(This parable is one of the most enigmatic parables of Jesus. Personally, I found it difficult to grasp the meaning of it. So, I depend heavily on the explanations of Rev. Fr. Lucian Legrand, a great scripture scholar and my Professor.
Note: this parable is not to be confused with the parables of the Talents in Mt. 25)
Jesus tells this parable to warn us about the upcoming events. He told the parable because the disciples and others who were journeying with Him to Jerusalem had the wrong notion that He would institute the kingdom of God immediately. They didn’t realize that He would suffer and die, be raised again, ascend into heaven, and that many years would go by before He returned to establish His kingdom. Jesus wanted to let His hearers know what they were supposed to be doing in His absence. They were not supposed to sit around waiting for Him to return. Rather, they were to be actively doing business for Him with what He entrusted to them. The day will certainly come when He will return. At that time, each servant must give an account for what he has done. The king was probably not examining the amount of money entrusted to the servants, but rather the amount of loyalty expected of them.
Because we all will give an account, we must faithfully do business with what the Master has given us until He returns.
There was a commonly known historical parallel to this story. Both Herod the Great and his son Archelaus had journeyed to Rome to receive the kingdom of Judea from Caesar. In the case of Archelaus, the people of Judea hated him and sent a delegation after him to Rome to tell Caesar that they did not want this man to rule over them. Augustus compromised by allowing Archelaus to rule, but only with the title ethnarch, on the premise that he would have to earn the title king, which he never did. Archelaus had built a beautiful palace for himself in Jericho, where Jesus was speaking.
In the case of Jesus’ parable, He is the nobleman who goes to a distant country to receive the kingdom. He is referring to His departure into heaven after His death and resurrection, where He would sit at the Father’s right hand until He made His enemies His footstool. During His time away, He entrusts to each servant a mina, which was about four month’s wages. Each servant gets the same amount.
The fact that each of ten servants received a mina shows that it God’s servants in general who have been given these coins. Thus the parable is not directed just to those in leadership, but to all of Christ’s subjects. The fact that each was given the same amount shows that it is not referring to differing gifts, but to something that all followers of Christ share in common, namely, the Word of God and in particular, the central message of that Word, the gospel. We all have been given the same gospel and we are told to do business with it for our King during His absence.