Question: "What is the meaning of the Parable of the Ten Minas?"
Answer: Christ uses the Parable of the Ten Minas in Luke 19:11–27 to teach about the coming kingdom of God on earth. The occasion of the parable is Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem. Many people in the crowd along the road believed that He was going to Jerusalem in order to establish His earthly kingdom immediately. (Of course, He was going to Jerusalem in order to die, as He had stated in Luke 18:33.) Jesus used this parable to dispel any hopeful rumors that the time of the kingdom had arrived.
In the parable, a nobleman leaves for a foreign country in order to be made king. Before he left, he gave ten minas to ten of his servants (Luke 19:12–13). A mina was a good sum of money (about three months’ wages), and the future king said, “Put this money to work . . . until I come back” (verse 13).
However, the man’s subjects “hated him” and sent word to him that they refused to acknowledge his kingship (Luke 19:14). When the man was crowned king, he returned to his homeland and began to set things right. First, he called the ten servants to whom he had loaned the minas. They each gave an account for how they had used the money. The first servant showed that his mina had earned ten more. The king was pleased, saying, “‘Well done, my good servant! . . . Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities” (verse 17). The next servant’s investment had yielded five additional minas, and that servant was rewarded with charge of five cities (verses 18–19).
Then came a servant who reported that he had done nothing with his mina except hide it in a cloth (Luke 19:20). His reason: “I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow” (verse 21). The king responded to the servant’s description of him as “hard” by showing hardness, calling him a “wicked servant” and commanding for his mina to be given to the one who had earned ten (verses 22 and 24). Some bystanders said, “Sir . . . he already has ten!” and the king replied, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away’ (verses 25–26).
Finally, the king commanded that his enemies—those who had rebelled against his authority—be brought before him. Right there in the king’s presence, they were executed (Luke 19:27).
In this parable, Jesus teaches several things about the Millennial Kingdom and the time leading up to it. As Luke 19:11 indicates, Jesus’ most basic point is that the kingdom was not going to appear immediately. There would be a period of time, during which the king would be absent, before the kingdom would be set up.
The nobleman in the parable is Jesus, who left this world but who will return as King some day. The servants the king charges with a task represent followers of Jesus. The Lord has given us a valuable commission, and we must be faithful to serve Him until He returns. Upon His return, Jesus will ascertain the faithfulness of His own people (see Romans 14:10–12). There is work to be done (John 9:4), and we must use what God has given us for His glory. There are promised rewards for those who are faithful in their charge.
The enemies who rejected the king in the parable are representative of the Jewish nation that rejected Christ while He walked on earth—and everyone who still denies Him today. When Jesus returns to establish His kingdom, one of the first things He will do is utterly defeat His enemies (Revelation 19:11–15). It does not pay to fight against the King of kings.
The Parable of the Ten Minas is similar to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14–30. Some people assume that they are the same parable, but there are enough differences to warrant a distinction: the parable of the minas was told on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem; the parable of the talents was told later on the Mount of Olives. The audience for the parable of the minas was a large crowd; the audience for the parable of the talents was the disciples by themselves. The parable of the minas deals with two classes of people: servants and enemies; the parable of the talents deals only with professed servants. In the parable of the minas, each servant receives the same amount; in the parable of the talents, each servant receives a different amount (and talents are worth far more than minas). Also, the return is different: in the parable of the minas, the servants report ten-fold and five-fold earnings; in the parable of the talents, all the good servants double their investment. In the former, the servants received identical gifts; in the latter, the good servants showed identical faithfulness.