Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Parable of the Ten Minas

This parable is recorded in Luke 19.

Luke 19:11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants,[a] he gave them ten minas,[b] and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’
15 “When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant![c] Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’
20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’ ”

It is generally accepted that the nobleman is meant to be Jesus, but is it possible this refers to an actual nobleman? Archelaus, for example, went to Rome to claim the land after the death of his father Herod.

The servants represent the people of the land, the first two being tax collectors, who gain a lot of money for the nobleman. The third represents the common man, who has carefully guarded the land, but has not exploited it or anyone else to get more money.

This becomes clear when this third servant says: "you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow" What possible reason is there for this to be said of Jesus? Jesus was on earth to "sow", so that the good would be reaped! It is the accusation of a poor man to a tyrannical ruler.

The response by the noble man also is that of a tyrannical ruler - from the perspective of the under-trodden. He takes from poor, and gives to the rich. This is a polemic against unfair taxation: "I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away".

Jesus entreats us to love our enemies. Is this then the words of Jesus, or of a tyrannical ruler: "But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me."

Put this context. Jesus is inside the house of a tax collector who Luke notes is rich; the tax collector has just given away half his belongings, and Jesus has said he is saved. The perfect time to speak about the inequities of Roman taxation.

No comments:

Post a Comment