Ever had a run in with a monkey?
Not too long ago, my husband and I traveled with friends to Bali, Indonesia to escape the cold and enjoy the sun! After a few days of rest and relaxation, we decided it was time to see the sites, so we hired a guide to take us to one of Bali’s most historic spots.
As we neared our destination, our guide shared with us some of what we could expect. He said there would be a very long walk, about a half hour uphill and then a half hour down. He told us that the view of the Indian Ocean was amazing on the path and he shared with us the cultural events that are held at this place. He went on and on, speaking about the history and the beauty, but as we neared the path, his tone changed. He held up his finger as if pointing out a warning.
Our guide began to speak in a more serious tone, and looking at us, he said, ‘There are monkeys ahead. Watch out for the monkeys. The monkeys will take your earrings. They will take your sunglasses, your hats and your shoes. You should take these off, put them in your bag and keep your bag very close to you. Beware of the monkeys.’
It’s hard to really believe it when you hear something like that. When you hear that there are monkeys at your destination who will take the glasses off your face, monkeys who will take the shoes off of your feet, monkeys who will actually jump up and take your earrings right out of your ears, you tend to be a little skeptical, but strange as it sounded, I decided to heed the warning. My earrings, sunglasses and all other loose items went into my bag, and I held it very close to my side.
We began walking on the path into the trees and I saw no monkeys. I started to feel safe and let my guard down, but it was then that I noticed something on the ground. A man’s hat, torn up and left discarded as if trash, was in the grass. My eyes quickly began to focus on other articles of clothing torn up and thrown in the grass. Sunglasses and prescription glasses with their lenses broken and arms mangled were strewn about. Broken bags and torn up shoes were littered along the path as we walked by…and then I saw them.
When I lifted my eyes up from the debris, I saw the culprits. Monkeys. Cute, adorable monkeys. Everywhere. There were monkeys in the trees, swinging from branches, running in the grass and running on the path. While I watched in shock at what was going on around me, I felt something jump onto my back! As I started to panic, a monkey’s hand came around my side, attempting to get into my bag! I let out a scream and the monkey ran off, empty handed. I had been given a warning. I heeded the warning and because I did, there was nothing for the monkey to steal. The warning had protected me from losing what was mine…to a monkey.
In Luke 19, Jesus was with His disciples on His way to Jerusalem. If we look at the timeline, it was close to Passover and Jesus was literally walking the path that would lead to the cross. He was surrounded by a crowd of followers watching His every move. They had great plans for Jesus to build an earthly kingdom so they could experience physical freedom, but Jesus had another plan.
As they walked, Jesus saw a man, Zacchaeus, a tax collector, watching from a tree. Jesus called Zacchaeus down, went into his house, shared the Truth, and the tax collector came out changed. To the crowd, this probably seemed like a waste of time. They had an agenda, they had a kingdom to build. They were following Jesus to build their kingdom, but Jesus stopped to reach the one…because Jesus was building The Kingdom of God.
Jesus knew what the crowd was thinking, so He stopped to tell the crowd a story. Really, Jesus stopped to give the crowd a warning.
He told them about a master who was going away to take a kingdom. Before he left, the master entrusted his servants each with a large sum of money. In verse 13, the master told the servants, “While I am away, use this money to ‘occupy until I come’.” The word for occupy means ‘do business as’. In other words, the master was saying ‘While I am away, take what you have been given and do business as I would have done. Grow the kingdom the way you saw me do it.’
Two servants heeded the warning. They took what the master had given and did what the master had done. They invested what they had, just like they had seen the master do, and because of that the master’s kingdom grew. But one servant did not. He foolishly wrapped the money in a cloth, somewhat like a handkerchief. He decided on his own what to do with what he had been given and did not do business as the master had done. He had his own agenda on how the kingdom should grow. When the master returned, this servant lost it all.
Jesus was giving the crowd a warning.
Like the master, Jesus was going away and there was a Kingdom to build.
Like the master, Jesus had given the people something of great value, the Truth of the Gospel; and like the master, Jesus had told them to use it to grow the Kingdom.
But like the foolish servant, the people had their own agenda, their own plan to build a kingdom. Jesus knew that this kind of building would bring a kingdom that would fall, so He didn’t just tell them how to build the Kingdom. He showed them how it’s done.
The crowd had seen Jesus with Zacchaeus. They had watched as Jesus approached a man with a need and met him where he was. They had seen Jesus go into Zacchaeus’s house and share the Truth and that same day, they saw the tax collector come away changed.
Jesus was saying, ‘If you are going to build the Kingdom, do it the way you saw me build the Kingdom, the way it was always intended to grow. One heart at a time.
The Master is still building His Kingdom today and He has entrusted us, His servants, with the Truth of the Gospel. We can work to build a kingdom according to our own agenda and we will lose it all. Or we can heed the warning. We can build His Kingdom the way that we have seen the Master build and what we build will stand! Jesus is still building His Kingdom. One heart at a time.
What are we doing with the Gospel? What are we doing with what has been entrusted to us? Are we wrapped up in the ways of the world, building a kingdom that will fall? Or are we serving the Master, looking for the one, occupying like Jesus, sharing the Gospel one heart at a time?
As we came to the end of the path in Bali that day, an announcement could be heard through the trees. A cry went out from a loudspeaker on a stand: ‘Warning: Beware of the monkeys. The monkeys will take what belongs to you. Warning: Beware of the monkeys.’
Really? A warning…at the end of the road? How much had been lost along the way because the warning had not been heard or heeded at the beginning.
I left the path in Bail that day with everything I had brought in, and maybe a little bit more. I had learned the wisdom and benefit of heeding a warning…even a warning about something as cute as a monkey.
‘Lord, may we heed Your warning and steward the Gospel well as your servants, building Your Kingdom here on this earth until You come again. One heart at a time.’
“Guard the treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” 2 Timothy 1:14