This past weekend, we opened up a difficult conversation around money, finances, wealth, profits, economics, and capitalism. And, since we are in a series looking at nuance (Grey Area), we began by realizing both the subtle power of money, as well as the good of money. Money can do really great things, but it can also really quickly become our master.

So, the issue isn’t money per se, but how our hearts relate and respond to money.

To explore this further, we looked at the parable of the talents in Luke 19:11-27. First, I shared the traditional interpretation of this parable, after which I shared some of the major issues with that interpretation. You know, the one where the good guy, or the hero, is the one who makes 10x the investment.

And, we looked at six reasons why this interpretation falls short…

  1. The odd and specific details in the parable, exploring how they shape it.
  2. The theme of empire and power so clearly seen in the parable, and how the Bible is always anti-empire.
  3. The character of the king (who is often seen as a metaphor for God or Jesus in the traditional interpretation), and how he looks nothing like Jesus in the Gospels – stealing and taking what isn’t his, and having a severe cruel streak.
  4. The context of Luke, and how much he is against the amassing of wealth.
  5. How unjust and impossible a 10x return is to achieve in this society without the existence of oppression and outright theft.
  6. The historical basis this parable has in the story of the ruler, Archaleus.

All of this led us to our main, but simple point: Money blinds us, and we are so often blind to its power.

I think we interpret this parable wrong, because we aren’t aware of how deeply money, wealth, and greed shape our hearts and our imaginations.

I ended with this challenge: To pay more attention to money this week, by reading the Gospel of Luke. To see how Luke deals with money and greed. Because, I honestly believe that our world shapes us, and that we need to be more shaped by the Gospels than the values of our world.

So, read the gospel of Luke and get immersed in his world.

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5 comments on “WEEKEND REVIEW: Money

  1. Marvin Srigley on

    I am sorry to have to write this, but our pastor wants us to be honest. So, being honest I must say that I completely disagree with the interpretation of this parable as we heard preached on Sunday. We expect our pastors to wait on God and share with us the things they receive from the study of God’s Word. It was said on Sunday that our pastor preached the wrong interpretation of this parable 6 times in other congregations prior to Sunday. So, in waiting on God, was God wrong in these 6 cases? Does it not also suggest that the many, many Men of God who have preached the “traditional” interpretation; does this not suggest that they are wrong as well? I have never in my life (65 years), heard a preacher refer to the 10 talent person as a hero, nor have I ever heard preached that the unfaithful servant is the real hero. Has our pastor waited on God and received this “new and right interpretation” from God for us to digest, or has it come from another source?

  2. Stan Baerg on

    After listening to the message, I checked some actually many commentaries from the great scholars and authors and they seemed to all agree with the traditional interpretation and explained the seeming odd characteristics of the nobleman who is said to represent Christ. Interesting read.

    • Andrew Mill on

      Hi Stan – I’m glad that you pursued things deeper. I think more studying and wrestling is always a good response.

  3. Andrew Mills on

    Hi Marvin – I appreciate the honesty, because I do think that really matters. And, I can also appreciate that what I shared on Sunday can be unsettling for some. If it helps, I did pray and wait on the Lord for this, for a very long time. For over 5+ years, I have been praying and wrestling with this passage. And, what I think it means for me is that it is possible, even with waiting and listening, to misread passages. While God is perfect, our interpretations aren’t always. So, I hope that might help as you process and listen for God’s leading with however He may help you to understand this passage.

  4. Eileen Baerg on

    With God timing is everything so it is interesting to me that on the Sunday you preached on Luke 19, we were out of town and the church we went to, the pastor preached on Matt 25, the other parable of “the talents”. I thought at first they were the same with just different authors perspectives, but at looking at the details of each I came to the conclusion while similar they were to two different groups of people. I don’t think either refer to money as the object lesson. Both were around the same time in Jesus ministry but Matt 25 took place after the Triumphal entry to Jerusalem and Luke 19 just before. This is significant for Luke 19 because Jesus there is talking to Jews who were looking for Him to establish an earthly Kingdom (aka Empire). So perhaps Matt 25 was to His disciples while Luke 19 was to the Jews in general who within the week would reject Him as their king.

    When interpreting a passage that is difficult to understand, “context is king” so I looked at “what is the context?”. Luke 19:11 states that “while they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once”. So that sets the stage for the interpreting what Jesus was trying to tell them.

    I think the fact that it is similar to the antics of Archelaus is meant to drive home the point to those Jews as they would have been familiar with the story. However the difference in his story and the parable is that Archelaus never did become king of all that he wanted. He only received a part from Rome.

    As to the conclusion that the man who made a 10 x return, having defrauded and exploited others, that would hold true only if the nobleman was gone a short time, however if you understand that the nobleman was gone a very long time (relating to Jesus being gone a long time before he returns, and it is a long time) then the returns aren’t so astounding. They were all given only one mina which I found most scholars state this was a small amount (max 3 months wages to live on) unlike the parable in Matt 25 where the amounts were larger and differ from one servant to the next.

    So what has been given equally to each servant? The explanation that made the most sense to me was it was the Gospel. Each servant has been given the good news of Jesus. Note the one servant who hid it was not thrown out in this parable, he just didn’t get a reward.

    I also noted that the ones who rebelled and didn’t want him as king are mentioned at the beginning and the end of the parable. They aren’t law abiding citizens. They reject the king. If Jesus is talking to the Jews he is making a point. The fact that the enemies are destroyed speaks to what will happen when Jesus returns. You stated that this isn’t what Jesus does, but in Revelation this is exactly what He will do. To deny this judgment denies God’s holiness and the fact that He is a just God. You can’t have justice without punishment of sin in the end. The only thing that keeps us from His wrath is our claiming the blood of Jesus as our righteousness. His, is the only righteousness that is enough (it exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Matt 5:20).

    There are a lot of things that I don’t understand but I know that there is a lot of teaching by Jesus about the Kingdom so it depends on which Empire you are talking about when you say that the Bible is not about an Empire. He will return and establish His in due time.


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