Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19 (NLT)

Whenever we read a parable that Jesus shares, we should be thinking at least three things:

  1. Who was He talking to?
  2. Who was He talking about?
  3. What did He want us to understand?

Starting with Luke 19:12, we read a parable that Jesus shares with a crowd as He travels to Jerusalem.

In the King James Version, He begins by saying, “…A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.”

Before I go on, I want to pause to explain the “who” and “what” of this parable so far. The nobleman is a symbol of Jesus, and the far away country is our present world. The kingdom is representative of gaining Lordship over earth and its people, and the nobleman’s return is representative of Jesus later returning to earth to receive His people.

In short this implies that Jesus left heaven and came to earth where He was given authority by God to rule and give instructions to His people on how and what to do until His final return.

The parable goes on to explain that the nobleman had to leave for a while, but before he left, he gave ten servants ten pounds of silver. To each he shared the same set of instructions, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13 KJV).

Other translations say, “Engage in business until I come” (ESV), or “Invest this for me while I am gone” (NLT). No matter which translation we read, the principle meaning is the same: do well with what I have given you until I come back. It’s an instruction and an entrustment given to each of the servants. They were each given an opportunity to please the master upon his return.

This is true for us as followers of Jesus too. We have all been given the same instructions. We are the servants in the parable.

Another set of similar instructions were given through Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) where He tells the disciples to “…go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I commanded you.” We are them in that passage of scripture. But don’t miss the message hidden in the text! The words He spoke in Matthew were also a command for both the early disciples and modern-day disciples.

For many of us, our present-day practice of occupying might be better described as busyness. I’ve noticed this in my own life and ministry. This is why I’ve taken the time to pause and ponder, What is the difference between busyness and occupying?

At first glance, they seem very similar, especially since one of the definitions for the word busy has the word occupied within it. Yet, an understanding of the unique differences can help us determine if we are accomplishing God’s good work or simply trying to accomplish “A” good work.

I’ve come to think of these terms in this way:

Busyness is being occupied with anything. It’s movement for the sake of accomplishing our own goals.

Idle is being occupied with nothing. It’s not moving toward a goal at all.

Stewardship is being occupied with the right thing. It’s movement for the sake of accomplishing God’s eternal goals.

In part 3, we will dive deeper into the parable and how it correlates with our present day and even Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus. Today, consider how have you been living out the command given in Matthew 28:19-20?