For an introduction to this series, click here.
March 29, 2007
This is the parable of the 10 minas, or as the King James calls them, pounds. The translators of the KJV took every opportunity to dumb down their Bible to make it supposedly easier for their readers to understand, and nowhere does this attempt actually make it harder to understand than when it comes to money. They kept the concept of the talent, which was a huge sum of money, but when they came to "denarius" they substituted "penny" and when they came to "mina" they used "pound." In both cases, the Greek text plainly says either "denarius" or "mina." A denarius was a standard day's wage for an unskilled laborer. In our money that is about $50. I know inflation and minimum wage laws change things, but at least that's an easy way to make comparisons. A quick perusal of the reference materials I have up here did not give me a specific answer on how much a mina was, but it was basically between $3,000 and $4,000: a significant sum, but substantially less than a talent, which works out to about a quarter of a million. Neither the denarius or the mina have any parallel to the English penny or pound.
This parable is obviously similar to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, but the differences stand out more than the similarities. In Luke's story, the king deals with not only his servants, but also rebellious subjects who do not want him to be king. The king gives each of his servants the same amount of money, one mina. This is different from the talents, where the master gives his servants different amounts of money. When the king comes back, one of his servants has made 10 minas in return. He is warmly praised, and is put over 10 cities. Another made 5 minas. He is commended, and put over 5 cities. This is different from the talents, in which the two servants who both doubled their money receive the exact same praise from the master. The third servant buried the money, and his money is taken away. But he is not cast into judgment, as the lazy servant in Matthew is. Instead, the rebellious people are judged.
This parable neatly parallels the Judgment Seat of Christ for the saved. We, the servants of King Jesus, are not punished for the bad things we did - those sins are already atoned for by Jesus. Instead, we are rewarded for the good things we did. Some will receive larger rewards than others, and some will receive absolutely nothing. I am afraid that you can count me in that sad list.
Let's go on. Next we have the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. How serendipitous! This Sunday is Palm Sunday, which marks both the high point of Jesus' ministry and the beginning of the end, which would come in less than a week. As we talked about in Mark, the Pharisees knew exactly what Jesus was doing. They knew that this was a fulfillment (of course to them it was a staged act) of Zechariah's prophecy, which reads: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9, ESV) This was the last straw as far as the Jewish leaders were concerned, and they were determined to do away with Him.
Then, of course, Jesus rides into the Temple, and kicks out all the money changers and the animal salesmen. I wonder what Jesus would think of all the hucksterism we see and hear on Christian radio and TV, with the vials of holy water and handkerchiefs and all the other nonsense. Of course this has been going on for centuries. Sales of indulgences, sales of relics, etc., have been a black mark on the church throughout its history.