Last Judgment Sunday
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His own blood and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father, to him be glory forever and ever, Amen! In the name of Jesus, our King and Master, dear friends in Christ, they say driving a brand new car you just purchased off the dealer’s lot, on average the car has already depreciated 11 percent in value. They say a timeshare bought on the primary market will resale for about 1/5 of the purchase price. A new cell phone that can be purchased for $200 in one year is being sold for $.99 with a plan. Some things in life just simply aren’t good investments.
And we’re constantly making investments in our life, aren’t we? Perhaps we invest in our job, spend all our time and effort and energy in order to get a good position. Or perhaps we invest in ourselves, spend our money, time, and energy into getting an advanced college degree or spending hours and hours at the gym in order to get fit. Or perhaps we invest in travel so we spend our vacations and our savings going to different places around the world. Or perhaps we invest in our family or our friends, and spend our time and energy improving our relationships. Or perhaps we invest in deer hunting, so we spend money on a rifle and spend an entire days out in a deer stand. We’re constantly making investments in our lives, aren’t we? So, how do we know whether we’re making a good investment or a bad investment? What is the best investment that we can make in life?
In our text for this morning God helps us with our life investment strategy. Jesus is on His final trip to the city of Jerusalem where He will be betrayed and crucified. Our text happens right after Jesus has just passed through Jericho and is about to make the 18 mile rocky, desert trek uphill to Jerusalem. Jesus’ words to the crowds around Zacchaeus are ringing in everyone’s ears, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” And it’s the time of the Passover, the time when the Jews celebrated God’s amazing act of delivering their nation from slavery in Egypt. Now they’re congregating around this popular miracle-worker from Galilee who’s on His way to Jerusalem. “Could this be it? Will God come to the aid of His people and free them from the hated Romans? Will Jesus take back Jerusalem by force and turn Israel into a world-power like the good ol’ days under great king David?” And Jesus knew that they were thinking all these things, so He told them a parable to refocus them on much more important things than dreams about some earthly kingdom.
A certain nobleman traveled to a distant country to be appointed king and then return. At times this would happen in the Roman empire. Someone would travel to Rome and receive a kingdom. Well, while he was gone he decided to entrust to 10 of his servants some of his wealth- 10 minas. A mina was about 100 days wages – so in our day around 10 or 15,000 dollars. He entrusted this money to his servants not for safe-keeping but that they might invest it or put it to work for him. So off the nobleman went but his subjects hated him and didn’t want him to be their king. But he was made king anyway and returned to find out what his servants had done with his money. The first one came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” A 1,000 percent interest! The master was thrilled, “Well done, my good servant! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of 10 cities.” The second came and reported a 500% interest. The master said, “Take charge of 5 cities.” Notice that neither of them said, “Look, I’ve gotten this with your money” or “Look at what I did with your money.”
Well, then comes the third servant, “Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 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.” In essence, he told his master, “Take this back, I have no use for it. I was afraid of you…but you know what, you’re the harsh one, you’re ungenerous, you’re ruthless, I’m much better off using my time and effort to get stuff for myself! Why should I work for and serve you?” So the master said, “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow. Then why didn’t you act on this knowledge and simply put my money on deposit and have someone else invest it for you instead of hiding it away? Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten.” Then he said, “Bring those enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king and kill them in front of me.” Wow!
So what’s this parable talking about? The certain nobleman is Jesus himself. He was about to complete His work of salvation and ascend His throne as King of all the earth and on the Last Day He will return. In the mean-time Jesus has entrusted His “wealth” to His servants. He’s given His followers all kinds of spiritual and physical blessings: different skills, abilities, talents, time, treasures, interests, knowledge, etc. And most importantly He’s entrusted with all His followers the number one blessing: the Gospel: The message of sins forgiven in Jesus, the gospel- the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. And He wants that treasure invested. He wants His Gospel treasure to be multiplied. How so? In lives of appreciation. He wants His servants to honor Him with their lives, to live lives with selfless kindness and care for other people, to share the gospel and spread it with others so more may hear it and be brought to faith. He’s entrusted His gifts not just to Pastors, missionaries, and teachers, but equally to farmers, businessmen, salesmen, managers, nurses, in other words to you and me equally. And we invest His treasure wisely when we live as His children and take advantage of whatever opportunities we have to spread His gospel treasure with others.
Well, in the parable there are 4 types of people. First, there’s the subjects who hated their king and don’t want him to be their king. Who’s that? In Jesus’ day that was the majority of the Jewish nation who despised Jesus. But those subjects are still around today. Finally, it’s anyone who flat out rejects Christ and His kingship. But when THE King returns on the Last Day, they’re fate is sealed- everlasting destruction. Well, then, there’s the servants. There’s one who makes 10 additional minas- that’s Christ’s follower who faithfully uses the many gifts God has given to him or her. Then there’s the one who made 5 additional minas- that’s Christ’s follower who also faithfully used the gracious gifts God has given him or her. But then there’s the 3rd servant. Who’s that? That’s the one who pretends to be Christ’s follower, but inwardly doesn’t really like what God says, doesn’t really want to use his or her life in service to God, in other words, its someone who pretends to be a Christian be really isn’t.
So, which type of person are you? Am I? At least we’re not the subjects who hated the king, right? But which servant are we? Are we the faithful servants who take God’s gifts – all of them: our time, our talents, our abilities, our skills, our knowledge, whatever it is that the Lord has blessed us with, be it materially or spiritually, and invest it for His glory? How are we doing on the investment that God has given us? Each of us has a priceless treasure in our possession: a knowledge of the gospel, a knowledge of Jesus as the world’s Savior. But how do we use it? What are we doing with the investment that God has entrusted to us?
Do we take God’s gifts and use them for our own selfish-gain? Do we disown being our Savior’s servant because we risk being looked down on or marginalized? Do we hide the gospel treasure so that on Sunday morning we look one way and during the week nobody could tell by our words or actions whether or not we are Christ’s servants? Do our lives reflect the love of Christ in every aspect making God’s Word attractive to others? Or do people see nothing different between the way we live and the rest of the sinful world? Where have we invested our lives? In service to ourselves or in service to our Master who bought us with His blood? Which servant are you? Which am I? The fact is, Christ is coming, which servant is He going to find us to be? If I’m honest with myself, and if you are too, we must admit that when Christ returns He ought to treat us all like that unfaithful servant, expose the hypocrisy that lies in our hearts and be rid of us once and for all.
But the master said, “Well done, my good servant!” And God said that too. To whom? No, no it wasn’t to you or me, but to someone else. There was one faithful servant, only one who’s ever walked this earth. That faithful servant was always faithful with the Gospel. He lived it fully in His life showing perfect care and concern for other people 100 % of the time. He shared it faithfully with all. His life had this one purpose: to seek and to save the lost. He invested. He invested His own life, His own blood on a cross, to make the greatest investment ever: the full payment for the sins of the world. Jesus paid for your unfaithfulness! It’s only by God’s grace for us in Christ that each of us can say, “No, were not that wicked servant, but the faithful ones. Why? Because Christ was faithful in our place.
And that’s the key. If we’re lacking in faithfulness with the treasure God has entrusted to us, if we’ve made sinful investments with our lives, we don’t look inside ourselves, we aren’t motivated by our guilt, that we should be doing better! We’re not going to try and do better, rather, we look at what God has done for us. In Christ God invested everything in you, He bought and paid for you fully that you might live with Him forever. Knowing that, how can we not invest this gospel treasure He’s given us? How can we not use it? How can we not live life with joy- the joy of the Gospel that never fails us? How can we not make use of the knowledge that is ours?
Jesus is coming. What kind of servant will He find us to be?
Will He find people who have invested in the treasure of the Gospel? People whose whole life shows the power of the gospel. People who hear and study God’s Word regularly and eagerly, who receive the Lord’s Supper often, who influence their family with the gospel. People whose personal conduct, both in private and public, honors Christ. People who do their work “as to the Lord” doing it work faithfully as if they’re working for the Lord Himself. Will He find people who as the opportunities present themselves are ready to confess their faith in the Savior? Who support the work of the gospel and mission work. Who pray for it regularly. Will He find people who seriously want God’s kingdom to come to more and more people?
Jesus is coming. You’re His servant. In what have you invested? Amen.