I didn’t post anything on Friday, but because it’s such a difficult parable, I decided to skip today’s reading and comment on Friday’s “Parable of the Ten Minas”. Matthew has a similar parable called “The Parable of the Talents,” with which you might be more familiar. It’s also more straightforward than the parable Luke gives us.
Some historical context: when King Herod the Great died (the one who was king when Jesus was born in Bethlehem), his son Archelaus went to Rome to petition Caesar to permit him to reign in their father’s place. Some Jews followed him to Rome to ask Caesar not to accede to his request. (They were unsuccessful, and Archelaus became king.) So, Jesus seems clearly to be alluding to current events as he begins his parable:
12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’Luke 19:12-14
14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
The point is that Jesus was accusing some of the Jews of rejecting the Messiah’s reign in the same way they rejected Herod’s son.
As far as the rest of the parable, I like how Klyne Snodgrass explains it:
“Whatever else it does, the parable assumes a time when people will need to be faithful before the kingdom arrives….
“Like some Jews who resisted the reign of Achelaus, so some now resist the reign of the Messiah, but they will encounter judgement; further, the adherents of the Messiah will also be judged regarding their faithfulness. Both themes fit well in the last days of Jesus’ ministry. The parable serves as a warning to Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries–both those who followed him and those who did not….
“Jesus’ harsh language is intended to shock so that people take the warning seriously.”Klyne Snodgrass, Stories With Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus
Oh, and that final command of the king to slaughter his enemies?
Remember who is telling the story!
Jesus is killed on behalf of his enemies. So, why does he add that last line in? My best guess is that he’s just being provocative and alluding to the real-life example of Archelaus.