A Man of Noble Birth

Luke 19:11-27

It sounds like a chidren’s bedtime story, the kind that begins, “Once upon a time….”

“A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.  So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.”  (A mina was about three month’s wages.)

“Put this money to work, he said, until I come back.”

“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.'”

Hmmm…that sounds oddly familiar, don’t you think?

The story goes on to tell of how the man of noble birth, made King anyway, despite objection, returns and holds his servants accountable.  Some, as it turns out, did better than others.

The tale ends abruptly, violently, where those who didn’t want him to be their king, are summarily executed in front of the king.  Hmmm…anything but a nice bedtime story there.

It is an ominous story, to say the least, told by Jesus right before he enters Jerusalem for the last time before his betrayal, crucifixion, death, and resurrection – the fateful arrival we will recall this coming Sunday, Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.

What are we to make of it?  This tale of an earthly King passing fair judgement on unfaithful servants right before we hear of unfaithful servants passing unfair judgement on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Just that, I suppose.

A solemn warning and reminder that Jesus was, and is, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

We don’t like stories that portray him in this final judgement light.  It is far more comfortable, digestible, to think of him as only love and grace.  But, when we do that, we miss an important part of the total tale.

Righteous judgement and merciful love are oddly yet perfectly mixed in the story of Jesus.  It is the stuff of long theological treatises not children’s bedtime stories.  So, it must be carefully and thoughtfully considered.  Something which, in my opinion, can take a lifetime to do.

It’s almost Holy Week.  The story continues.  As it does, let us humbly consider the King and His servants – and what we are called to do – until He returns.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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