A Warped View Of Christ

8 05 2008

In Luke 19 Jesus tells a parable about a person with a warped view of Christ. The servant attempts to justify his own behavior by maligning his master:

11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.

20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.

22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?

24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. 25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) 26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. 27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

The unfaithful servant did nothing with his pound, and then instead of taking responsibility for his own faults, he slanders the master. The master was not an austere man, nor was he a thief, but in fact he was a merciful and just man. Yet the master did not worry about the slander, but condemned the man as unjustified even according to his own warped view of the master.

“If you thought I was a thief,” the master is saying, “why didn’t you get me some usury from the lords of thievery?” You see, even if the master had been a cruel thief, the unfaithful servant was still not justified for doing nothing with his pound.

Some interpret this parable to mean that Jesus is endorsing usury, which is completely topsy-turvy from the meaning of the parable. What if the servant had said, “Lord, here is thy pound. I kept it safely hid in this napkin. For I feared thee, for I knew that thou wast an austere man, and a lover of harlots.” If the master were to have judged him according to the servant’s own mouth, he might have said “Oh, knewest thou that I was a lover of harlots? Pray then, why did thou not hire me one, that I might enjoy her company this evening and bestow my blessing upon thee?” Would such language be interpreted as condoning prostitution? No, that would be as ridiculous as interpreting the parable of the pounds as condoning usury. Furthermore, there is no doubt that if Jesus had been advocating usury, something forbidden by God in his law, the Pharisees would have likely seized upon this as an opportunity to show him to be in disobedience to God’s law. And we know that Jesus was perfect in his obedience and taught others to do the same. It would have been very confusing for him to claim to be God’s son and going around condemning people for not violating God’s law!

The Geneva Bible notes have a few good comments on this at Matthew 25:27 regarding the parable of the talents:

Bankers who have their shops or tables set up abroad, where they lend money at interest. Usury or loaning money at interest is strictly forbidden by the Bible, (Exo_22:25-27; Deu_23:19-20). Even a rate as low as one per cent interest was disallowed, (Neh_5:11). This servant had already told two lies. First he said the master was an austere or harsh man. This is a lie for the Lord is merciful and gracious. Next he called his master a thief because he reaped where he did not sow. Finally the master said to him sarcastically why did you not add insult to injury and loan the money out at interest so you could call your master a “usurer” too! If the servant had done this, his master would have been responsible for his servant’s actions and guilty of usury.

Now think about what this all says about Christians today. Many say that putting money in the bank at interest is “good stewardship”. What are we saying about God when we say and do that? Does this indicate that our view of God is as warped as the unfaithful servant? I don’t know how we can escape that conclusion.

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5 responses

8 05 2008
10 05 2008
Keith

Floyd,
Excellent, concise observations on this oft misunderstood parable. I have considered purchasing a copy of the Geneva Bible as a study reference. The commentary you cite nudges me closer to that decision. Thanks.

10 05 2008
floydturbeville

Thank you for the kind words, Keith.

As a reference, you might also check out E-Sword which has the Geneva Bible and the translation notes available in a nice, easy to use format.

13 05 2008
randallgerard

I concur with Keith with regard to the Geneva bible. It’s stunning to realize that after following the Lord faithfully for almost 30 years, I’ve never yet heard this parable expounded correctly from a pulpit!

That’s not an excuse mind you, just a fact. Time to exchange ‘money’ drawing interest (usury) in a bank for a geneva bible. That might be a good first step on the long road of repentance…

11 09 2008
Jeffrey Alan Klute

Keith,
Thanks for the article, it is encouraging to see others teaching and preaching this parable correctly. The pulpits are beginning to ring again with righteousness, which made this country great (in the past, and hopefully in our future).

Randy,
It is good to run across you again in cyberspace, and to see you continue to stand fast in the truth.

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