*What did the Jews misunderstand about their Messiah?
*What does God expect of those called?
*How dependent was Jesus on the Father for His teaching?
*Why were the publicans and harlots more righteous than the priests and elders?
*What is the proper attire at the marriage supper of the Lamb?
The disciples thought Jesus had come to set up His kingdom at that time. Not so, Jesus said. “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11). Jesus, then, by means of a parable, went on to show this was not the case.
He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me (Luke 19:12-27).
Keep in mind, the Jewish community of that day envisioned a Messiah who would free them from the Roman yoke. They had no real concept that the Messiah had come as a sacrificial lamb-to give His life for the sins of the world. The Jews did not realize the establishment of the kingdom of God and the restitution of all things would not take place until the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus dispelled this Jewish concept by this parable. Who was the young nobleman in the parable? Jesus, of course! Those who refused to accept the young nobleman in the parable-Christ-would receive their just desserts at the time of the judgment (v. 27). Between the time the young nobleman left and returned, the faithful servants continued to serve him. So, the lesson of the parable is to teach those of us called to a knowledge of the truth at this time how to handle this responsibility.
The examples of the five and ten pounds illustrate this. Whatever God has given us, we are expected to increase so that our assets will be of a greater value to God when He sets up His kingdom. This kingdom, Jesus said, will be a literal kingdom with people and cities. Those in the kingdom of God will bear rule over cities. We read in the book of Revelation: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). But, what happened to the man who hid his assets and refused to bring forth an increase? While he was given less to begin with, had he increased what he had he would have been duly rewarded. The man condemned himself by refusing to bring forth any increase even when he viewed his lord as austere. This is why his pound was confiscated. On the other hand, the man who had gained ten pounds was given more. Why? Because he had demonstrated his ability to produce. The lord knew such a one deserved more as he could produce even more. The worst fate, however, befalls those who rejected the lord. They were slain. The lesson in this parable is that we must develop our talents and abilities to the best of our capability so that God can use them when He establishes His kingdom. He will reward those who have been faithful. We must never allow ourselves to rest on our laurels and refuse to advance the cause of our Lord.
Jesus performed many miracles during His ministry-miracles no other man had ever performed-yet the Jews rejected His claim of Messiahship based on their preconceived ideas of what they thought the Messiah should be. “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). Jesus, quite aware of this human proclivity, said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). The question is, what was the source of Jesus’ teaching? Jesus gave His answer: “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak” (John 12:49-50). Two important principles are revealed here: 1) The words that Jesus spoke are the words of life; and 2) these words must be believed in order to gain eternal life.
Jesus was constantly challenged by the religious authorities of the day. “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” (Matt. 21:23). Jesus turned the tables on them.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things (Matt. 21:24-27).
Then, Jesus went on to illustrate this situation by an example.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? . .” (Matt. 21:28-31).
The answer was so obvious the religious leaders could not weasel out of it as they had just done to Jesus’ previous question. “. . . They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (v. 31). Jesus made it plain what He meant. “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (v. 32).
The religious leaders were represented by the son who said yes, but refused to go. The publicans and the harlots were represented by the son who said no, but later repented and went. That is why they would be in the kingdom of God before the priests and elders. The lesson for us is that we must do more than merely profess Christ. We must do more than agree. We must act. We must be doers of the word, not just hearers (Jas. 1:22-25).
Another parable of Jesus illustrates a lesson for us. This is found in Matthew, chapter twenty-two. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come” (Matt. 22:2-3). Clearly, this is a reference to the Jews for their rejection of the Messiah. That they continued in this rejection is illustrated by verses four through six. “Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them” (vv. 4-6). “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (v. 7). This punishment certainly befell the Jews when their nation was destroyed by the Romans, but most importantly this text will be fulfilled when God sets up His kingdom, and the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place. After the Jewish rejection of Christ, the door was opened to the Gentiles. The parable continues. “Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests” (vv. 8-10). But at the feast one of the guests was not properly attired. Guests were normally provided with robes by the king. It was, therefore, a gross insult to the king not to be properly attired. When confronted the guest had no excuse. “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless” (vv. 11-12). What was the king’s response? “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (vv. 13-14).
What is the lesson here? Those who attend the marriage supper of the Lamb must be properly attired-in a robe of righteousness. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. . .” (Rev. 19:7-9). What is righteousness? “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psa. 119:172).