Ern Christian – Actual Value of the Pound (Luke 19) - Oak Lodge - 2011

One of the parables that Jesus spoke of in the 19th chapter of Luke has been on my mind for quite some time at other conventions as well as this one because it applies to every one of us in the Meeting here today, and it applies to me.

It tells us that after Jesus was speaking to Zacchaeus and others that He added and spake a parable because He was nigh unto Jerusalem, and because they thought the Kingdom of God should immediately appear.  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, 'We will not have this man to reign over us.'"

I suppose it wasn't unusual for some of the disciples and others to think that this Kingdom of Heaven would be a Kingdom that would be established upon this earth like the Kingdom of David and Solomon.  Jesus had already said before that the Kingdom of God is within you and it was there that the Lord is to reign and to have His throne.  It's there that He wants to have control in individual lives of His children, and that's where His Kingdom begins.

Although there were some here that thought about this, Jesus spoke this parable.  He spoke of this nobleman.  There was never any more noble man upon this earth than Jesus.  He was noble in everything He did, and he was speaking to them of the time that he had spent here on this earth opening up the Gospel to them.  He was going to leave them and go back and return to His place as a king.

I was thinking of that, and it tells us that he gave them a pound each.  I was looking up the meaning of that word, and in Hebrew it doesn't speak of the natural money of today, but it speaks of money that was used by the Hebrews.  It was a bit more valuable than today's one pound. It was something like a whole year’s wages for an ordinary labourer in the field, and so it was a fairly big gift, that was given in this parable.  It was a gift that He gave to His servants.

It made me think the first time I read this, "What did the Lord give me through the Gospel when He opened up the way for me to have a place in His family?"  It should make everyone of think that, "What did the Lord give to us; what was the thing He gave to us that was as valuable to us as it was to those men at that time?"  That was equal to a year’s wages, but we know that what the Lord gave us was far more valuable than what we could ever get in this world.

He gave, first of all, His love when we didn't love Him.  He took away the love of the things we thought would bring pleasure to us, and He gave us His love when we did not love Him.  We think of that love of God which is very different to human love.  Human love is part of the human nature and it cannot be anything else, but it also has a basis of selfishness.  We want something for ourselves, but we think of the love of God, it is unselfish absolutely.  God just doesn't want something for Himself but He wants to give it to us, and that's the love of God.

I was thinking of what Jesus had in His life; what He did and said of expressing that love.  Jesus said to His disciples and to everybody else, that they should love one another as He had loved them, and, when we look into His life, we see that He did.

We couldn't make a very great expression of our love could we?  We could often speak about it and what it means to us and how God loved us when we didn't love Him, but it needs to go a little deeper than that, so Jesus is saying here, "I'm giving this to you; I'm giving you My love and My mercy and My long-suffering and My patience and humility and forgiveness, and you go and occupy yourself with it."  "Occupy," He said.  We know the evidence of true love is what is done, not what is said about what God has done for us, but as we look into His word we see it is far deeper than that. We get to understand what it means to have the love of God.

I was thinking about how the Lord has made that salvation and redemption for us to help us to understand that love.  We know He gave us a human body and a human nature from the beginning and we often feel like we'd like to despise that human nature because we are not very old when it begins to take control of our life, and it leads us to please ourselves and to have our own way, and want what it can do for us, but we realised then that it doesn't bring us joy or any true gladness at all.  It gives us quite a lot of trouble often and disappointments in many ways, and that's what it was meant to do.  You know, the Lord gave it to us and He had a very good reason and a very important reason to give it to us, so that we would have the opportunity of proving that taking our own way is a failure.

We think of the Angels that didn't have this Spirit that they would like to look into it; this plan of Salvation that God has given to us.  They would like to look into it because they never had this privilege, they were made as God's Spiritual Servants to stand before Him, and to look upon His perfect life and those who appreciated it, were made His Servants, but quite a lot listened to Satan and were carried away.

The Lord in Revelation speaks about the old devil that he has a tail, and he sweeps his tail and knocks down a third of the stars of Heaven.  He wasn't speaking of physical stars, but He was speaking of what Satan had done when he carried away a third of God's Spiritual Servants as a result of thinking there was something better in taking their own way.  I believe God wants to give us the opportunity of proving that our own way is wrong and it will never bring us any true joy and gladness and peace that we thought it would.  The Lord won't have any worries in eternity because Satan won't have a place there and one day decides he wants to take his own way.

God wants us to have the opportunity of being there, and I hope that this human nature has done something for us, by helping us to understand we would never want to have our own way, because it will fail us and leave us without any hope or joy in our lives for all eternity.  We know it's the first part of our human nature and we can't despise it because the Lord gave it to us for that reason, and then another reason, a very important reason, is that it causes us to become sinners in God's sight.  It opens up to God, the opportunity that He planned right from the beginning of the world; from the very foundation of the world.  We read of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so the plan of redemption and Salvation was already there.

Right from the beginning it was a perfect plan; the plan to give us a human body and to give us a human nature and make us sinners.  He knew we would all become sinners because before long, that human nature would take us in the wrong way.  He done it at a great expense; a great cost to Himself and to His Son, to redeem us and we know that is the story of the Gospel that Jesus was willing.  His life was not taken from Him, but He gave it and the Bible teaches us that Jesus gave His life willingly, quietly and obediently to be the sin offering for us when He died on the cross.  He endured death with the greatest pain upon His natural body that He might be the sin offering for us.  He wanted to do this because of His Spirit and His love for God.

He kept that same wonderful Spirit and love for God in His own life and right through that terrible experience.  Then we know, at the end as we've heard already in the Meeting when He hung on that cross that He made that prayer to His Father that God would forgive them for they know not what they do.  That's showing His love for them too, we know.  During that time, the man who was a thief on the cross with Him, and he repented and he understood that Jesus was the Son of God and the Saviour at that time. He said to Jesus, "Remember me when Thou cometh into Thy kingdom," and Jesus didn't say, "You are only paying the price for your sin now."  No, He said, "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise."

We can see the Spirit of love, and you know, we see that the Lord had the Spirit from the beginning and He would understand His Father, and know what it is to say that we should love each other as He has loved us.  Also to love sinners; those who count themselves as our enemies, and those who treat us badly.  You know, we could never do that with our human nature, could we?  God has made it possible because He has given us a love for what He has done for us.  That's what will increase the love in our heart when we realise that God has a wonderful love for us and what He has done for us.

I like the thought of that gift that was given to those men at the time, that it was something that increased with the using. You know, everything we use in this life will either breakdown or rust or fall apart; everything, but these things of God will increase with the using thereof.  The love of God and His mercy and kindness and long-suffering and patience and His wonderful humility and forgiveness. Jesus has set this before us and we use these ourselves and also giving them out to others.  That's what occupying means.  We can't talk about the love of God and the mercy of God and what God means to us, without first having these things in our own lives and we like to show it to others, we'd like to show all we do and say to everybody, "That's what Jesus was speaking about in this parable. He wants us to do these things and we cannot express them in any other way but by giving them out, because no one could ever understand it apart from us."

Then I thought that, after this, he commanded those Servants to be brought to him; those to whom he had gave the money that he might receive what they had gained by it.  The first one came and said "Thy pound has gained ten pounds," and he said, "Well done, thou good Servant, because thou hast been faithful in little, have thou authority over ten cities."

The second Servant had gained five and he said likewise to him "Be thou over five cities."  You know, I noticed this having authority means that you will have the control over the power of these cities.  You know, Jesus was speaking of eternity; He was saying, "When I come back, I will be able to trust you in the new Heaven and the new earth, with just how you used the love and mercy and forgiveness I’ve given you down here on this earth, and these things have increased in your life because you've been using them as these Servants did."  Be careful of these things that we have, so that we can [be] used and given out to others.  We can't gain any natural things by holding some money and putting it in a cupboard, can you?  It's got to be given out to others and that's what Jesus was saying.

Then there was the one man who came to him and he said, "Here is your one pound and I'll give it back to you."  He didn't speak about the other ones but he said, "I feared thee because thou art an austere man and takest up what thou layest not down, and reapest where thou didst not sow."  The nobleman said, "Thou knewest that I was an austere man – a hard man, taking up what I laid not down and reaping what I had not sowed, and you didn't do anything with the money I gave to you."

I thought that was rather unusual when I read that years ago, saying that God was like that hard man, but it's not like that at all.  What I believe is that we know the greatest joy to the Lord, is that we give out and be a help to others, and prove that in our life.  His love and His mercy and kindness. David, after he had sinned, said, "Thy mercy is as high as the heavens," there is no limit to it, and nobody has ever found the limit yet – there is no limit to God's mercy.  We understand that God rejoices in that; rejoices in giving to us these gifts, and they should mean something to us.

This man, he lost his opportunity to do something for the Lord.  God has given of Heaven's best to us, and didn't want to keep all the joy to Himself, and He wants to give us the opportunity to do something for Him, that's what Jesus was saying.  It will cost us something to serve the Lord, and it will cost us something to deny ourselves, and it will cost us something to be humble and to take the lowest place.  It’s costly to be merciful and to have a love for our enemies and so forth, but when the judgement day comes and we stand before Him, we won't be able to say that He hadn't given us an opportunity to do His Will.  He has given us that opportunity and He has opened up the way that we can prove Him, and have the joy that the Lord has, when He gives the best to us.