Jesus is approaching Jerusalem and the crowds are expecting a change. They think “the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” They are ready to be liberated from the Romans. Jesus tells them this story to calm their expectations.
A nobleman goes on a trip to be declared the official king and then he would return. Before leaving he calls servants and gives them money to run things while he is gone. Other people from this kingdom let this nobleman know they do not want him to rule them. Some are entrusted with responsibility while others refuse the nobleman’s leadership!
When the nobleman, now king, returns he calls in the servants. One has multiplied his money ten times one has multiplied his five times, and then there is one afraid of the master who has hid his money. The nobleman, king, praises those who increased their trust and the one who hid his goods had to give his up to the richest. The rebels are also to be collected and executed. Wow, this is harsh.
I remember my father teaching me that “it takes money to make money.” I was not to be afraid of debt as long as I had a plan in place for paying. Doing nothing is not a good plan nor is being paralyzed by fear. But this story is not advice from my father but is told by Jesus headed to Jerusalem. So what is the take-away?
I first see partnership. The nobleman does not zap his kingdom with success by his decree but works with servants who are given means to work with and treated with respect. We are not puppets or drones. We are his representatives. We have agency and are entrusted.
Agency also includes attitude. A good, healthy relationship does not grow when there is rebellion and resistance. The people who do not want him as ruler are not made to live and work under him. The scared or lazy fellow likewise does not reap benefits. I think we say, ignorance of the law is no excuse. He is not punished for failure but for not even trying. Can I say that again? The last man is not punished for failure. I think that is significant.
We watch the news about destruction and injustice around the world and wonder if now would not be a good time for the king to return and set things right but we don’t know his timing. So then the question becomes are we a responsible partner trying our best or are we making God into some bad guy and hiding from him. Ultimately, the rewards result from good relationship with the king and not from rebellion and hiding. So, let us bow our head today as we head into Holy Week next week and thank God for the privilege of working with him and thank him for not holding our failures against us. He is returning and will make life right. There is even a hint that we will be rewarded, at least appreciated, for our honest efforts. He cares!