7 November 2007Luke 19:11-27
"I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." (v.26)
Most biblical scholars think that Luke here has turned two
stories into one. One story concerns a nobleman who left his
territory to receive even greater authority. On his return he took
revenge on those who had opposed him.
The other story is about some slaves who were each given a sum of money and told to do business with them during their master's absence. On his return he found that two of them had made substantial profits and they were duly rewarded. The third slave, who had merely kept the money safe was not rewarded but, on the contrary, deprived of what he had. (Matthew's Gospel has this story as the Parable of the Talents - Matthew 25:14-30)
There are clues in this passage to tell us that this story was not intended to be about something which might actually happen (for example, the slave who is put in charge of ten cities is then given an extra pound and the bystanders express surprise). Rather, it is told in an exaggerated manner in order to make a point strongly.
Jesus is not talking here about economics or social policy! The point of the story is about the need to take risks and the rewards of doing so. Jesus and the disciples are getting close to Jerusalem where he will be crucified. On the journey, Jesus gave his followers a lot of teaching about what it might mean to live in God's way. What were they going to do with what they had received from him? Would they keep it to themselves or put it to work?
Successful business people always have to take some risks. This story suggests that successful sharing of the mission of Jesus requires the same qualities.
If the task of the Christian Church is to continue the mission of Jesus, what risks might this involve?
How might continuing the mission of Jesus today pose a threat to powerful and influential people or institutions?