7 September 2019

Psalm 127, Matthew 25:14–30, Luke 22:35–38

The question is often asked, “when you get to Heaven, what do you want to hear?”

The common answer is, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

It is a feel-good statement. Truthfully, we would all like to hear that from God.

In the parable, the servants were given money to build up the master’s coffers. The interesting part about the parable is that 2 servants did well, and 1 servant did (basically) nothing. The reality is that in investing, you lose money, too. That is part of the risk. A person who launches a small business is putting their money at risk to be successful, with no guarantees. In the parable, we don’t have a servant that tried and failed. There is either trying and succeeding, or there is nothing (fear).

This seems significant. Though perhaps it is not. It could be argued that the 2 successful servants were blessed (Psalm 17:1) and the other servant just missed out. This is often the interpretation, as it is seen as applying to Israel for not living up to its potential. In fact, burying the money was (culturally) freedom from liability, for if buried money is stolen, there was no responsibility.
In Matthew’s version of the parable (or a different contextual telling of the parable), Matthew used “faithful” to describe the servant, while Luke did not. For Matthew, this was a matter of faith. The master trusted the servant to do the right thing (with what the Master gave), and be successful with it.

When it comes to real life, however, it is not o clear cut. In his last hours with his disciples, Jesus alludes to the disciples being taken care of when sent out by him earlier in the ministry. Yet, now they are to be self-prepared (instead of being taken care of) and even armed (though the weapon-like nature of the sword is questionable).

1) Why do you think there is such a difference between the servants in the parable and the disciples with Jesus?

2) What is your response to faithful in this context? What do you think it means? Do you think you are being faithful?

3) If one takes the parable too literally, one can conclude that a person is an unfaithful servant if they fail. What do you think about that?

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