Do I Have to Like Everything Jesus Said?

September 1st, 2008 • Category: Gospel of Luke
by Keith Phillips

Today’s scripture: Luke 19:11-27 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Keith Phillips):

I do not like this parable.

A nobleman goes off on a journey to be crowned king. He gives each of his servants great sums of money and essentially tells them to make him a profit. The man returns. Most of the servants have increased the money, but one. Then comes the familiar point that servants, or disciples of Jesus, must use what we’ve been given or we will lose it. That’s all well and good. Nice fodder for a stewardship sermon.

But that’s not the problem I have with this parable. There’s this strange addition at verses fourteen and twenty-seven. Here, citizens follow the nobleman and tell the emperor that they don’t want him to be king. The king doesn’t like that, of course; and when he, and they, get back, he calls for them to be brought to him and slaughtered in his presence.

So much for thinking that democracies are like the Kingdom of God. The only place I can go with this is that anyone who rejects the King of kings (by the way, the parable apparently was told on Palm Sunday; it immediately precedes the big parade), is in for trouble.

Universalism (God is so loving that everyone will go to heaven) has become pretty popular these days. I tend to think this parable refutes that. There seems to be something about rejecting the love of God that indicates we have rejected the love of God. And I believe that God is enough of a gentleperson to respect our decisions with regard to God.

I also have my observations as a hospice chaplain and watching many people in the last moments of life. I have seen people struggle until in some way they turn to God, and then die a good death, holistically. My experience is that easily ninety percent of hospice patients die a good death. However, I have seen some horrible deaths, too. I believe those, too often, are persons who persist in rejecting God’s love to the bitter end. What happens to them on the other side? I can’t say for sure, but I do not like this parable.

Thought for the day: God, your unconditional love for me has brought me salvation now and forever. Help me share that Good News with those around me today. Amen.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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