Paralysis by analysis – Wednesday, 33rd week in ordinary time – Luke 19:11-28
We are told that Jesus breaks into another parable soon after the Zacchaeus encounter. Jericho was fifteen miles from Jerusalem and Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem for the Passover and it seems that many believed that he was going to establish His kingdom immediately. Therefore he told a parable to the crowd to show that the kingdom would not be established immediately as they had thought. Instead, according to what the Father had planned, Jesus must go to the cross first. There is a sense of departure in this story of Jesus; they were not to expect a coronation but rejection.
The parable seems to have two parallel story lines. First, the hostility between the king and the citizens who want to be rid of him. Second, the interactions between the king and his slaves. The latter receives the most attention. The parable of the unpopular king, while is a clear reference to the hatred that the Jews had for Jesus also had its roots in a historical fact. At the death of Herod the Great, his son Archelaus had to undertake a long journey “to receive kingly power.” He could not be king in Judea until his claims had been ratified by the government in Rome. Because of his unpopularity, a group of 50 Jewish subjects went to Rome to complain against his kingship. Archelaus killed his enemies on his return.
The parable has three types of slaves; the faithful ones who obeyed because they loved and trusted their master and wanted to please him. The unfaithful one who disobeyed because he ‘feared his master’ and the rebellious citizens who rebelled because they hated their king. To each of these slaves, ten pounds were given when the king went abroad. The ‘mina’ represented here by a pound was the equivalent of three months wages for a labourer or close to 100 denarii. Each servant was given ten pounds to do business with until the king came back. The amount was the same to signifying equal opportunity in spite of the fact that each slave was different.
The first servant had earned ten pounds with the one pound that had been entrusted to him. He had an awareness that the money was not his own (“your pound”) and he used it as best as he could in the advancement of his master’s interests and is given a reward of ruling over ten cities. The second managed to make a profit of only five pounds and for this he is given five cities to rule over. Although he earned less than the first man he was not reprimanded for his smaller profit. Instead, he was commended and his reward was to be over five cities