Just prior to entering Jerusalem where Jesus was to be crucified upon a Roman cross, Jesus gathered his disciples in the house of Zacchaeus and told this parable:
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.
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 19:11-27]
Jesus was preparing his followers for what was to come. They may have been expecting their Messiah to finally overthrow the ruling earthly power and setting up His kingdom, but Jesus knew otherwise and wanted his disciples to know what they were to be doing in His absence. He had spent the past several years preparing his disciples and teaching them about His heavenly kingdom, but now was about to leave them. What were they to do in his absence as they awaited His return?
While this parable speaks about a nobleman leaving his servants with amounts of money to use while he was away, Jesus was not talking about money. He used money as a metaphor they could understand to represent talents, gifts, expertise, knowledge, information, and other tools now possessed by His disciples to be used while they awaited His return. In other words, Jesus wanted them to be busy advancing the kingdom rather that sitting on their duffs… “Occupy till I come“.
Jesus also acknowledged in this parable there would be those people who resisted His kingdom. “We will not have this man to reign over us.“ [v. 14] Then, as now, there are unbelievers that not only don’t believe that Jesus is Lord, but actively resist and hate those that do believe. We should not be discouraged by this fact, rather we should be actively working to spreading the good news about Christ and exposing the deceptions of the enemy. Christians shouldn’t be hiding in their churches but instead taking the message “into the bank” [v. 23 ], into the realms of unbelievers… “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” [Luke 19:10]
Not every Christian is given the same talents to work with. Rather, there is a diversity of expertise to be used in various ways and in various places all to the same ends.
Some of the things Christians should be occupying themselves with include:
- “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22 (ESV)
- Sharing the Gospel.“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
- Healing the sick. “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” – Luke 9:1-2
- Give food to those who are hungry, give clothes to people who need them, provide shelter for people who have none, visit people who are sick, and give comfort to people who are in prison. [Matthew 25:34-40]
- Reconciling wrongs, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14
- Treat other people in the way that you want them to treat you. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” – Matthew 7:12a
- Making God’s Word, and prayer and fellowship with other believers a part of your life. “Come near to God and He will come near to you” – James 4:8.
- “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes.” – Ephesians 6:11
- Resisting the enemy. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7
- Exposing the lies and deceptions of the enemy. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.“ – Ephesians 5:11
I have written a more detailed and practical steps Christians can personally take to resist the enemy and advance the Kingdom as they Occupy till I come.
Must you do everything? I don’t believe so, but you must be doing something with the abilities God gave you. “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” [v. 26]
Yes my friends, there is much to do while we await the return of our Savior. What do you want to hear when He does return? “Well done, my good servant!” [v. 17] or “you wicked servant!” [v. 22]?