Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church

Don't bury your talent

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Monday Matthew 2:22 (NRSV)
When [Joseph] heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee.

King Herod the Great was cruel. When he couldn’t find the baby Jesus, he had all the children of Bethlehem two years of age and under put to death in an attempt to kill him. Warned in a dream, Joseph and Mary had fled to Egypt with Jesus just before the slaughter.

When Herod died, his will specified that his son Archelaus was to become king. Archelaus went to Rome to get Caesar’s approval for his reign. He was opposed by people from Jerusalem, who thought he would be cruel. They were right. Archelaus had 3000 Pharisees killed on crosses for sedition. He ruled only ten years before the complaints were so strong that Rome removed him from office.

Take some time today to pray for the nations of the earth, that they would have just and fair leaders.

Tuesday Luke 19:11b-17 (NRSV)
[Jesus] 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.’“

Why does Jesus tell this story?
What is the social climate like for the servants charged with trading?
How does the faithful servant’s reward compare to the job the servant has done?
How do you think your rewards will compare with the job you have done?

Wednesday Luke 19:18-19 (NRSV)
Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’

The first person to report did exceptionally well. He wound up with ten times as much as he was given. The second to report has also done remarkably well – just not in comparison to the first. He has five times what he was given. His reward is in proportion to his ability.

How well do you think you have done so far managing the resources God has given you?

Thursday Luke 19:20-25 (NRSV)
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!’)

The people object to the ruler’s sensible business decision. They think the distribution should be more equal, regardless of the ability of the manager. But the ruler is trying to use his resources well – both the wealth he has and the people at his disposal. If someone can’t handle something, they shouldn’t have it.

Are you in the group that thinks the bad manager should have been able to keep his pound?
Or would you have given it to the one who made ten times what he was given?
If Jesus were to return today, what do you think he would say about how you have managed your life so far?

Friday Luke 19:26 (NRSV)
‘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.”

Jesus says the kingdom of God is a meritocracy – if you do well, you will be given more to work with. If you waste your resources, they will be stripped from you.

This is not the only story Jesus tells with this moral; he also tells of a tree about to be cut down because it isn’t producing fruit. (See Luke 13:6-9.)

What are you doing with the resources God has given you?
How would you rate your accomplishments so far?
How do you think Jesus would rate them?

Saturday Luke 19:27 (NRSV)
“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.’"

Do you think Luke 19:11-26 applies to Jesus going away to get royal power and his eventual return?
If so, what do you think about the enemies of the king being slaughtered in his presence?

What are you doing this week because of Jesus?
What would you like help with?