In Luke 19, Jesus tells a parable that goes something like this:
A nobleman was going on a long journey, and before he went away, he called his slaves and gave them each an amount of money, telling them to “do business with this until I come back.” Upon his return, he finds that two of his servants were faithful to invest his money and made a return on their investments. So, being faithful “in a very little thing,” they were given authority over several cities. But the third servant, being afraid of the master and of losing the money, hid the money in a handkerchief and made no profit. And so the master took away the money he had given this “worthless slave” and gave it to the ones who had made a return. And he said, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”
Interestingly, Luke says that just after meeting Zacchaeus, Jesus told this parable for a specific reason. It was “because He was nearing Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.”
Then, directly after this, as Jesus rode up to Jerusalem, He was weeping over it because they “did not recognize the time of their visitation.”
What was it that the people were not recognizing? What was it that they mistakenly assumed about the kingdom of God that this parable was meant to correct?
When we look at other passages in Luke, the other gospels, and the story of Israelites as a whole, it becomes clear that the Jews were looking for a Messiah that would save their nation from the oppression of the Romans. This was the kind of salvation they assumed was most necessary, that God was most interested in. For them, the kingdom of God was supposed to be an earthly kingdom; right then and there; visible, physical, political. But, “the kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst,” Jesus had told them (Luke 17:20-21). Soon after, He went on to be killed by the Jews AND the Romans.
Yet this was what the kingdom of God in their midst was doing; Risking; Giving; Dying, but then Resurrecting; Paying a cost but then gaining a return far more valuable. In a word: Investing.
Sometimes we are so easily distracted by the things of this world – very real and important things, to be sure… but they often take precedence in our minds and hearts so much so that we begin to confuse earthly kingdoms with the kingdom of God. But let’s not miss the fact that the kingdom of God is in our midst! God’s kingdom is in no way dependent on the rise and fall of any earthly kingdom. His kingdom is indestructible, always active, always victorious, and what the King is looking for is productivity in our lives.
Are we seeing the opportunities that are right in front of us? Are we investing what He has already given us (and He has given us a lot), eyes open to every opportunity? Are we being like Zacchaeus, who was letting the kingdom of God take root in his own heart, which reaped an increase of blessing for others as he “paid back what he had stolen ten times”? Are we only looking for a Messiah to save us from the evils of the world we live in, or are we recognizing that He is already among us, here to save us daily from our own sin, and in so doing begin to change the world through us?
The kingdom of God is in our midst… right now! In Christ, who lives in you and in me. Let’s not miss the times of His “visitation” in our own lives. Keep investing what He has given you to invest, and there will be an increase to enjoy. That’s a promise!
By: Kevin Galbraith