Luke’s Gospel begins today with these words “While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately.” (Luke 19:11)
His journey to Jerusalem, nearly complete, Jesus tells a parable to those who thought the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately when he reached the city. It’s a parable about a nobleman who went off to a distant country to obtain a kingdom and then return.
The nobleman, of course, is Jesus himself who speaks of his own resurrection “to a distant country”. His followers will remain with gold coins in their hands and the command to “trade till I come.”
It seems strange that the servant Jesus so strongly condemns is the one who seems so cautious. “ Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief.” But this servant is afraid of the time he’s living in and does nothing.
In Luke’s time, this servant was like those whom Paul warns in his Letter to the Thessalonians. Disappointed because they see Jesus’ promises unfulfilled, they do nothing. Or like the disciples on the way to Emmaus, shocked by a crucified Lord and his death, they head to hide in the safety of their own homes.
In our time, who might this servant be? We are living in a world where promises, human and divine, seem unfulfilled. Shall be do nothing? What’s the gold coin in our hand?