THE PARABLE OF THE BAGS OF GOLD
Kv; 14-15 14“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
Before our Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross, he repeated to his disciples, ‘Keep watch’. Then he taught them the meaning of keeping watch and how to do so through the Parable of the Faithful Servant, the Parable of the Ten Virgins, and the Parable of the Bags of Gold. Basically, to ‘keep watch’ means being faithful to the end. Jesus also gave serious warnings to those who were not faithful to God in the parables. What is Jesus’ emphasis in today’s parable? What is the meaning of this parable for us?
Read verses 14-15. 14“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.”
Here, Jesus again illustrates that the kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a journey after entrusting his wealth to his servants. He gave one five bags of gold, two bags of gold to the second, and one bag to the third, each according to his ability. ‘Ability’ is ‘capability, skill to do something’. ‘The master’ is Jesus himself, and ‘the servants’ are his disciples and all his followers. His journey suggests his ascension after his resurrection and then ‘a long time’ suggests his return taking a long time. (19)
‘The bag of gold’ in this parable is a huge amount of money. One piece of gold was valued at 6,000 denarius, one denarii, the value of a man’s one-day wage. Thus, five bags of gold were a large amount of money. Even one bag of gold was a lot of money, for it was 20 years wages for a man at that time.
How did the master deal with his servants when he returned?
I. Good and faithful servant.(16-23)
Read verses 16-17. “16The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.”
When the first and the second received the bags of gold, they put their master’s money to work at once and gained five bags more and two more, respectively. ‘The two servants went at once and put his money to work’ tells us of their absolute obedience to their master. There was no calculation or hesitation, but at once they put his money to work to earn more. It was the expression of their faith.
Then, after a long time, the master returned. Did he forget his money? Read verses 19-23. “19“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
When the master returned, he settled accounts with his servants whom he gave the bags of money to. The first servant showed his bags that gained five more; the second also showed the two bags he gained. Then the master was so happy. He said to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.”(21,23) The master regarded the first and the second equally. He wasn’t concerned about the amount of the money that was earned, but about their attitude and faithfulness to him. He was pleased by their faithful obedience, even though he was absent for a long time.
Here, we see faithful obedience to the end is an important quality for all believers. In this parable, Jesus again emphasizes that his believers must be faithful and obedient servants. His bag of gold is his assignment for his servants to work in their abilities until he returns. What is his assignment to all his followers? Read 28:18-20. “18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”(NKJV) It is the great commission, to preach the gospel to the entire world and to make disciples.
What made the servants to be faithful and obedient? First, they believed their master would return. They knew what he wanted and that they should put his money to work. Second, they kept their identity as the master’s servants, and so they didn’t ignore the master’s assignment until he returned. They used their time, energy, and effort, with their hearts, as their life-long job. They were the same as the faithful manager in 24:45-47. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food ate proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when returns.”
When we have a clear identity as servants of the gospel, we give our life to tell others about Jesus our Savior to believe in him and be his servants. We can’t be proud of what we have done and brag about our deed before other believers, for we know ourselves as his unworthy servants. “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (LK.17:7-10)
II. The wicked and lazy servant.(18, 24-30)
Read verses 18, 24-25. “18But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” “24“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’”
Why was the servant who had one bag of gold different from the other two? The reason was that his master was a hard man to him. He might have had a bad experience with his master. He also might have seen that his master harvested where he had not sown, gathered where he had not scattered seed and gave all his servants a hard time.
But what was his master’s response? Read verses 26-27. “26“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”
The master called him a ‘wicked, lazy servant’. He saw that the servant didn’t do anything until he returned. The servant ate and drank in the master’s house and fooled around without a sense of responsibility every day. He knew that the master took a long time to return, so he used his brain for his selfish life while the other servants worked hard to gain more. He might have thought that he was smart and the others were dumb. 24:48-50 describes about the servant: “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to eat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.”
Why was the servant wicked? First, he despised the master’s trust of him. Secondly, he ignored the master’s assignment, to ‘put the money to work’. Thirdly, he took advantage of the master’s grace upon his life; he abused his master’s long absence and lived for his selfish life. When he saw the assignment and the large amount of money, he felt a huge burden. He didn’t want to offer his energy and hard effort to work for the master. So, he just put it into the ground and enjoyed his pleasures. He didn’t take seriously how the master had mercy on him and his empty, meaningless life, and gave him a gracious job. His selfish pride made him wicked.
The master saw the servant’s wicked excuse. He saw the servant didn’t want to take his assignment and rebelled against him. He saw that the servant didn’t want to work hard for him, but he wanted to do what he wanted. Thus, he says, “28“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.” 29For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. “30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”(28-30)
This was the consequence of the wicked, lazy servant’s excuse and disobedience. By his mercy and grace, Jesus gives us again and again his warning about the consequence of disobedience when he returns. Before him, there is no excuse, because he knows men’s thoughts and hearts. Jesus knows men’s desires and will judge each person according to what he has done.
What does Jesus speak to us in this parable? Read key verses 14-15, again. “14“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.”
In these key verses, Jesus the master tells us who he is. He is the master who fully trusts all his believers and gives them his gold money to work according to their abilities. Here, again, the bag of gold represents assignments given to us according to our abilities. But what do the bags of gold represent? They mean Jesus’ assignment is not cheap, but have such great value that we can’t ignore it and put it in the ground. When he sacrificed his own life on the cross for each of our sins and salvation, he gave us his own life to share his love with others. This is not cheap and ignorable love to ignore, but greatly valuable news to share to all people. Secondly, ‘according to our abilities’ shows us his mindful care. The person who receives five bags of gold has a lot of responsibilities to work with his abilities, but the third has a lot less responsibility to work, so it is good for him to take his assignment and do well. Praise and thank our Lord Jesus who grants us his assignments according to our ability, revealing his mindful care.
Therefore, we must remember that he will surely return and settle accounts with us based on what we have done. We must also not ignore his greatly valued assignment, and do our best until the end. We must remember his reward and his happiness towards those who are good and faithful and obey him and accomplish his assignments. Jesus will grant his good and faithful servants his heavenly kingdom and to share in his happiness.
“14“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.” 19“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.”(14-15,19)
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