Lessons From the Parables
Why Are You Called Now, Not Later?
Login or Create an Account
With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!
Lessons From the Parables: Why Are You Called Now, Not Later?
A little-understood parable Jesus gave in the final days before His death was intended to speak to God’s Church—the people He’s called—through the ages. It tells why God calls some to understand and respond to His truth today, in advance of the coming reign of Jesus Christ on the earth, while the majority of humankind will not hear or learn that until after Christ’s return.
Are you living your life with that knowledge? How does it affect the way you live?
We should desperately want God’s Kingdom to come to earth and for Jesus to begin His righteous reign. We look at today’s world and see the suffering and evil that rob humanity of peace, safety and fulfilled lives. It’s easy for us all to cry out to God, “Will You at this time restore Your Kingdom to the earth?”
Why does God wait through the generations to bring His Kingdom to the earth and fulfill the many Bible prophecies of that wonderful age to come?
But God has not done this. Another year passes and still we earnestly pray, as God’s people have done in every age, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). Why does God wait through the generations to bring His Kingdom to the earth and fulfill the many Bible prophecies of that wonderful age to come?
It’s a question we see asked of Jesus Christ by His disciples. Before He ascended to heaven the disciples asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:6-7).
So it would not happen then. Nor did it happen in their lifetime—a fact it apparently took some time for the early Church members to grasp. While it’s understandable that they would have expected Christ to restore the glory of Israel at that time, the fact is they should have realized it was not going to happen then. In one of His most powerful parables Jesus had plainly said the Kingdom would not come at that time.
A parable for those who expected the Messiah soon
A few weeks earlier, as Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time before His death, He took time to counter the rising expectation among His followers that the many prophecies of a restored Israel would be fulfilled at that moment. Christ spoke a parable to show His disciples that there was yet much to be prepared for that age-changing event. It's called the parable of the minas, or pounds, found in Luke 19.
Christ traveled to Jerusalem from the east, having ascended from Jericho in the Jordan Valley. His teaching had aroused deep interest and expectation that the time of restoration of the glory of the kingdom of Israel had arrived. Many looked to Jesus as the prophesied Messiah spoken of by the prophets. With this was the fervent expectation for the appearance at that moment of the Kingdom of God.
But it was not going to happen then. Christ sensed their mood. He heard their talk. It was “because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately” that He gave the parable (Luke 19:11).
“A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return,” He began (Luke 19:12, New Living Translation, 2015). Looking at His words now, we understand that He is the nobleman of the parable, and the faraway place to which He traveled is heaven, where He sits today at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the moment when He will return in glory as the King of Kings.
This fact was embedded in Christ’s teaching, but His disciples were slow to pick it up. They didn’t understand that a lengthy lapse of time would pass before the Kingdom of God would come.
What does Jesus expect His followers to do?
Christ wanted His followers to understand what they were to do—the job He was giving them to carry out in His absence. But His lesson wasn’t just for His followers at that time. He likewise wants His disciples today to understand what we are to do with our lives once we have committed to following Him.
Do you ever wonder why you were born and your purpose in life? That understanding is here in this parable! Your calling is to a life of preparation for the coming Kingdom. It is why you are called today rather than later when God will set His hand to draw the whole world to Christ and the opportunity for salvation.
Continuing with Jesus’ parable, the nobleman before departing called 10 servants and gave to each a mina, an amount of money equal to about three months’ wages. They were told to generate a profit from what their master entrusted to them while he was away (Luke 19:13).
They were to use the money, symbolic of the various gifts, means and abilities God has given His people, and invest it to increase its value. It would involve initiative and effort. There would be some risk, but the nobleman wanted his servants to put themselves to work in confident faith of reward.
Luke 19:14 is an interjection demonstrating again that Jesus Himself is the nobleman of the parable: “But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king’” (NLT). Christ’s own people rejected Him, and He was put to death.
Jesus Christ is Lord. His disciples will understand that the essence of a relationship with Christ is that of a servant with a master. He is our Lord and Master; we are His servants. Anything less puts us in jeopardy of becoming like one of these citizens who say they will not abide His reign.
A time of accounting to the master
The parable spans the length of history from the time of Christ’s physical ministry on earth to His triumphal return. His return will be a time of judgment on the nations. It will also include an accounting for those called in this age, those relatively few composing His Church now who are called to prepare to reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).
Continuing His parable illustration, Jesus then describes the accounting that will take place at His return: “After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were” (Luke 19:15, NLT).
This parable is aimed directly at those whom God calls to salvation in this age. In previous parables we have examined, such as the parable of the sower and the seed, we’ve seen that those who heed the words of the gospel and hear the word of truth and understand it must incorporate it into their everyday life. Indeed it must become their lives!
These individuals begin to taste the good word of the age to come and bear spiritual fruit (Hebrews 6:5; John 15:8)—fully transformed lives, now in this present life. It is about receiving God’s Holy Spirit and growing in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).
The purpose of the Christian calling and life now, in this age, is to prepare to rule with Jesus Christ in His coming Kingdom.
Through a life of overcoming personal sin and the pulls and pressures of this present world, and humbly serving and obeying God, we take on the mind of Christ and develop spiritual character. This parable teaches us why some are called now while the greater majority of human beings will receive a calling to salvation only after Christ returns and begins to educate the world in Gods’ way of life.
This is a little-understood fact of Scripture, yet it explains how God is working within our world—and how He is working with you. Once you grasp this reality, your life takes on incredible meaning and purpose!
Notice how the parable shows the accounting taking place: “The first servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’”
“‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward’” (Luke 19:15-17, NLT).
The example of this diligent servant shows that the gift of the Holy Spirit joined with our innate talents and gifts can greatly enhance our lives, leading to us becoming profitable and eager servants of God.
The key to living a truly transformed life is yielding to God, confessing our need for His help, and then setting our mind and heart to live by the teachings of the Bible—all of them (Matthew 4:4). The apostle Paul called this “put[ting] off the old man” and “put[ting] on the new man . . . according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:9-10).
The parable is describing how we make lasting changes that result in spiritual growth. This kind of spiritual transformation isn’t just a once-a-week hour or two at church. It is a total surrender of our lives to a new Master, Jesus Christ, who bought and paid for us!
Rewards proportional to effort and productivity
Going on in the parable, the second servant came and showed what he had done, reporting, “Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.”
“‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities’” (Luke 19:18-19, NLT).
Christ was also showing here that He offers a reward for those who take this path. Interestingly enough, it is not an eternity of idleness in heaven, as so many assume (download or request our free study guide Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? to learn more). Rather, it is rulership over cities. It is, as we read earlier, ruling with Jesus Christ in the literal Kingdom He will establish on earth when He returns (Revelation 20:6).
Notice also that the reward He gives is proportional to what we as His followers accomplish in this life. In this illustration He gave, the one who increases his master’s investment tenfold receives more than one who increased in fivefold. As in all things, God is fair and just in His judgment.
Few understand the real meaning and depth of this teaching. Salvation is a free gift from God, which none of us can ever deserve or earn. But the reward for the work and effort we put forth can vary. God in His infinite wisdom and just purpose knows how He will put in place the individual pieces of His spiritual family.
Your calling to walk faithfully with God daily is an aspect of the greater spiritual work God is accomplishing.
What we do now with our talent and calling will be used by God in the edifice He is building. This is the Church, the spiritual temple of God and the Bride of Christ adorned by God and being prepared by heaven’s command. Few of us stop to really think through this Christian calling and life. It is a very real preparation for the Kingdom of God. It is notsimply accepting Christ and assuming that’s all there is to it.
Jesus’ parable includes a stark note of judgment. One servant did not utilize his master’s investment at all. Notice: “But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’”
“‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it’” (Luke 19:20-23, NLT).
Ask yourself whether you might be like this third servant. Fearful. Lacking vision. Not fully committed to God. Not putting the seeking of God’s Kingdom above every other priority in your life (see Matthew 6:33). This servant adopted a narrow view of God and what He is doing in this world. He neglected his master’s instruction, ignored his master’s purpose for him, and waited for the return of his master thinking, in his own self-righteous and self-justified view, that continuing as is was fine. But it wasn’t.
A time of judgment
The parable concludes by showing our God to be a God of exacting and final judgment. “Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’
“‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!’”
“‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me’” (Luke 19:24-27).
This parable is incredibly sobering and ends with a warning. Have you placed your life completely in God’s hands, looking at Him as Lord and Master? God expects a return on all He’s given you. The rewards of His Kingdom will be fairly and completely apportioned based on what we have done with what He has given.
God has a bigger plan than we can ever imagine. He is bringing many children to glory in anticipation of not just restoring His Kingdom to the earth but to producing unending increase from His government and righteous rule throughout the universe forever (Isaiah 9:7).
Knowing the greater plan the Father was working out, Jesus Christ gave this parable to encourage His true followers through the ages that He, like the nobleman gone into a far country, would return and bring with Him a reward to the faithful servants who used their calling to prepare for the wonderful age to come.
Act now on this calling. Grasp the vision of why God has called you to understand the mystery of His plan today!