This scripture, along with Luke 19:11-27, has always confused me. It never made sense to me why a person who tried to save the money he was given instead of risking it foolishly would be punished. Jesus talks all the time about those who have been given little, yet in this situation he takes from the one who was given little and gives it to the one with the most.
I had an a-ha moment the other day, though.
The sermons I've always heard on these two scriptures preach not in terms of finances, but in terms of the "gifts" and "talents" we've been given. Preachers/teachers always seem to sidestep the finance issue of this parable and make it into something simpler for us to handle. Though I agree that we do need to use the talents and gifts God has given us...I think He expects that of us, I believe we're letting ourselves off the hook easy by applying this scripture only to non-material "talents." I have come to believe that this passage is about exactly what it says. Jesus expected the people to "invest" their money. What does he mean by that?
Over the past few years I've started looking at my Christianity from a Jesus point of view. How did Jesus handle situations? Who did Jesus interact with? Where did Jesus spend his time?
What keeps coming up over and over is that Jesus spent his time with people. Plain, average people. People who didn't have a lot. People who were condemned by Christians as sinners. People "Christians" didn't want to associate with.
I like Jesus' approach. It makes so much more sense to me. He invested...in people. There is risk involved when you invest in people. It takes a lot of time and effort and even money, sometimes. The returns don't always come back as you expect. But, as in the parable, when we take those risks, the returns are often greater than we can imagine.
By simply taking our money, our time, our resources, and "burying" them...in a bank, in our own luxuries, within our own comfort zones...we are squandering what Jesus has given us.
"To whom much has been given, much is required."
God asks us to invest. An investment in people--financially, relationally, and spiritually--grows exponentially.