Jesus’ Life and Ministry
The Illustration of the Minas
JESUS is perhaps still at the home of Zacchaeus, where he has stopped en route to Jerusalem. His disciples believe that when they get to Jerusalem, he will declare that he is the Messiah and set up his Kingdom. To correct this idea and to show that the Kingdom is yet a long way off, Jesus gives an illustration.
“A certain man of noble birth,” he relates, “traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power for himself and to return.” Jesus is the “man of noble birth,” and heaven is the “distant land.” When he arrives there, his Father will grant him kingly power.
Before leaving, however, the man of noble birth calls ten slaves and gives each of them a silver mina, saying: “Do business till I come.” The ten slaves in the initial fulfillment represent Jesus’ early disciples. In an enlarged application, they picture all who are prospective heirs with him in the heavenly Kingdom.
The silver minas are valuable pieces of money, each amounting to about three months’ wages for an agricultural worker. But what do the minas represent? And what kind of business are the slaves to do with them?
The minas represent assets that spirit-begotten disciples could make use of in producing more heirs of the heavenly Kingdom until Jesus’ coming as King in the promised Kingdom. After his resurrection and appearance to his disciples, he gave them the symbolic minas for making more disciples and thus adding to the Kingdom-of-heaven class.
“But,” Jesus continues, “his citizens hated [the man of noble birth] and sent out a body of ambassadors after him, to say, ‘We do not want this man to become king over us.’” The citizens are Israelites, or Jews, not including his disciples. After Jesus’ departure to heaven, these Jews by persecuting his disciples made known that they did not want him to be their king. In this way they were acting like the citizens who sent out the body of ambassadors.
How do the ten slaves use their minas? Jesus explains: “Eventually when he got back after having secured the kingly power, he commanded to be called to him these slaves to whom he had given the silver money, in order to ascertain what they had gained by business activity. Then the first one presented himself, saying, ‘Lord, your mina gained ten minas.’ So he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because in a very small matter you have proved yourself faithful, hold authority over ten cities.’ Now the second came, saying, ‘Your mina, Lord, made five minas.’ He said to this one also, ‘You, too, be in charge of five cities.’”
The slave with ten minas pictures a class, or group, of disciples from Pentecost 33 C.E. until now that includes the apostles. Those that gained five minas also represent a group during the same time period that, according to their opportunities and abilities, increase their king’s assets on earth. Both groups zealously preach the good news, and as a result, many righthearted ones become Christians. Nine of the slaves did successful business and increased their holdings.
“But,” Jesus goes on, “a different one came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, that I kept laid away in a cloth. You see, I was in fear of you, because you are a harsh man; you take up what you did not deposit and you reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I judge you, wicked slave. You knew, did you, that I am a harsh man, taking up what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Hence why is it you did not put my silver money in a bank? Then on my arrival I would have collected it with interest.’ With that he said to those standing by, ‘Take the mina from him and give it to him that has the ten minas.’”
Loss of the symbolic mina means loss of a place in the heavenly Kingdom for the wicked slave. Yes, he loses the privilege of ruling, as it were, over ten cities or five cities. Note, too, that the slave is not pronounced wicked for any badness he does but, rather, for failing to work for the increase of the wealth of his master’s kingdom.
When the wicked slave’s mina is given to the first slave, the objection is made: “Lord, he has ten minas!” Yet, Jesus answers: “To everyone that has, more will be given; but from the one that does not have, even what he has will be taken away. Moreover, these enemies of mine that did not want me to become king over them bring here and slaughter them before me.” Luke 19:11-27; Matthew 28:19, 20.
◆ What prompts Jesus’ illustration of the minas?
◆ Who is the man of noble birth, and what is the land to which he goes?
◆ Who are the citizens, and how do they show their hatred?
◆ Who are the slaves, and what is represented by the minas?
◆ Why is one slave called wicked, and what does loss of his mina mean?