A second question presents itself then. Where is the reader meant to find space in this story? Who is our example? I would argue that it is certainly not the first nor the second servant who most closely model their behaviour on the attitude and behaviour of the king. So maybe it’s the third servant.
But what did he do that is worthy of emulation? His was behaviour motivated primarily by fear. And in his fear he did nothing and said nothing until confronted by the king. As I write this, the movie industry is being convulsed by the scandal around Harvey Weinstein. There are suggestions that his alleged bullying and abusive behaviour was well known in Hollywood circles, but such was his power that no-one said anything and the women who suffered were forced to suffer in silence.
But this is just the latest example where oppressive behaviour is endured silently by those who suffer because those who can say something stay quiet. If the third servant’s assessment of the king is accurate then his silence is not to be admired or copied, rather his cowardliness is to be pitied or criticised.
Or maybe he is as much a victim of bullying as others were in the country.
Incidentally, I find myself wondering about the fate of the other seven servants who appeared in Luk 19:13 but then disappear from the story. Did they form part of the delegation of protest? Did they refuse the task given them by the king? Did they give away their minas to those in the kingdom who were poor, maybe even oppressed by the first two servants who were making big sums of money in ways that did not involve putting it in the bank? And were they thereby resisting the attitudes implicit in the new law of Luk 19:26? Were they part of the first group of political executions in Luk 19:27?
The third servant stayed quiet when he should have spoken out. He had first hand experience of the values of this powerful man, living with him as a valued servant (after all he was chosen as one of ten to be trusted with money).
And I find myself wondering how many times I have stayed silent when I should have spoken. I find myself thinking of those who have suffered because I lacked the moral courage to speak out against wrong and injustice. I think about the Church in all its forms and how we have favoured being on the inside rather than standing with those on the outside and exposing oppressive behaviours. Or worse, where we have sided with the forces of injustice and oppression to preserve power and position.
The third servant is not one to be mimicked.
And so the question remains, where do I fit in this parable?