My friends Rob West and Steve Moore from MoneyWise radio and I recently discussed Jesus' economic parables. To get the full picture, I suggest that you listen to the whole interview, but here are some highlights.
Jesus not only talked about money quite often in the Gospels - he talked about them frequently in the parables.
Jesus' parables are financially sophisticated. His numbers ring true, and he seems to be knowledgeable about the cutting edge innovations in finance of the time. Jesus has often been seen as from a backward region, but the latest discoveries in archeology show that he grew up in a financially sophisticated environment.
Jesus has been seen as an anti-wealth peasant revolutionary, a sort of proto-Marxist revolutionary. This idea runs aground on Jesus' parables, which take a generally positive view towards business activity, including even the financial industry.
In addition, the parables show the owner/entrepreneur as the 'good guy' in the parable, whereas frequently stewards, bailiffs, and even peasants play the role of the 'bad guy'. If Jesus' social agenda was anti-business, then he sure had a strange way of showing it.
Even the parables which have most often been used to suggest that Jesus had a negative view towards those who accumulated wealth, the problem is that the parables of Lazarus and the Rich Man, the Parable of the Rich Fool, the parable of the Unfaithful Steward, all show significant amounts of evidence of being sharp-edged critiques, not of honest merchants and farmers, but instead of religious and political elites.
Therefore, religious and political elites should be a little less quick to use these parables as bludgeons against the entrepreneurial class. Anybody of any class can be greedy, but the emphasis on the greed-risk of business people ignores the fact that Jesus' warnings against greed seem to mainly associated with the greed exhibited by elites whose wealth is extracted by force and manipulation rather than earned.
Be sure to let me know what you think, and please share with anyone you think might benefit from a deeper understanding of Jesus' often misunderstood economic message.