June 12 2016 // A Severe King // Luke 19:11-27

The parable of the coins, recorded with some variation by Luke and Matthew, is not investment advice. In both accounts of Jesus' teaching, the parable slows down and zooms in when the unfaithful servant seeks to justify his refusal to invest the money his king provided him. "I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man," the servant says in Luke's telling. Likewise, in Matthew, the servant accuses his king of cruelty. This false belief about a king that is truly generous explains the unfaithful servant's behavior. He thought his king severe and so lived a cautious and fearful life, tiptoeing to avoid missteps and loss. He hoped this sort of risk aversion would spare him from the wrath of his king. But he had it all wrong. This was a king who despised caution for its own sake, one who much preferred risking everything for the grandest of possible payoffs. That's why he provided his servants with house money, so they'd go for broke. As it turned out, this king had no wrath for those who played fast and loose with his generosity. His wrath was for those who did all they could to avoid it.