Lenten Bible Study – Day 37

Thursday, April 1, 2021- Day 37
Luke 19: 12-27
12So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. 13He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ 14But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ 15When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. 16The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ 17He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ 18Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ 19He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’ 20Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, 21for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ 24He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ 25(And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) 26‘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. 27But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’”
This is a parable spoken by Jesus the day before he rides into Jerusalem. It is an illustration to explain what he is about to do. You need to know that for the parable to make any sense.
But you also need to know a bit of Judean history. When Herod the Great (the Herod from the Jesus birth stories) died, he had two sons, Archelaus and Antipas. Both wanted the throne. Archelaus, to get the throne, was required to go to Rome and be appointed. When he left, a delegation of Judeans and Samarians followed to oppose him. He was successful and … well … the delegation was not. One can assume things did not go well with them on their return to Jerusalem. This was history known to the folks listening to Jesus. Jesus said that this was a bit like what was going on right in front of them. Jesus was talking about God returning to the people.
God had not gone off to a distant country, though. The Judeans had done that. That happened when they were exiled and the original Temple, the residence of God, had been destroyed. Now God was returning. Jesus was his incarnation. And now the king was going to ask what his loyal followers have been doing with what he had left them. Some had done well. Some had done not quite as well, but pretty well nonetheless. Others had done nothing. The returning king was going to redistribute the authority among his people so that the ones who were good at it got more and the ones who were less good at it got less, and those that did nothing, got authority over nothing. Kind of makes sense. There is no punishment, just authority redistributed in accordance with gifts.
But there was more. What about those who did not want God to be in charge? They were punished. They did not want God. They did not get God. The kingdom was not theirs.
There are those in the Christian community who believe that if we have enough faith, we will be rewarded with riches and wellbeing. This parable seems to say otherwise. In this parable Jesus seems to say that our reward is based on what we do to serve God. What we do to carry out God’s will. It is all in the doing in this parable.
We should all consider what we are doing for God this Lent. But not just quantity; quality. What gifts do we have that we are exercising to increase the recognition of God’s presence in the world? What do we do well that contributes to God’s kingdom? Worth some thought.
Dear God, you know that we want you to be our king. We also want to be good stewards of the gifts you have given us and to use them for the benefit of your kingdom. Help us to know what we do well and what you would have us do. AMEN