With great power there must also come great responsibility…
~The “Peter Parker Principle” from Spiderman Comics (1962)
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48b (NIV)
Jesus concludes his parable of the wise and faithful servant with this line, which has become a modern mantra – thanks to Spiderman, the U.S. Supreme Court, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates and a few recent U.S. presidents.
Yet no one actually quotes the full New Testament parable itself ending with this very concept.
The story Jesus tells in Luke 12: 42-48 makes us wince, just as it is meant to:
42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
The same story as told in the gospel of Matthew ends not only with “a few blows” but with “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Somehow that part is left out of Spiderman’s story, even though Spiderman experiences plenty of weeping in accepting his fate. Still, this is a bit too close to home for those in power and those with immense wealth — like Peter Parker’s reluctant acceptance of his Spidey powers, we know all too well the reality of just how fragile and weak we really are despite American’s relative wealth compared to the rest of the world.
Those who live as Christians have particular responsibility and accountability, identifying by name with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who made the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. He took the blows so we would be spared – no more weeping and gnashing of teeth.
On this federal holiday honoring our government’s top executive position, we must continually hold our elected leaders to their vowed oaths of responsibility and accountability. As individual citizens entrusted with much, we have much to give even before we’re asked.
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