How many minas do I have?
Today’s passage on the minas is Jesus’ last parable before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Why did Jesus give this parable? The gospel of Luke explained the people and His disciples supposed that the kingdom of God would appear immediately, that upon Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, He would overthrow the Romans and become king. However, this parable talks about a nobleman going away to a distant country to receive his kingdom. Jesus was already speaking of His 2nd coming, how He is going back to the Father to receive His kingdom and coming back.
The nobleman in today’s parable provides his 10 servants with a mina each and instructs them to do business. In the original language, doing business is to make a profit from that mina (Luke 19:13). And when he returns, they are to give account (Luke 19:15). The slaves or servants here are like stewards and managers over their master’s house, assets and even money. They are not ill-treated or abused. The relationship is one of respect and even love. The master takes care of them and in turn, they have the responsibility to make a profit for the master. Today, we are like the slaves waiting for their master’s return. What is our relationship with our Master? Do we want Jesus to come back? Until He comes back, how much time do we have left? And how much profit have we made so far?
There is a similar parable in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Both parables tell of the master who is going away and coming back. The servants are then judged according to what they have done with what they were given. The differences are the difference in the amounts given & the reward received. In the parable of the talents, 3 slaves were given 5, 2 & 1 talent respectively, while in today’s parable, all 10 slaves were given the same amount of 1 mina. And in the parable of the talents, both slaves who made 5 & 2 extra talents were rewarded equally (Matthew 25:21-23), while in the parable of the minas, the reward is different, the servant who made 10 minas was given rule over 10 cities, and the one who made 5 minas was given rule over 5 cities.
How much is 1 talent & 1 mina?
1 talent = 20 years of labour.
1 talent is multiplying our annual salary or profits by 20 times. The master has given an impossibly huge amount. That is why talents represent the gift of God, His grace which we do not deserve or can ever earn. People are given different talents – such as beautiful voices, good looks, great intelligence with photographic memories, and some are given many more talents than others. However, if we are given 10 talents but only produce 1, we will not receive the reward; we have to make another 10. And if we are given 1 talent, we just need to make 1 more. Therefore, we do not have to be envious or jealous of others. We just need to be responsible for the talents we have been given.
1 mina = 100 denarii; 1 denarius = 1 day’s wage; 1 mina = 100 days’ wages (about 3 months’ work)
If the daily wage is $100, then 1 mina will be $10,000. It is not an impossibly huge amount. And the master says to do business with it and make a profit.
Here, we see the importance of the relationship between the master and his slaves. The slaves who made extra minas had only honour, respect and love for their master, and instead of highlighting their efforts confessed “Your mina has earned.….”. The last slave had a relationship built of fear and forced responsibility. He was disrespectful of the value of the mina he had been given, keeping it hidden in a handkerchief (Luke 19:21-22). If we do not have the right relationship with our master our Lord, it is impossible for us to bear fruit with the talents or minas that God has given us.
So what is this mina that is given equally to each of us? It is the time, 24 hours a day. 7 days in a week. 1 family. 1 chance of life. 52 Lord’s days in a year. You may ask, “What can I do with the 24 hours, which everyone has it?” Can I change it to 28 hours? What kind of fruit can I possibly produce with the mina God has given me? But being here worshipping this 1 hour is investing your mina. Serving in your department, in worship or praise, teaching Sunday school, that is utilizing your mina & is the faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Using our time wisely and being faithful. Not being late for worship services, taking the effort to keep up with the Word proclaimed, praying daily, reading the bible, being faithful to our families, doing God’s work, and leading that 1 soul sent to us to Christ. This is the image of the slaves who made a profit with their 1 mina.
The historical background of this parable. Herod the Great had died at Jesus’ birth. His son Herod Archilaus being next in line went to Rome to receive kingship from the Roman emperor Caesar. As he was a very heartless wicked man, the Jews sent a delegation to petition against his kingship. In the end, Archilaus did not receive all the regions but only the Judea region & upon his return, he massacred 3000 people during the Passover week because of the delegation.
In telling this parable, Jesus knew they would be reminded of what they did. But now the nobleman is referring to Jesus. The citizens are the Pharisees and religious leaders who only cared for their authority and power over the people. They did not want Jesus as their Messiah, their King. Here Jesus is rebuking 2 kinds of people: the citizens who didn’t want the king and the servants who didn’t want to make a profit. What they have in common is their desire for their Lord not to return and be their King. But the parable concludes with the nobleman returning as king.
Our Lord Jesus is certainly coming back as King. And 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 tells that the saints will rule together with the Lord in the end. It is the servant who made a profit & is faithful who will rule with Jesus. The servant who made 10 extra minas is given 10 cities to rule over. Isn’t this reward excessive? But what Jesus is saying: If you are faithful in a small thing, I will give you a city. This is the importance of that 1 mina. In the gospel of Luke, we can see the emphasis on that 1 lost soul that Jesus came to find. In Luke 15, it is the 1 lost thing: 1 lost sheep out of 100, 1 lost coin out of 10, 1 lost prodigal son. In Luke 16, poor man Lazarus is the 1 poor lost soul safe in the kingdom of heaven. In Luke 17, Jesus speaks against stumbling the 1 lost soul & of the 10 healed lepers only 1 came back to give thanks. In Luke 18, Jesus focused on the weak – widows, tax collectors, children, blind beggars. In Luke 19, the 1 lost soul, Zacchaeus the chief tax collector was saved. And in Luke 20, the offering of 1 widow was highlighted.
We have also been given 1 mina. What are we doing with it? Let us look at it in 2 aspects:
1) Your mina is time, the 1 life given to you.
2) Your mina is the 1 lost soul given to you to lead to Christ.
If we have been given 100 years to live, how much time do we still have left? And have we made any profit with our time so far? Apostle Paul says to make most of our time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). How do I do that? What is worth my time? Would money be worth exchanging my time for? How about bringing 1 soul back to Jesus? If I had to invest 10 years of my life & money to evangelize that 1 soul, will it be worth it? For Jesus, that 1 soul is worth it.
And that 1 soul given to us could be our parents, our children, colleagues. God has given us 1 life & if through that 1 life, we can lead 5 or 10 lives to Jesus, we have made a profit. Do not think that you do not have many years left, or that you are little and insignificant. Your life is the precious mina God has given & instructed us to make a profit from it. May we be the good and faithful servants who will be given 10 or even 100 cities to rule over in the kingdom of heaven.