And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem…
Zacchaeus's conversion and all the stir on leaving Jericho led many in the crowd to imagine that Christ was immediately to assume a visible kingdom. To remove misapprehension, therefore, he proceeds to tell them a parable which would at once rouse them to the necessity of working instead of indulging in lackadaisical waiting. Comparing himself to a nobleman who is going into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return, he compares his disciples to servants left to make the best of what is entrusted to them. The worldly minded as distinct from the servants are called his citizens, whose spirit is manifested in the message transmitted to him, "We will not have this man to reign over us." Then the return of the crowned king is to be celebrated by the distribution of rewards and punishments as the case may be. Out of this significant parable we may learn the following lessons.
I. IT IS IN HEAVEN, AND NOT ON EARTH, OUR LORD IS TO RECEIVE HIS KINGDOM. This is the great mistake many have made about Christ's kingdom and reign. They localize head-quarters on earth instead of in heaven. It is not by a democratic vote, by a plebiscite, our Lord is to receive his kingdom, but by donation from the Father. When he went away by death, resurrection, and ascension, therefore, it was to receive a kingdom that he might return crowned. Hence we are to regard him as now reigning over his mediatorial kingdom. He is on the throne. His government is administered from the heavenly places.
II. IT IS PERILOUS TO REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE HIS PRESENT REIGN. The citizens that hate the absent King will be slain before him when he returns for judgment. Hostility, enmity, to Christ, if continued, must lead to utter discomfiture at last. Rebellion of spirit is, therefore, to be diligently uprooted if we would have any share in Christ's kingdom. It is at our peril if we refuse his loving and righteous reign.
III. CHRIST'S SERVANTS LIVE UNDER A LAW OF CAPITAL IN HIS KINGDOM. In this parable we have "pounds," and not "talents," referred to. The question is, therefore, of some equal endowment which all receive in common, not of unequal endowment distributed in sovereign wisdom. In the parable of the talents, given in another Gospel, we have equal diligence exhibited in the use of unequal endowments; and the reward is righteously equalized in the completed kingdom. Here, on the other hand, we have an unequal use of equal endowments, with the unequal reward attached in proportion to the diligence. We discern in the arrangement, therefore, that law of increase which has been denominated the law of capital. But first we have to settle the signification of the pounds. We shall not be far astray if, with Godet, we regard them as indicating those donations of Divine grace which are offered to the Lord's servants, we may suppose, in equal measure. These endowments are put to use in some cases, utterly neglected in others. It will be found at last that the law of capital has obtained in the Lord's arrangements. One man, by judicious use of what the Lord has given, finds his grace growing tenfold, so that by the time the Lord returns he is ready to undertake the government of ten cities. Another man, by diligence, but not so persevering as the former, finds his graces growing fivefold, so that in the final arrangement he is equal to the oversight of five cities. A third is represented as making no use whatever of his endowment, under the impression that the Lord is a grasping speculator, who wants to make the most he can out of men. He ventures to return his trust just as it was. He finds, however, that his selfish idleness is visited with utter ruin. He has the misused endowment recalled and made over to the better trader. "To him that hath shall be given." Accumulated capital tends to increase in proper hands, and it is right it should do so. It follows, then, from this law of capital as thus applied:
1. That we should use diligently every means to increase our Christian graces. Sanctification should be our life-work, and all action, meditation, prayer, should be utilized for the one great object of becoming the best servants of our Master our circumstances admit of.
2. We shall find ourselves thereby becoming rulers of men. It is wonderful the influence exercised by consecrated lives. It is easy understanding how we may become kings and priests unto God the Father. As consecrated by his grace, we begin immediately to influence others for good and to reign.
3. The influence on earth will have its counterpart in the reign enjoyed by us in heaven. For heaven will be the home of order. It will be no happy, musical mob. It will be a great society, with recognized kings of men, under the gracious authority, of course, of him who is "King of kings, and Lord of lords," Influence, character, all that is gracious, is destined to be continued and to abide. Those who have done men most good, and made the most of their opportunities here, shall be rewarded with corresponding influence in the well-ordered commonwealth above.
4. Wrong views of Christ's character may also be perpetuated, with their corresponding judgments. The pitiful servant who thought his Master austere, hard, grasping, was only attributing his own hard character to his superior. He failed to understand him. So is it with some souls. They insist on misunderstanding God, and the result is that their misunderstanding continues and is its own punishment. How important, therefore, that we should have correct views of God our Saviour! It will save us from misuse of his gifts and graces, and from the doom awaiting all faithless souls. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.