PUT THIS MONEY TO WORK
Key Verse 19:13
"So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.
'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'"
1. Read verses 1-7. How is Zacchaeus described? Why was he not
popular? Why did he want to see Jesus? What obstacles did he
overcome in order to do so?
2. What was Jesus' invitation to him? Why? Why did the townspeople
grumble? What does this tell us about Jesus? About the
townspeople? Read verse 8. How did Zacchaeus respond? Why was he
so ready to do this?
3. Read verses 9-10. Why did Jesus call him a son of Abraham? Why was
Jesus so joyful about Zacchaeus' repentance?
4. Why did Jesus tell this parable? (11) In the parable, what did the
man of noble birth do before leaving on his journey? (12-13) What
was the purpose of his journey? What did he mean by "Put this money
5. What did each servant report? How did the king reward some? Why?
Why did he call one servant wicked? How was he punished? What can
we learn here about God? What does Jesus expect of his waiting
There are two stories in this passage. The first is a story of the
holy Son of God and Zacchaeus the tax collector. The second is the
parable of the minas. Jesus teaches us the truth of God that we should
be fruitful and creative people who know how to put money to work.
First, Jesus welcomed Zacchaeus (1-5).
Each gospel tells many stories about Jesus on his way to Jerusalem.
All of these stories are sad, partly because many kinds of helpless
people, such as ten lepers, a man born blind, a man of ill-repute,
Zacchaeus, came to Jesus in defiance of the fact that Jesus was on the
way to Jerusalem to die on the cross as the Lamb of God. But they are
all most beautiful stories which move people's hearts down through the
generations. In the stories there is one story between Jesus and
Zacchaeus at Jericho. Verse 1 says, "Jesus entered Jericho and was
passing through." They say Jericho was very wealthy, situated in the
Jordan Valley and commanding both the approach to Jerusalem and the
crossings of the Jordan River, giving it access to palm forests and
balm groves. All this decorated the town with natural beauty and
combined to make it one of the greatest cultural centers, and also one
of the greatest centers of taxation in Palestine.
In Jericho, a man was there by the name of Zacchaeus, which meant
upright or outstanding. Probably his parents named him Zacchaeus in the
hope that he would be a great man in the sight of God. They must have
done their best for him, sparing nothing in order to raise him as an
upright person in the sight of God. But contrary to their wishes, he
became a despicable tax collector. Soon he was promoted to a chief tax
collector. Then he became wealthy; then a man of ill-repute. Was he
happy with his wealth? No, he was not happy because people called him a
public sinner. Man's desire for honor and recognition is indeed great.
Zacchaeus must have expected that his people would say of him, "He is
an upright person in the sight of God." To his surprise, people
whispered behind his back, "You tax collector!" a man of no national
identity. In addition, Zacchaeus was not accepted anywhere. Jews did
not recognize him as a fellow Jew, and Romans did not accept him as a
Roman, though he was a Roman puppet. He was living all by himself. What
was worse, when he hardened his heart and wanted to make money by any
available means, demons crept into him until he became a Jewish
But he found hope in Jesus. Look at verse 3a. "He wanted to see who
Jesus was..." What made him see Jesus? He had already heard about the
good news of Jesus, that he welcomed sinners and tax collectors and ate
with them. But there were several obstacles for him to overcome to
come to Jesus. First, his hindrance was the crowd of people. Zacchaeus
was too short compared with others. All the people were like football
players, and he was like "Kermit the frog." When Zacchaeus wanted to
come to Jesus, he was sunk into bigger people. Finally this small man
was nudged, fell down and was trodden over until his face was black and
blue with bruises. At that moment, he saw a sycamore-fig tree ahead of
him. That tree was a great inspiration to him. But his big stomach
hindered him from climbing up the tree. But where there is a will,
there is a way. After a few moments, he could see Jesus.
When Jesus arrived at the spot, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus
hanging in the sycamore-fig tree. Jesus said to him, "Zacchaeus, come
down immediately. I must stay at your house today" (5). Jesus welcomed
him as his own youngest son. We don't know how Jesus knew his name.
Anyway, Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately." Jesus knew that
no one associated with him. Jesus knew he was suffering from a sense of
dishonor. Jesus knew that he was as lonely as a widowed pigeon. As soon
as Jesus saw him, he welcomed him, saying, "Zacchaeus, come down
immediately." It was precisely Jesus' voice. But it was an invitation
of the holy God, and the moment of divine mercy to Zacchaeus.
Jesus also invited him. Jesus was willing to invite Zacchaeus. But
Jesus did not have his own house. So Jesus invited himself to
Zacchaeus' house. When Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus' house, he
was inviting Zacchaeus to talk with him about the secrets of the
glorious kingdom of God. Look at verse 6. "So he came down at once and
welcomed him gladly." He immediately came down from the tree. Probably
the seat of his pants was torn after being caught by a sharp point of a
cut branch on the tree. But it did not matter. What was the people's
response? People there began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of
a 'sinner'" (7b). Anyway, Jesus was going to Zacchaeus' house despite
people's deviltry and insult.
Second, Zacchaeus' repentance (8).
Though he looked like a man of no conscience, Zacchaeus had suffered
most from his guilty conscience. When the heavenly sunshine shone in
his heart through Jesus' one word, he came to the realization that he
was a selfish man. So he said in verse 8, "Look, Lord! Here and now I
give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody
out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Then Zacchaeus
would have nothing left for himself. But it didn't matter. He was
happy. His guilty conscience was gone and he was overwhelmed with
spiritual happiness. He had been a kind of mental patient due to his
selfishness. But when Zacchaeus met Jesus, he became a happy man. For
the first time, he cried many tears endlessly, partly because he was
happy to see Jesus, and partly because he realized how he had wronged
the helpless and the defenseless; how he had caused so many women to go
to hell. When he repented, his humanity was fully rehabilitated, and
the image of God in him was fully restored.
Third, Jesus accepted him as a son of Abraham (9,10).
Look at verse 9. "Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to
this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.'" When he saw
that Zacchaeus had repented, Jesus was happy. In the past, Zacchaeus
was branded as a tax collector and as one who betrayed his suffering
people. People looked down on him as a traitor of his poor people. But
Jesus forgave all his sins. Not only so, Jesus also highly exalted him,
saying, "This man too is a son of Abraham." At that time, to be a son
of Abraham, one of the chosen people, was indeed great to the people of
Israel. Zacchaeus was branded a public sinner. But Jesus reinstated
him as a chosen Jew. Though the world abandoned him, Jesus recognized
him. Zacchaeus was now a heavenly prince. Zacchaeus was now an heir of
the kingdom of God. Jesus' joy was great to see Zacchaeus' change and
restoration to his sonship. In the past he was a heavy burden to his
household and his people. But now he was a blessing to all people. So
Jesus said, "Salvation has come to this house." Look at verse 10, "For
the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Zacchaeus'
coming to Jesus brought forth such a great result.
Fourth, put this money to work (11-17).
Zacchaeus knew he was smart. Even if he was a smart man, he became a
social outcast. So in this part, Jesus tells how to use our abilities
for our King Jesus. Now Jesus was near Jerusalem. The people thought
that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once (11). The people of
Jesus' time were mostly fortune-seeking people due to their false
hope. Most of them went secretly to magicians to hear something
fantastic, such as becoming a rich man, or going to heaven without
spiritual struggle. Of course, the hope of the Messiah had enabled the
Jews to endure all kinds of hardships and sufferings. But the Messiah
they had expected was not the one based on Bible prophecies, but a
political messiah who could satisfy their fortune-seeking desires (1Co
1:22-23a). How about the disciples? They should have learned the deep
meaning of his suffering, death and resurrection. But because of their
sinful desires, their spiritual eyes were blind. They could not see
God's plan of world salvation. They could not see God's love for all
Look at verse 12. "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to
have himself appointed king and then to return." Here, "a man of noble
birth" refers to Jesus; his going to a distant country, to his
ascension and his second coming. He went back to the heavenly kingdom
so that he might come back to this world as King and Judge. Verse 13
says, "So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put
this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'" Here, "his
servants" refers to his people. One mina is about three months' wages.
He gave his servants the money and said, "Put this money to work." How
nice it would have been if he had said, "Use the money properly."
"Mina" can be compared to many different gifts, such as man's life
itself, freedom of choice, talents, intellect, inspiration,
imagination, the hard-working spirit, leadership, courage, humbleness,
and so on. Man's life is definitely limited within a certain period.
The life in a man is abundant and unlimited. The potentiality in man is
limitless in its scope.
Man's joy comes when he works hard to make his life fruitful (Jn
15:11). Therefore, each person is obliged to God to bear fruit 30
times, 60 times or 100 times. Life is comparable to money. Those who
put their lives to work for the glory of God will have victorious lives
(2Ti 4:7). What does it mean when Jesus said, "Put this money to
work"? "Put this money to work" means "Work hard and gain some profit
without fail." Our King Jesus does not want us to remain fruitless. He
wants us to make things work out by devotion to the things he gave us.
It's possible for anyone who has heart. There is a saying, "Where
there's a will, there's a way." For those who take the King's words
absolutely, nothing is impossible. "But his subjects hated him and sent
a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king'"
(14). His subjects hated the kingship of Jesus. Look at verse 15a. "He
was made king, however, and returned home." Supposedly, people did not
want him to be their king because he was not a permanent based king,
but a temporal based king. But in reality, they did not like him
because he comes again to make them give an account. Whether we want it
to happen or not, Jesus will come again. When he comes again, he will
ask each person to give an account (2 Co 5:10). Let's see what would
happen when accountability was going on.
Look at verses 16,17. "The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina
has earned ten more.'" This servant took his master at his word
absolutely, put the money to work and earned a profit. What was his
reward? "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied." This was
his reward. The Master's recognition, "Well done, my good servant!" is
the best reward all mankind should aspire for. The people of God don't
want the recognition of people, who are the same sinners with us. Our
Master's reward is very special. What is it? It is more work. Look at
verse 17b. "Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter,
take charge of ten cities." It meant, "You must work for me ten times
more." What a reward! "The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has
earned five more.' His master answered, 'You take charge of five
cities'" (18,19). The master gave the second servant the same reward as
the first and assigned him five times more work to do as his reward.
"Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have
kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you
are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you
did not sow'" (20,21). In short, he was too smart but lazy to put the
money to work. "His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own
words, you wicked servant!'" (22) The master rebuked his laziness of
not putting his mina to work (22-24). The master said in verse 24b,
"Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas."
The master's decision seemed too hard. So those standing there said,
"He already has ten!" From a worldly point of view, the man who kept
his original capital of one mina was a fairly good person, wasn't he?
But to God he was a lazy person. God treats lazy people as the enemies
of God. God does not forgive their laziness. Verse 27 says, "But those
enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them
here and kill them in front of me."
In this passage we learn that we must live a victorious and fruitful
life by being stewards of God's children.