Risky Responsibility


Sermon, Day of Fulfilment 21 November 2010. Ocean Forest

Luke 19:11-27

Risky Responsibility

TEXT: v26 The king replied, “Those who have something will be given more. But everything will be taken away from those who don’t have anything.

As we sit here on the end of another church year and look over the way to see another Christmas, end of year and new year on the horizon, we do so with a timely word from the Master about life and our calling for now and the new year. It is a ward of affirmation and challenge.

As Jesus draws ever closer to the fulfilment of his earthly mission which will end in Jerusalem, the crowds are gathering and wondering what is going to happen when the guy who is proclaiming himself to be God’s own Son, arrives in the Royal city and clashes head-on with the powers that be.

Will Jesus the King rise up and create a new political landscape? Will he overthrow Pilate, the Roman governor and Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest? Will he challenge the Jewish Council? Will he challenge and overthrow even Rome?

Many want this. Many want triumph without suffering. Many want Jesus to do it all and fix it all without any cost or personal investment by them. We can tell this from some poignant words spoken by those few depressed followers, who talked with the strange traveller on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection,

“What are you talking about?” asks the stranger (who actually is the risen Jesus). “About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to save Israel….” (Luke 24:21)

As he has done before, Jesus re-directs the mob with all of their excited banter and wild imagining of new power and peace without any risk on their part by telling a memorable story about a young prince who heads off to a royal city to get his stamp of approval from those above him to rule his local kingdom.

The Prince gives each of his servant’s different and moderate sums of money with the instruction to make a profit with the money until he returns. He tells his servants to do business; to trade with what he has given them.

The reckoning occurs when the Prince; now the King of his kingdom, returns. The first two servants are generously affirmed and rewarded by the new King for trading in his gifts; for doing business with what they had been given by the King. Their success in using what they had been given is rewarded with them being appointed governors over towns in the King’s kingdom.

However, it is the third servant who gets most of the attention. It has not gone well for him. If he had actually traded or done business with what he had been given and lost it all, that would be one thing. But he has not even tried to trade or do business to profit his King. He only has hid what he had been given.

Why didn’t he have a go? Why did he hide the gift away? Why didn’t he take a risk for his King and do his King’s business?

He says he was afraid of his King. This fear seemed to paralyse the man. He was unable to risk losing, unable to risk trading and doing the King’s business. He describes the King as a “harsh man”. The servant has misunderstood the King’s intentions and his goal, and now the King will be indeed harsh on this unfaithful, ‘untrying’, ’safe’ servant. This person will have no share in the King’s rule.

The King does not withdraw his gifts to himself but gives them away again to the person who took the risks, made the effort and actually did the King’s business.

Friends, I hear Jesus now affirming us for the many times we may have done our King’s business with the gifts he has given us this year. I also hear the King telling us that we need to take risky responsibility for the coming of the kingdom of the King n our times and places.

I hear Jesus affirming us for all the times we have dared to do his business of living and speaking of Jesus and the forgiveness and love found in him to people of all sorts.

I know there are people here who almost daily risk a lot – their reputation, their emotional well-being, there professional practice in the attempt to bring the Good news of Jesus to kids and parents in this college.