Lord of all

Jesus’ death and resurrection completed the necessary requirements for him to be appointed judge of all mankind. Paul stated in his letter to the Romans, “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9). Another way of stating “the dead and the living” would be the unsaved and the saved. Paul was referring to people that have not accepted Jesus as their savior as well those that have. The reason why Paul made this distinction was so that the Romans would understand that everyone falls under the same criteria of judgment. Jesus as the executor of God’s plan of salvation has been given the authority to determine what the will of God is when it comes to acts of faith. Paul emphasized this point when he declared, “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

In addition to the free gift of salvation, there are additional benefits that believers may receive as a result of their acts of faith. Speaking of the foundation he had laid by preaching the gospel, Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Paul basically told the Romans believers to mind their own business when he stated, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10, NKJV).

Unbelievers that think they can escape God’s judgment by denying Jesus’ lordship over their lives might be surprised to find out that they will be held accountable for their acts of unbelief. Paul told the Romans, “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:11-12). The Greek word Paul used that is translated confess, exomologeo (ex-om-ol-og-eh’-o) has to do with the public acknowledgment or confession of sins (G1843). When Paul stated that every one shall give an account of himself, he was talking about a verbal assent to the lordship of Jesus Christ, an acknowledgment that he died for everyone’s sins and his substitutionary death on the cross was rejected by unbelievers. In other words, unbelievers will eventually have to admit that they were wrong, lacking in faith by not acknowledging Jesus as their savior.

Expectations

As Jesus approached Jerusalem, he took some time to prepare his disciples for his departure “because they thought that the kingdom of God should appear immediately” (19:11). The Jews expected their “Messiah to appear in power and glory and to set up His earthly kingdom, defeating all their political and military enemies” (note on Luke 19:11). In spite of his repeated warnings, some of Jesus’ followers still didn’t realize he was about to be crucified. Rather than stating the truth plainly, Jesus once again used a parable to explain what was going to happen. He told them, “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” (Luke 19:12-13). Jesus’ description of heaven as a “far country” suggested that he would be away for a long period of time. The fact that he would eventually return meant that there would be some type of continuation or follow up to his earthly ministry. In other words, Jesus’ resurrection was not the conclusion of his work on Earth. The ten servants were most likely representative of all who would serve Christ as ministers of the gospel until Jesus’ second coming, but this may have been a direct reference to the Jewish believers that would be given the responsibility of establishing Christianity among the Jews in Jerusalem.

In his parable, Jesus said the nobleman gave each of his ten servants a pound of silver and told them to “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13). The Greek term translated occupy, pragmateuomai (prag-mat-yoo´-om-ahee) means “to busy oneself with that is to trade” (G4231), the implication being that the king’s servants were to be involved in business matters, making a living for themselves and earning a profit for their master. Although it may seem unusual for God’s work to be likened to a profitable business, Jesus was clearly telling his disciples that he expected them to be doing something while he was gone. Jesus went on to say, “And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received his 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” (Luke 19:15). This part of Jesus’ parable could be a reference to the rapture, a moment in time that the Apostle Paul referred to as the sudden coming of the Lord, of which he said, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Sometime following this, there will be an event referred to as the judgment seat of Christ. At that time, Christians will be held accountable for their actions while they were alive on Earth (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10).

In his parable of the pounds, Jesus gave examples of the type of rewards Christians can expect to receive at the judgment seat of Christ. He said, “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” (Luke 19:16-17). The faithful servant’s reward was described as “authority over ten cities.” The ten cities most likely represented a spiritual jurisdiction equivalent to what we might think of today in the United States as a voting district. Even though Jesus will not be an elected official when he reigns on Earth, he will have a political system that he will use to govern the world. The purpose of the servant’s delegated authority might be to enforce spiritual laws that were identified and/or established during Jesus’ ministry e.g. “These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:17). Although Christians will not receive punishment at the judgment seat of Christ, Jesus indicated there would be negative consequences for failing to produce revenue for his kingdom. He said, “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 are an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow…And he said to them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds” (Luke 19:20-24).

Even though it wasn’t specifically stated, it could be assumed that by taking away of the wicked servant’s pound, the master was removing him from his position. This doesn’t mean that Christians can lose their salvation, but it does suggest that our position in God’s kingdom is dependent upon our obedience. The reason Jesus used money to represent the resources his disciples received from him may have been because he wanted them to realize that their spiritual gifts were valuable and he expected them to be used frequently to do his work. While he was in prison, Paul identified various motivations for preaching the gospel and said, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will” (Philippians 1:15). Paul went on to say, “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:18-21). In other words, Paul expected to be judged not just by Christ, but by Christ’s example, and he didn’t want to be ashamed when he was asked to account for the result of ministry.