The Real Jesus
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The Real Jesus

Chapter 15

The Kingdom Parables

   There is as much confusion surrounding the message Jesus brought as there is about the personality of the man Himself — which is to say that there is an enormous lack of true understanding.
   Even the word gospel is usually misinterpreted or misunderstood — connoting to most minds something smacking of Bible-belt Christianity peculiar to that portion of the United States so named, or even referring to "gospel music" or any kind of evangelical fire-and-brimstone preaching (often times charismatic and accompanied by glossolalia or speaking in tongues).
   To the average layman, the "gospel message" is merely "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," judging from the billboards, barn roofs, roadside rocks and bumper stickers one may encounter.
   But if you were to see the analogy of Jesus as a true being from outer space who, born of the virgin Mary, trod this earth as a human being, but whose mind was totally attuned to the different dimension of the spirit world, who brought a message of a coming government which was to descend from the heavens above to quite literally conquer and rule over this entire earth, perhaps the "gospel" would take on an awesome new significance.
   If there had been in some far corner of the world a strange cylindrical capsule which, according to the natives, had come plummeting down in the cockpit of a flying saucer, and which represented a space-age "cockpit voice recorder," perhaps people would honestly believe there had come a message from outer space and an imminent attack from Martians, Venusians, or Plutonians would soon take place.
   Come to think of it, considering all of the many ideas about strange places on the earth (such as Lost Valleys in which primordial creatures still roam, the Bermuda Triangle, et al.), or the many concepts concerning UFOs and extraterrestrial phenomena, there are, no doubt, any number of people who believe just such an attack might some day occur.
   If, for the sake of argument or experimentation, Jesus could be seen for a moment as one who came from outer space, bearing a message of a future intervention of that special power which would drastically alter the course of human civilizations, the whole matter of the meaning of the gospel of the kingdom of God could be cleared up once and for all.
   Jesus plainly showed He was speaking of a future world-ruling government. He was continually talking to His disciples about positions of responsibility in that yet-future kingdom.
   Jesus drew analogy after analogy concerning not only the kind of Christian personality required to fulfill the final requirement of "enduring to the end" or qualifying to be one "who has overcome," but also illustrating the extent of the kingdom, the approximate time of its arrival, its inherent nature, the laws under which its citizens will be governed, and the celestial and terrestrial phenomena which will accompany its arrival.
   The precepts of religious tradition are so manifold and so laborious that trying to research the works of critics and scholars who have researched the works of other critics and scholars concerning their own concepts of the kingdom of God is not unlike being lost in a labyrinth of caverns with no lights.
   Some think the kingdom of God is a sentiment within a human being. Others believe it was the ancient Roman Empire finally "Christianized" by the Roman Catholic Church. Hitler thought he was going to set it up. Some believe it is here now, but only "ruling in the hearts of men" in some nebulous spiritual sense, meaning that collective feeling of "pervasive goodness" alleged to live in the hearts of Christians universally, be they Catholic or any of the hundreds of Protestant denominations. (Of course, according to "mainstream" evangelical theologians, this would almost certainly exclude any members of the alleged "sects" no matter how sincere or Bible-believing they may appear to be, simply because they are not one of the more "respected" or "establishment" theological bodies.)
   A simple perusal of what Jesus plainly said would clear up the matter for any questing mind once and for all. But it is necessary to go to the source, armed with the idea that Jesus, after all, ought to know. Since He was the advance emissary of the kingdom of God; the very Son of that God who sent Him to this earth, and the King of the coming kingdom, perhaps, after all, the one human individual more qualified than any other to know just precisely what is the kingdom of God is Jesus Christ Himself.
   Jesus continually preached about the kingdom of God (Matthew's gospel calls it "kingdom of heaven").
   He continually tells what the kingdom of God is like.
   On one occasion He said it was like leaven, using this example in the 13th chapter of Matthew where leavening is a type of righteousness. This analogy shows the all-pervasiveness of the kingdom which will finally spread over the entirety of the earth at the second coming of Christ.
   On another occasion, He talks about the kingdom being of such value it is like a "pearl of great price," or a great treasure a man found in a field which, once he had discovered it, leads him to sell every other earthly possession to purchase that one field.
   Of course, every conceivable political organization, military movement, paramilitary group and/or theological organization has tried to utilize the teachings of Jesus to justify its doctrines.
   Surprisingly, though most people feel communism and the Bible have nothing in common, the very word "common" appearing as it does, in connection with those believers who "sold their earthly goods in order to have all things common" could indicate an early attempt at communal living. (But put this together with one of Jesus' lessons about the kingdom and see how incongruous such a conclusion will become.)
   There are three major parables, all involving money, that Jesus gives about the kingdom of God.
   The first parable (in Matthew 20) is about the householder who hired laborers at different times during a day, yet paid them all the same wage at the end of the day.
   The second parable (in Matthew 25) is about a man who travels to a far country and entrusts differing sums of money ("talents") to his servants in proportion to their different abilities.
   The third parable (in Luke 19) is about a nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom and gave each of his servants one "pound" asking them to gain as much as possible before he returned.
   Each of these parables conveys a different aspect of the kingdom of God as its primary point, as well as some interesting secondary points.
   Let us now discuss each of these parables in detail, looking for practical information about human business, politics, financial affairs, labor relations, etc., as well as for the primary illustrations regarding the kingdom of God and its judgments.
   We find that Jesus' concepts of fairness would not be palatable to the labor unions and blue-collar workers of today.
   We begin by quoting each.
   Matthew 20:1-16: "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
   "So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good-man of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
   "But he answered one of them and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."
   On this occasion, Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a householder or home owner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
   When he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard to go to work. He went out again about 9:00 A.M. and. saw others standing in the marketplace jobless and idle and he said, "You can also go to work in the vineyard, and whatever is right, whatever is a fair wage, I will give you."
   The account says these jobless idlers were willing enough and went their way.
   Again Jesus said the landowner went out about noon and 3:00 P.M. and did likewise. Again about 5:00 P.M. (or apparently an hour before quitting time) he went out and found others standing and he said to them, "Why do you stand here all day idle?" They answered, "Because no one has given us a job." He said, "Then go to work in my vineyard."
   That evening, Jesus said that the master of the property called his foreman or his steward and said, "Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first." The account goes on to relate that all the laborers received exactly the same wages — even those who were hired at the very last moment; they all received a "penny" (the old King James English changes the Greek term denarios into a comparable sum in 1611). But when the first group came in — those who had been laboring all day long — they supposed they should receive more.
   Rumors had by now traversed the line of laborers waiting for their pay that those at the head of the line, who had only worked for one hour, were receiving a full wage. As a result there is no doubt that the ones who had gone to work early in the morning were expecting they would receive three to five times as much.
   However, astonishingly, they all received "every man a penny."
   Jesus went on to explain that "when they received it, they murmured at the householder, 'These last have spent only an hour working in the field, and yet you made their wages equal to ours even though we have had to bear the burden of the day in this scorching heat."
   The landowner then said, "Friend, I do you no harm or wrong: Didn't you agree with me to work for a penny? Take that which is yours, and go your way; for it is my determination to give to the last ones I hired, these that came into my vineyard at the eleventh hour, the same wages as I gave to you. Isn't it lawful for me to do what I want with that which is mine? Or is your eye evil — are you thinking malicious thoughts — because I am good to others?"
   Jesus' example here is laden with important principles concerning the kingdom of God; and at the same time would be almost impossible for the average wage-earner in a socialized society to accept.
   Jesus went on to conclude in this lesson given to His own disciples as well as to those who were standing, by saying, "The last shall be first and the first last."
   The obvious spiritual meaning of the parable is that those who walk this earth today at the eleventh hour of man's experience are like those who labored in the vineyard for only the eleventh hour, while perhaps other individuals who have lived and died long ago could be compared to those who labored longer.
   To students of eschatology, the immediate reference would be to the stated sequence of events in biblical prophecy which illustrate Jesus' final, famous statement that the "last shall be first, and the first last."
   The miraculous conversion, explained in Revelation 7, of a vast number from nations all over the world called "an innumerable multitude," plus the miraculous conversion at the very last moment prior to Christ's arrival on this earth of 144,000, representing 12,000 from every tribe of Israel except Dan, with a double portion going to Joseph, would obviously be inferred from this story.
   It illustrates the fact that while many will have been "enduring unto the end" and earning their righteousness "tried in the fire of tribulation" (Jesus said, "in the world ye shall have tribulation"), and will have been living lives of privation, hardship, persecution, and even martyrdom, there will, nevertheless, be hundreds of thousands of individuals who, within perhaps only a few weeks or even days of their conversion, will be inducted into God's kingdom.
   Still, there is more to the analogy since each human individual is limited by his own life span, when he or she was called to God, the vastly differing trials of life, etc.
   Therefore, in any normal life span, there will be some whose lives will be filled with enormous trials to take place over 70 or more years, while others will be converted in a very short period of time. Both groups will be fully born into God's Family and become eternal spirit beings and Sons of God, and although some will have understood God's truth and will have received the real Jesus Christ of Nazareth as their Savior for only weeks or even days, they will be just as much Sons of God with just as long eternal life.
   A more practical application of Jesus' parable of the householder and his practice of hiring idle passersby into his vineyard could cause some problems. Try it out on the unions of today and see what a riot would result!
   First, let's understand from this analogy that Jesus ratifies and supports the principle of private ownership of property, of success gained from one's own skills and effort, of the determination to set wages based upon mutually agreeable circumstances, and the right of a landowner to settle individual disputes on his own property, privately, between himself and his laborers.
   Furthermore, notwithstanding the obvious prophetic import of this analogy, there is a great deal which can be gleaned about the personality of Jesus as well as the character of the kingdom over which He says He will rule.
   Politically, it obviously suggests that the capitalistic system of competition and free enterprise is, as long as man-made governments endure, the best. It indicates, furthermore, that free enterprise will be part of the economic system in the millennial kingdom setup following Christ's second coming.
   Old Testament laws and judgments, coupled with New Testament teaching and Jesus' own example, uphold hard, honest work, and remuneration for that work. Also supported and upheld are the private ownership of property and sole control over such property according to law; the enjoyment of the fruits of one's own labors; and the ability to "lay up for one's children," meaning leaving an inheritance to come without governmental restrictions which would deprive legal heirs of the substance of their father's and grandfather's labors.
   Notice that there was no standardized wage forced upon employers and employees. Each made a private, separate agreement; each was paid exactly according to the stipulations of his own original agreement.
   Can't you imagine the placards and signs of those who would picket a modern-day vineyard where a winemaker had followed such a practice?
   Screams of outrage, the hurling of epithets, and the possible destruction of his property would surely result.
   The whole concept goes totally against the grain of our own beliefs that it is simply "not fair" for one person to receive exactly the same wage for working for 11 or 12 hours as does another person for working only one hour.
   Yet, Jesus makes the point that the vineyard owner had a perfect right to make different agreements with different people. He was in charge. The vineyard was his. The fruit of his own labor was his own home, lands, and crop.
   The householder had the perfect right to make private and exclusive agreements with each group of laborers for a specific wage.
   The householder was therefore his own employment agency, union, and arbiter in the case of disputes. Will there be unions, collective bargaining, etc., under the rule of Jesus Christ? This parable, at least, suggests not!
   It's no wonder the bumper sticker says, "Jesus will make you mad."
   Anyone who dares to pick up the unembellished gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and simply read them as they would any other textbook, though in modern, understandable English, could probably grow quite angry at the personality they discovered there. Especially anyone attempting to apply sociological principles revealed by Jesus Christ to the federalized, socialized, unionized welfare states of this modern world would soon find ample room for conflict.
   Jesus' concept of fairness is utterly different from our own; that what a person has earned by his own honest work is perfectly proper in God's sight; that what one can accomplish through one's own acquired skills need not be subjected to the rules and regulations of others. Certainly, this parable of Jesus, while surely primarily applicable to explaining the kingdom of God, upholds some of the fundamental values of the capitalistic system of private ownership and individual initiative.
   Matthew 25:14-30:
   "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou has that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
   This second important parable has been called "the parable of the talents."
   A talent was a great deal of money; it represented an ancient Greek unit of weight — the heaviest in use — both for monetary purposes and for commodities. (It is understood that our English-language use of the word "talent" to imply the general capacity for knowledge or ability came about directly as a result of Jesus' use of the term.)
   As the heaviest unit of monetary weight, Jesus' example obviously means that the benefactor of the servants was investing a great deal of his own money.
   In this case, the property owner appears as a person who is about to move into a different nation, and who calls his own servants and delivers into their hands much of his wealth. Jesus said, "to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each person, he gave according to his different abilities; and the property owner went on his journey" (paraphrased, and so throughout parable).
   According to the analogy, the one who received the five talents went and traded with them, using the principle of making money with money, and increased his bankroll by five talents; this means he achieved a 100 percent rate of return on his investment and eventually accumulated ten talents all together.
   Though starting with a lesser amount, two talents, and therefore representing by analogy an individual with somewhat less ability or "natural talent," the second servant also bartered with the money he had received and also increased his estate 100 percent, ending up with a total of four.
   But the individual who began with the least ability was both fearful and security-minded. He was taking no chances. Jesus said, "But he that received the one went away and dug in the earth, and hid his lord's money."
   As Jesus related the story, in due time the master returned home and asked for a reckoning.
   He said, "And he that received the five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, Lord, you delivered unto me five talents; look — I have gained five more talents!" Jesus said the householder said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things; enter into the joy of your Lord."
   This scripture has been used in hundreds of sermons to illustrate that ultimate statement which is the most prized to any human individual who is truly and sincerely seeking entry into God's Kingdom. To be told, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," no matter the degree of inherent, beginning ability, is the most priceless pronouncement any person could ever hear. (Notice, as the account proceeds, that the householder said the identical words to the one who reported he also had doubled his talents — starting with two he ended up with four — even though this man had only 40 percent of the first servant's sum.)
   Finally, Jesus said, "And he also that had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord I knew you were a very stern man; reaping where you do not sow and gathering where you did not scatter — taking what is not even yours — and I was afraid; so I went away and hid your sum of money in the earth. Here is what you gave me; I did not lose it.'"
   But, Jesus said, the householder said to him, "You wicked and lazy servant — you understood that I am an investor; that I have used my money to increase my fortunes, and not always through my own human physical labor; at the very least, knowing this, you should have invested my money in the bank (for at least they know how to properly reinvest it), so that at my coming I could have received back that which was my own with interest."
   Note that, contrary to some superrighteous attitudes, there is no condemnation whatsoever of the wealthy homeowner who first gave private loans and then expected a reckoning, fully planning both to reward and punish accordingly. Notice also the obvious approval given for a financial system of money and banking much as we know it today.
   Jesus illustrates that it is not wrong for money to "earn interest," notwithstanding the attitudes of some to the contrary; at the same time He gives divine approval to the principle of "making money with money," by providing the 'capital for would-be entrepreneurs whose successes are then shared by the investor or capitalist.
   Again, notice how totally cross-grained is the statement of the individual who, terribly security-minded, thought to hide his money in a can underneath the chicken coop.
   Jesus said that the householder said, "Take away the talent from him, and give it to him that has the ten! For to everyone who has shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but to him who has not [has earned nothing; increased nothing, overcome not at all] even that which he has [which wasn't his own in the beginning] shall be taken away."
   Jesus then gave the antithesis of His statement, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" spoken to the other two by saying, "Cast out the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
   Then follows the account of the "sheep and the goats," with Jesus' statements concerning rewards and punishments in the kingdom — which has led many individuals to assume the judgment scene is like a great courtroom in the sky, with a magic lever automatically plunging the unfortunate "wicked servant" down into an everburning hell, and with a supercatapult poised toward heaven ready to spring the "good and faithful servant" into the beatific vision!
   It seems lost on many that judgment is a process of separation; that the Bible plainly says, "Judgment must begin today" on the Church of God (those who are converted and baptized), and that the "Great White Throne Judgment" pictured in the Bible takes place over at least one lengthy lifespan, and is as much a "process" as any other lengthy assessment.
   Unfortunately, few seem to realize that God's "judgment" IS not a summary execution of punishments following an angelic indictment over dozens of filthy deeds done in this human life. God's righteous judgment is carried out throughout the span of life following repentance, the receiving of knowledge of God's truth and the begetting of His Holy Spirit.
   You can forget the childish horror story of a harsh God who sits in long robes with white hair and beard, and with a huge gavel in His hand, waiting for that one moment of sadistic delight when He can crash His gavel down on the judgment bench, looking almost through you with piercing, ice-blue eyes, and say. "Guilty!"
   These two examples — the laborers in the vineyard and the investor of large sums of money — illustrate very clearly that "the kingdom of heaven is like" both of these pragmatic analogies. Therefore, Jesus illustrates the fact that human individuals are judged according to their natural abilities; according to the exact degree of knowledge and understanding they possess, according, to use the vernacular, to "what they did with what they had to do with."
   Luke 19:12-27:
   "He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."
   Some consider this final parable concerning money to be perhaps the most important of all.
   The reason Jesus gave it was that many of His disciples were making the mistake tens of thousands of others have made all the way down through history, and are still making to some extent today: they thought the kingdom of God would immediately appear (Luke 19:11).
   Some 150 years ago, sincere believers thought Napoleon was the anti-Christ, and surely the kingdom was then coming soon. Others had thought the world could not grow any worse in the days of Martin Luther, and surely Christ had to come soon.
   Whether it was during the Crusades, the Hundred Years War, the Black Death in Europe, or the Revolutionary War, there were many in every generation who confidently predicted the end of the world. During World War I, World War II, and during practically every other major global event before and since, there have always been those who claimed the "end" was near.
   Supposed "anti-Christs" have included most major military figures of the past, practically every papal occupant, Hitler, Mussohni, various kings, prime ministers, presidents, even bankers and business leaders.
   When He gave this parable to His disciples, Jesus was very close to Jerusalem; He was in Jericho, a short distance from the Jordan River valley, and was staying at the home of a very wealthy man named Zacchias who was the chief publican or tax-collector, but apparently a fair one.
   Even though Zacchias had the reputation of being "a sinner" (the general populace remained terribly suspicious of, and virtually hated, all publicans), he was able to tell Jesus that he had actually given half his goods to the poor, never wrongfully extracted money from anyone, and would restore fourfold if and when a mistake was made.
   Because they were close to Jerusalem, Jesus wanted to straighten the disciples out on the matter of whether He intended to go to Jerusalem in triumphal entry to bring about an earthly "kingdom" at that time.
   He told them about a certain nobleman who went away into a far country to receive a kingdom for himself and return.
   Jesus said, "He called his ten servants, gave each of them ten pounds, and instructed them each to conduct appropriate business with his investment until he returns" (paraphrased, and so throughout parable).
   Jesus is obviously the "certain nobleman" who went away into a far country (the throne of His Father in heaven) and His servants are, by analogy, individual Christians on this earth who, though varying in basic talent and ability as well as individual responsibilities, are each given challenging commissions and responsibilities in this life.
   In this case the British pound is the unit of money that is used by the King James translators. Jesus said that the servants were given the money (a pound sterling) to "trade with" until He returned.
   The analogy continued, "But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man reign over us." (This reminds me of the skid-row "wino" who, peering bleary-eyed through a wine-soaked fog at a would-be benefactor who is peeling off ten dollar bills into his outstretched hand, says, "Look, fella, just what is it you want from me?")
   Jesus' analogy said, "And it came to pass, when he returned home, having received the kingdom, that he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. And the first came before him, saying, Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more."
   The man had increased 1000 percent! Again, the same wonderful words as were recorded in Matthew's account of the parable of the talents are said. The nobleman proclaimed, "Well done, you good and faithful servant; because you were faithful in a very little, you are to have authority over ten cities."
   The second servant came saying, "Your pound, Lord, has made five pounds." And he heard the identical words, though his reward was in exact proportion to the amount of increase, which in this case was 500 percent: "Be also over five cities."
   Again, the reward was exactly commensurate with the degree of increase.
   Inevitably, here came "Mr. Cautious" with his debilitating admixture of ignorance of "the system," fear and suspicion of those who were wealthy, and an unhealthy desire for security. All of this resulted in his saying, "Lord, here is your pound which I kept laid up in a napkin because I was afraid of you. I knew you were an austere person; you pick up that which you didn't lay down and reap what you did not sow." (Almost the identical words, though in a slightly different analogy than Jesus used in the parable of the talents.)
   Jesus said that the nobleman replied, "Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I am an austere man, picking up that which I did not lay down, and reaping that which I did not sow; then why didn't you at least put my money into the bank, so that at my return I could have at least received back what was mine with interest."
   Jesus said, "Take the pound away from him, and give it to him who already has the ten pounds."
   If this sounds strange to us today, it also sounded strange to those in the story Jesus related.
   Those standing by, who now had been charged with this unpleasant task, said, "Lord he already has ten pounds! He doesn't need another one!"
   Jesus answered, "I am telling you that to everyone that has shall be given [and the only reason he "has" is because he has diligently overcome, grown, developed, improved and increased; because he has followed every principle of success and endurance including sweating out the hardships which would always exist in such a success story], but from him that has not [has not increased, not overcome, not grown or developed at all], even that which he has (precious little, if any of his own) shall be taken away from him. But as for these enemies of mine who would not have me rule over them, fetch them here and execute them in my presence."
   A rather chilling ending to an otherwise pleasant enough, though difficult to understand, analogy.
   Christ is clearly the "young nobleman" who went away into a far country to be crowned king and return. The "citizens" do not embody any members of any particular race; but represent, collectively, that group of individuals who simply cannot stomach the thought of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Boss, Ruler and Master who dares to expect faithful obedience of His followers.
   Modern people want to believe in a comfortable household god they can kick into a corner at will; a "Jesus" made in their own image who is a spiritual tranquilizer for their problems.
   In this last parable, these people represent those individuals who, by their combination of life-styles, attitudes, approaches and religious precepts, are constantly sending a "message" to Jesus saying, "We are not about to submit to any arbitrary spiritual dictatorship!"
   In these three major "money" parables, Jesus is obviously the one who is proportioning the reward: to the laborers in the vineyard, those who were given the heaviest unit of Greek money to invest, or those who were required to invest their pounds.
   Human beings, all of whom are different in some way, and who have varying degrees of knowledge, understanding and some skill, are represented by those who began equally, yet overcame and developed to different degrees according to their own "several abilities."
   The rewards, at the time of Christ's arrival in the power of His kingdom, are plainly stated to be rulership over "cities."
   Practically no professing Christian really understands the full scope of these simple truths today. The plain scriptures on the subject, especially Revelation 2:26, 3:21 and 5:10, plainly state that co-rulership with Christ over the nations on earth is the reward of the saved.
   What's wrong with this physical earth, after all? That's where all the problems and opportunities are!

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Publication Date: 1977
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