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I'm a nerd for literary critique. It's the process of digging for the meaning of a story. An author weaves his intent like a thread into the fabric of the narrative. You can find these threads in the overall narrative of the accounts of Jesus' life and you can do it with the individual parables Jesus shared.

The parable recorded in Luke 19 is packed with allegory, something not typical of parables. In general, the meaning of a parable is found in the overall story. The details don't usually carry much specific symbolism. However, the details in "The Ten Coins" are important. They hold keys to unlocking the full meaning of the parable.

Follow me for a second.

Jesus starts the parable describing a nobleman leaving town. The expression used here "for a distant land" carries connotations of death. In first century Judea, that phrase would have told the listener that return wasn't expected.

Next, we're told this person is leaving to gain "royal power". In other words, this journey will turn the nobleman into ruler of the land.

Finally, we have the coins. The nobleman hands out money to each of the ten servants. The word translated into coin is "mina", a currency that equates about 3 months of wages. This implies he expects to be away for 3 months.

Put these details together and we uncover something. The nobleman is a stand-in for Jesus. In fact, there's another clue just a couple paragraphs earlier in Luke's account where Jesus foretells his death and resurrection. The ultimate endgame for Jesus is dying and returning from death 3 days later. It's through his death that the early followers of Jesus proclaimed he became "Christós" or king.

When you read Jesus' parables you'll find meaning when you identify the Christ character. It's not always there, but in this one the intent is clear. With the nobleman-turned-king (rendered as the queen in my adaptation) established as the Jesus symbol, the remainder of the parable will take on its complete meaning.


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