Call to Worship October 14 2018
Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 19:11-27
“The occasion of our Lord speaking the parable before us, is clear and plain. It was intended to correct the false expectations of the disciples on the subject of Christ’s kingdom. It was a prophetic sketch of things present and things to come — which ought to raise solemn thoughts in the minds of all professing Christians.
We see, for one thing, in this parable — the present position of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is compared to ‘a certain nobleman, who went into a far country, to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.’
When the Lord Jesus left the world, He ascended up into Heaven as a conqueror, leading captivity captive. He is there sitting at the right hand of God, doing the work of a High Priest for His believing people, and ever making intercession for them. But He will not sit there always. He will come forth from the holy of holies to bless His people. He will come again with power and glory — to put down every enemy under His feet, and to set up His universal kingdom on earth.
At present ‘we do not see all things subjected to Him.’ The devil is the ‘prince of this world.’ (Hebrews 2:8; John 14:30.) But the present state of things shall be changed one day. When Christ returns — the kingdoms of the world shall become His!
Let these things sink down into our minds. In all our thoughts about Christ — let us never forget His second coming. It is well to know that He lived for us, and died for us, and rose again for us, and intercedes for us. But it is also well to know that He is soon coming again for us!
We see, for another thing, in this parable — the present position of all professing Christians. Our Lord compares them to servants who have been left in charge of money by an absent master, with strict directions to use that money well. They are to ‘Put this money to work, until I come back.’
The countless privileges which Christians enjoy, compared to the heathen, are ‘pounds’ given to them by Christ, for which they must one day give account. We shall not stand side by side in the judgment day with the African and Chinese — who never heard of the Bible, the Trinity, and the crucifixion. The most of us, it may be feared, have little idea of the extent of our responsibility. To whoever much is given — of them, much will be required.
Are we living like men who know to whom they are indebted, and to whom they must one day give account? This is the only life which is worthy of a reasonable being. The best answer we can give to those who invite us to plunge into worldliness and frivolity — is the Master’s commandment which is before us. Let us tell them that we cannot consent, because we are looking for the coming of the Lord. We desire to be found working when He comes.
We see, for another thing, in this parable — the certain reckoning which awaits all professing Christians. We are told that when the master returned, he ‘sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.’
There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge His people, and give to every one according to His works. The course of this world shall not always go on as it does now. Disorder, confusion, false profession, and unpunished sin — shall not always cover the face of the earth. The great white throne shall be set up. The Judge of all shall sit upon it. The dead shall be raised from their graves. The living shall all be summoned to the judgment bar. The books shall be opened. High and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple — all shall at length give account to God, and shall all receive an eternal sentence.
Let the thought of this coming judgment exercise an influence on our hearts and lives. Let us wait patiently when we see wickedness triumphing in the earth. The time is short. There is one who sees and notes down all that the ungodly are doing!
Above all, let us live under an abiding sense, that we shall stand one day at the judgment seat of Christ. Let us ‘judge ourselves’ — that we be not condemned by the Lord. It is a weighty saying, ‘And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books!’ (Revelation 20:12.)
We see, for another thing, in this parable — the certain reward of all true Christians. Our Lord tells us that those who are found to have been faithful servants, shall receive honor and dignity. Each shall receive a reward proportioned to his diligence. One shall be placed ‘over ten cities,’ and another ‘over five.’
The people of God receive little apparent recompense in this present time. Their names are often cast out as evil. They enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation. Their good things are not in this world. The gain of godliness does not consist in earthly rewards — but in inward peace, and hope, and joy in believing. But they shall have an abundant recompense one day. They shall receive wages far exceeding anything they have done for Christ. They shall find, to their amazement — that for everything they have done and borne for their Master, their Master will pay them a hundred-fold!
Let us often look forward to the good things which are yet to come. The ‘sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.’ (Romans 8:18.) Let the thought of that glory — cheer us in every time of need, and sustain us in every dark hour. Many, no doubt, are ‘the afflictions of the righteous.’ One great remedy for bearing afflictions patiently — is to look forward, like Moses, to the reward. (Psalm 34:19. Hebrews 11:26.)
We see, lastly, in this parable — the certain exposure of all unfaithful professing Christians at the last day. We are told of one servant who had done nothing with his master’s money, but had laid it away in a piece of cloth. We are told of his useless arguments in his own defense, and of his final ruin for not using the knowledge which he confessedly possessed. There can be no mistake as to the people whom he represents. He represents the whole company of the ungodly; and his ruin represents their miserable end in the judgment day.
Let us never forget the final end to which all ungodly people are coming. Sooner or later, the unbeliever and the impenitent will be put to shame before the whole world, stripped of the means of grace and hope of glory — and forever cast down to Hell! There will be no escape at the last day. False profession and formal religion will fail to abide the fire of God’s judgment. Grace, and grace alone — shall stand. Men will discover at last, that there is such a thing as ‘the wrath of the Lamb!’
The excuses with which so many content their consciences now, shall prove unavailing at the judgment bar of Christ. The most ignorant shall find that they had knowledge enough to be their condemnation. The possessors of buried talents and misused privileges will discover at last that it would have been better for them to have never been born.
These are solemn things. Who shall stand in the great day when the Master requires an account of ‘His pounds?’ The words of Peter will form a fitting conclusion to the whole parable, ‘Seeing that you look for such things — be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.’ (2 Peter 3:14.)”