In Luke's version, Jesus has just been staying at the house of the Jericho tax collector, Zaccheus,|
He was on his way to Jerusalem, and ends up saying “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”.
Luke's version is plainly a reuse of the parable quoted by Matthew which is set in Jerusalem,
or rather on the Mount of Olives after a visit to the Temple
The story in Matthew's Gospel is clearly about the end of this age
and leads on to the judgement in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats.
By the time of Luke's writing, the story has moved with the times.
It has become a call for Christians to get off their backsides
and a revolutionary political statement.
Luke's tale was mirrored in the politics of the time.
A son of Herod went to Rome to bid for rule over Israel
and the locals sent a deputation after him to oppose his appointment
(see verse 14, which is an obvious insertion out of context to the main story).
Politics and religion are seldom separated – each feeding off the failures of the other.
However we can also see an unexpected thought process which is supported by Matthew 13:12
"to him who has much will be given and whoever does not have all will be taken away"
where it is applied to the parable of the sower, where only the good soil flourishes.
Here again, in this parable, there is support for the advantaged over the rest.
Is this support of elitism and the discarding of the disadvantaged?
Do we see here a contrary view to present Christian concepts?
In our seeking journey, have we found a divergence?
Once again we see the un-wisdom of taking a simplistic view of scripture,
or treating the stories and teaching as unbiased, literal, accounts of actual events.
The authors were children of their time, as were later copyists, translators, and compilers.
The texts are infused with the usual venom associated with any form of directive writing,
and biassed by a politics and agenda which no longer fits our context.
Perhaps this is a picture of the progress of Christianity.
By the time of Luke, the Christians are still expected to "make a profit"
(Perhaps a term used as an euphemism for spreading the Christian faith)
but are not, or are no longer, condemned if they do not.
It is the enemies beyond the gate who are killed;
those who oppose the Christian community.
Today it is the exception to "make a profit"
Maybe today's spiritual poverty equates to the single mina/bag of gold.
Maybe more is now not expected of us. Maybe we are off the hook.
Maybe it is someone else's fault - the church, society, God ?
Not us anyway.