What does this analogy given by Jesus mean?
Prior to this analogy, the Gospels of Jesus states:
As they were listening to this, Jesus continued by telling them an analogy – because he was nearing Jerusalem and they assumed the sanctuary of God was going to suddenly appear. (Luke 19:11)The reason the word "analogy" is used rather than "parable" is that this is the most appropriate translation of the Greek word παραβολή (parabolē). A "parable" in modern English is a meaningful tale, while an analogy is used to explain something by comparing it to something else. This was the purpose of Jesus' story.
Jesus is not telling funny stories to entertain his students. He is trying to teach his students about God by using analogies.
With this in mind, Luke 19:11 gives us a hint at the meaning of Jesus' analogy. What was Jesus trying to explain to them?
Who is the nobleman?
The analogy discusses "a nobleman" who "traveled to a distant country." This is analogous to Jesus, as he traveled from the spiritual realm to the physical world. The position of king is analogous to being a spiritual teacher. Jesus came to the physical world and became a spiritual teacher. He came to bring us the teachings of God:
“My teaching is not mine, but comes from He who sent me." (John 7:16)The instruction the king gave to his subjects - "Carry on business with this until I return" - is analogous to the situation of Jesus' disciples. Jesus instructed to apply Jesus' teachings to their lives, and then to pass on those teachings to others:
"Therefore, go and make followers of all peoples – baptizing them in the Name of the Creator, and of the Representative and of the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 28:19)As to Jesus' return - we've discussed this with other verses. Jesus isn't talking about returning some thousands of years later as sectarian teachers profess. This would be too late for these disciples anyway. The return - as Jesus explains elsewhere - relates to their time of death - when Jesus would return to escort his disciples back to the spiritual realm.
As for the nobleman's subjects' sending the "delegation" to tell him, "We don’t want this man to govern us," Jesus is discussing his rejection by the chief priests and their followers, who ended up arresting and inciting Jesus' persecution.
In this analogy, the nobleman is giving his servants "minas," which is basically a bag of money - generally considered to be one pound of money – equal to 300 shekels. Jesus uses minas to symbolize his teachings - which gave his students spiritual wealth.
Why they ended up with different amounts
This is why they ended up having different amounts - because different disciples or students receive more spiritual wealth than others from Jesus' teachings. Some simply absorb and understand more from his teachings than others.
Then there is the return of the nobleman - analogous to the time of death of each of Jesus' students. Those who used their minas to gain more are analogous to those who applied and utilized Jesus' teachings in their lives, and then went out and taught them to others as they could - thereby gaining "interest" on their minas.
Then the reward given to each of the servants by the nobleman is analogous to the treasures Jesus' students would gain in their spiritual lives. The more they commit their life to the teachings of Jesus, the greater their reward.
This is not to be confused with material goodies or authority. While Jesus uses the analogy of being in charge of cities - this is not about having material authority over others. Jesus is speaking of spiritual responsibility. The more dedicated a person becomes to the Supreme Being, the greater spiritual responsibility they will be given to serve God in greater capacities.
This is also stated by Jesus elsewhere, as Jesus speaks of his return to the spiritual realm:
"Because the Servant of Humanity will return to the majesty of his LORD and His angels - and every person will then be rewarded according to their actions." (Matt. 16:27)This also relates to those who did not do anything with their minas in Jesus' analogy. Those students and disciples who received Jesus' teachings and did not apply them did not gain anything. They failed to redevelop their loving service relationships with the Supreme Being - or even pass those teachings on to others. They did not utilize his teachings. They received them yet did not apply them. Thus there was nothing gained.
The nobleman's taking the minas away from those who did not utilize what was given to them is analogous to removing one's access to Jesus' loving relationship with God. One may initially be given access to this relationship through his teachings, but if one does not apply these teachings to one's life and thus reciprocate that relationship, then the access can be taken away.
This is the meaning of the nobleman's taking away what one has if he "doesn't have." The phrase "doesn't have" means not applying Jesus' teachings about loving and serving the Supreme Being. By not applying this to one's life, one loses the opportunity:
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘master, master,’ shall enter into the sanctuary of the spiritual realm – only one who does what pleases my LORD in the spiritual realm. Many will say to me at that time, ‘Master, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles? And I will say to them, ‘I never knew you: Get away from me, you who practice wickedness.’" (Matt. 7:21)
The real follower of Jesus
Such a person, who might have been interested in spiritual life initially, will become lost within the darkness of self-centeredness and greed if they don't apply Jesus' teachings to their lives. One might claim to be Jesus' follower, and even claim to do miracles. But if we don't become loving servants of God, we will become lost within the phantasmagoria of the material world - thinking the forms and names of this temporary world - inclusive of the temporary physical body - will make us happy. This is a recipe for disaster, because none of the things of the physical world bring happiness or fulfillment.
Only love and loving service to the Supreme Being bring true happiness and fulfillment to the spirit-person. Everything else brings darkness.
Being lost in the darkness of material existence is also the result of those who reject Jesus' teachings. This is explained in Jesus' analogy as those subjects who rejected Jesus. At the end, it states that the nobleman sentenced them to death - this is analogous to spiritual death.
Of course, the "slaying" is speaking of their spiritual lives - their ability to regain their home in the spiritual realm. By rejecting and offending the Representative of God, one automatically loses their spiritual life.
So why in front of him? Does Jesus enjoy seeing others' lives being lost? The reason for the nobleman instructing that they be slayed in front of him - this is analogous to the fact that Jesus never gives up on us. The only reason for them to be permitted to gain additional access to him would be to give them another chance.
This is Jesus' perpetual offer to those of us who are lost within the physical world. We are lost without our loving relationship with God. And even though we may have rejected what Jesus taught in terms of applying them to our lives, he still offers us the chance to embrace those teachings and apply them to our lives. Such a change of heart was what Jesus was looking for from his teachings:
“It isn’t the healthy who need a physician – but those who are sick. I haven’t come to call the devoted: But rather, sinners to a change of heart.” (Luke 5:31-32)