As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ When 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. The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’ Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for 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.’ He 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? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) ‘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. But 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.’”
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. ~ Luke 19:11-28
Here's what I know after reading this passage:
- Just when you think you have the Kingdom of God figured out, you don't.
- This difficult, troubling parable is the last one Jesus tells before he enters Jerusalem for the final time. Everything he's done to this point has brought him here. The next thing he will do is instruct his disciples to untie a colt for his ride into Jerusalem.
Somehow in my mind, that fact strongly affects what's happening in this parable. Up until now, the kingdom of God has had a comforting feel to it. Jesus has used it to show of God's abundant grace.
And yet, it is also terrifying.
It is both now.
And it is also not yet.
Both now and not yet.
Comforting and terrifying.
Peaceful and earth-shattering.
The truth is what we can't wrap our minds about the full breadth of paradox that encompasses our faith story. God's ways are not our ways. God's mind is not our mind.
And we live right now in that in between place. That place sandwiched between now and not yet.
So while Jesus leaves us with his upsetting story, we know it is not the end. From here, Jesus' journey is just beginning. We may be caught off-balance, but the ride is going to sweep us along to something else. Something unexpected.
And yet completely expected, if we'd been listening to Jesus all along.
Lord, awake me to your ways, those both expected and those that utterly confound me! Amen