God-given opportunity - for the constitutional capacity with which we are endowed; for the favouring circumstances and facilities by which we are surrounded; for the Christian privileges with which we are blessed.
3. The smallness of our endowment affords no escape from responsibility. Only "one pound." It seems a very small sum for a nobleman to give in charge; but clearly it was large enough for a righteous requirement. No plea could be found in the littleness of the sum; it is not even urged. No man is entitled to say that his human spirit is worth nothing to God, his life worth nothing to the cause of righteousness; only God knows how valuable one human spirit, one earthly life, is.
4. No slavish timidity will excuse the most faint-hearted (vers. 21, 22). Our God is not a Being from whose service we have to turn because we shrink from his severity (Psalm 103:8-14; Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 57:16; 2 Corinthians 8:12).
II. TO LOOK FORWARD TO A DAY OF ACCOUNT AND OF AWARD.
1. There will be a day of judgment. The nobleman will return and call his servants before him (ver. 15). This may stand for some one great day, or we may still better look upon it as the day, when our earthly life terminates, and when we shall, as individual souls, stand before the Judge.
2. God will require of us the use we have made of our opportunity; what we have gained; what we have done in the direction
(1) of self-culture, ministering to the growth of our spiritual faculties;
(2) of the service of our kind, enlightening and aiding and blessing them;
(3) of magnifying the Name of our Divine Lord.
3. He will express his Divine judgment concerning us - his warm approval of those who have been most faithful (ver. 17); his acceptance of those who have not been unfaithful (ver. 19); his displeasure with the unworthy (ver. 22). We are to look for the clearly and fully expressed decision of Jesus Christ upon the character of our life-work, upon the comparative excellency or faultiness of our Christian life.
4. He will determine the measure of our award by the degree of our fidelity (see vers. 17, 19). The more faithful and devoted the life on earth, the larger the recompense, the brighter the crown, the broader the sphere, in the heavenly kingdom. The doctrine of Matthew 20:14, 15 does not contradict this; it simply teaches that those to whom God gives a smaller share of bounty and of grace are not to complain because there are those to whom he grants a larger one. God is righteous, and he not only will not forget our work and labour of love (Hebrews 6:10), but he will not allow those of his servants who have devoted their powers to his cause with the greatest energy, constancy, and self-sacrifice to miss the most generous and gracious recognition at his loving hand. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.