Digging in for the Long Haul: Luke 19, The Parable of the Minas IV

Some Conclusions

So what am I left with after all this? Well a couple of things occur to me as worthy of comment.

Firstly, contrary to what I was told in my youth, Jesus return may not be imminent. Yes I know that I’m in danger of being counted among the foolish virgins, or being caught out by the thief in the night, but how else am I to understand Jesus concerns over the people’s excitement at his potential early enthronement? There is undoubtedly a tension here that must be lived in and I must struggle to balance it.

The reason I must continue to struggle with this tension is that to focus too heavily on his imminent return is to devalue this life. What drives the action of the parable is what is not said. We are told little or nothing about what happens in the interim period between the nobleman’s exit and his return as King, but the behaviour of the servants int his period is what determines the outcomes.

Of necessity therefore I am forced to conclude that life and living in this interim period is of the utmost importance. Those of us from the more conservative stable have perhaps focussed too much on getting to the hereafter to the detriment of life in the here and now. The parable forces me to reconsider. This life, its politics, and work, and music and neighbours and shops and sport and pain and everything is of eternal value to God. There is a continuity between this life and the life to come. It is the third servant who tries to shrug off engagement with life in the interim period and he is judged accordingly.

Lest those from the liberal wing of the church get too smug, I can’t escape the reality that the parable does point to the return of the king and some form of new dispensation, whatever that looks like. So I’m not free to engage in the life of this world in all its vitality and complexity and challenge to the neglect of the hereafter. OK, perhaps it is a cliché the charge that the conservatives have focussed unduly on personal salvation and the despising of the world, and liberals have focussed on the injustices of the world to the detriment of individual guilt. But it’s here. And so is personal judgment. And ultimate reward.

What makes the whole thing utterly ludicrous is the insane balance between faithfulness in this life and the reward or responsibility in the life to come. They are related, but waaaay out of proportion. Of such foolishness is the Kingdom composed.

0 thoughts on “Digging in for the Long Haul: Luke 19, The Parable of the Minas IV

  1. glenn, i have been reading your thoughts on the parable of the minas. interesting stuff. the question itching my mind, however, is what if the third servant is right? what if this king really is corrupt? like a greedy capitalist reaping where he has not sown? does this king have to represent god? or does jesus represent him with a flash of irony? the logic of this parable seems at odds with ‘the meek.. shall inherit the earth’ he advocates in what have come to be known as the beatitudes. maybe the third servant didn’t invest as he was instructed because he did not trust the economic practices of his overlord. so what, then, does the parable tell us about resisting these corrupt and injust economic systems? not that i want to bounce around in the liberal camp and ponder only social injustice! i think you are right to mention the dichotomising of fundamental conservatism and fundamental liberalism in ways that make it harder for these stoires to co-exist…but i wonder if the king can be read differently from the blood-thirsty patriarch the parable ends with….
    would be interested to hear your thoughts.


  2. Hey Gail….I’ve thought about that before and I just don’t know. I’m uncomfortable about the ending and so want to wish it away. I’m still forced back to the twin issues of Jesus attempts to quell unhealthy ‘otherworldliness’ by dampening enthusiasm for his return. A return that would also involve judgment (the uncomfortable bit, unless I fancy myself as one of the safe ones).

    But obviously, you’re forcing me back to read it more deeply, because what I’ve only just noticed is the immediate context. Salvation comes to Zacchaeus following an act of economic realignment.

    More time needed.

    (PS we were talking about you over dinner tonight! All good.)

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