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§ 239. Parable of the Pounds. (Luke, xix., 11, seq.)

Christ made use of several parables during this last period of his life, while his disciples were still expecting that he would establish a visible kingdom, to give them purer ideas of the process by which it was to be founded and developed. Among these is the parable of the Pounds, which was given, according to Luke, just as they left Jericho, expressly because “he was nigh to Jerusalem, and they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.”

There were three points on which he specially sought to fix their attention, viz., the opposition he was to encounter at Jerusalem; his departure from them, and return at a later period to subdue his foes and establish his kingdom in triumph; and, finally, their duty to labour actively in the interval, and not to await in indolence the achievement of victory by other means, without their co-operation. He particularly aimed to show them that the position they should occupy in the developement of the kingdom of God would depend upon their zeal and activity in the use of the means intrusted to them. This he illustrated under the figure of a capital, loaned on interest; the same amount, viz., one mina, is committed to each of ten servants, and in proportion to the gain of this, whether more or less, is the station assigned to them by their master. One only is wholly rejected—he that guards carefully the sum committed to him and loses nothing, but gains nothing. The apology which he makes assists us to determine the particular character which Christ has in view. He excuses himself on the ground of fear; the lord is a hard master. He represents those, therefore, whose mistaken apprehensions of the account they will have to render keep them in inactivity, and who retire from the active labours of the world in order to avoid contamination from its unholy atmosphere. In many of the disciples, indeed, the prospect of the approaching struggle with the world may have suggested the thought of such a retirement.

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And not without reason is the capital which the unfaithful servant failed to employ appropriated to him who made the most of his. In deed, the key to the whole parable is given by Christ himself in that memorable saying, repeated so often and in such various connexions:644644   Cf. p. 105, 190.Unto every one that hath (i. e., hath as real and productive capital) shall (more, and ever more) be given (and most to him that gaineth most); and from him that hath not (i. e., does not truly possess what he has, but buries it) shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

In this parable, in view of the circumstances under which it was uttered, and of the approaching catastrophe, special intimations are given of Christ’s departure from the earth, of his ascension, and return to judge the rebellious Theocratic nation and consummate his do minion. It describes a great man, who travels to the distant court of the mighty emperor, to receive from him authority over his countrymen, and to return with royal power. So Christ was not immediately recognized in his kingly office, but first had to depart from the earth and leave his agents to advance his kingdom, to ascend into heaven and be appointed Theocratic King, and return again to exercise his contested power.


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