We have a hard time accepting some of Jesus’ sayings because life in the Bubble is so disconnected from the harsh realities most of the world’s ordinary folks have always had to deal with. Our sensibilities have become too refined, our outlook too sophisticated, our lifestyle communities too insulated to accept at face value what we have come to call the “hard sayings” of Jesus.
Luke 19:11-27 is one of those passages. It grates on our nerves today because we have traded Jesus’ high standard for admission to his kingdom for an unbiblical “everybody ultimately wins” notion. Some of us seem to think God’s kingdom is like a peewee soccer game, where everyone gets to play, everyone is told they played well, and neither team loses. Anyone can consider himself a Christian, regardless of whether he lives like Jesus. Even the unrepentant sinner ultimately gets to go to heaven because we just can’t conceive of a loving God sending people to an eternal hell. What Jesus actually said is beside the point.
So our tender feelings are offended when the newly crowned king of Jesus’ parable takes away the trust fund of the pathetic steward who hoarded the treasure entrusted to him, rather than leveraging it to advance the kingdom. And we are revolted when the king orders his enemies — the subjects who would not be subject to him — brought before him to be executed.
What we need to do is take a deep breath and allow the Word of God to speak plain truth into our hearts: The faithful slaves of King Jesus are those who take the time, talent, and treasure he has given them and leverage it to advance the Kingdom, and they will be rewarded. The faithless slaves are those who hoarded the treasure, rather than advance the Kingdom, and they will be punished. The rebellious souls who stubbornly refused to accept his kingship will be destroyed, and not just in the next life.
There are consequences for rebellious subjects and faithless slaves who refuse to recognize Jesus for who he is. Believe what you want, but eventually you will have to come to terms with the truth. God raised Jesus from the dead to prove Jesus was indeed the unique messenger sent from God — his own Son. (Romans 1:4) Sooner or later, both rebellious subjects and faithless slaves will have to explain themselves to the King.
On the other hand, acknowledging King Jesus for who he is has a two-fold benefit: God receives the honor he deserves and the faithful slave receives reward beyond anything he could have imagined. Whether you’re a hard-headed pragmatist or a starry-eyed idealist, it doesn’t seem like such a difficult decision.
But perhaps you’d rather keep playing peewee soccer.