This passage comes in the middle of a parable (Luke 19:11-27). Jesus is telling a story about Himself - as a king who entrusted his servants with money to do business on his account, while he was away. The king returned (as Jesus will one day) and called his servants to account.
Two made an excellent profit but the man in today's reading had nothing to show. He had neither invested nor traded. His excuse was fear of the king, and fear of his own inability to meet what he saw as unrealistic expectations. But really, his attitude was of indifference to the king's command and an unwillingness to obey him. He so despised the instruction and the opportunity to be a part of building the kingdom that he did not even put the money on deposit at the bank.
Maybe he did not even believe that the king would return; or, if so, there would be no audit. But there was! The excuses made no difference; he was judged out of his own mouth (Romans 14:12) and he was stripped of the privilege that could have been his, of being a regional or city governor. The root of his attitude was unbelief which was demonstrated in disobedience and expressed in lies.
When Jesus returns, He will find many like that. They will all have a story to tell, but none will be able to withstand the judgement on them. Covered in shame with their opportunity gone, they will not have any place of dignity in Christ's kingdom. Looking around at many nice, successful, smooth-talking people, or hardworking caring family folk - it is sometimes difficult to imagine that their encounter with Jesus will be like that. He will not measure bank balances, social status, charity work or anything else which makes us feel good about ourselves. Jesus will evaluate our obedience to His gospel, our labours for His kingdom and glory, our faith despite trials, our endurance despite fear and our courage in representing our King in front of a wicked and rebellious world. That is the life of faith, practised at work and at home which places the commands of King Jesus above all other authority. So, as Colossians 3:17 says, "… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
© Dr Paul Adams