This week’s scripture is found in the 25th chapter of Matthew and is one of three parables in this chapter which deal with the return of Jesus and what is expected of those who claim to be his followers.
14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’The talent that Jesus is referring to in this parable is obviously not an ability or a skill rather it is an amount of money—a very large amount of money. In fact, a talent was the equivalent of about 15 times the average worker’s wage. To put it in today’s terms we are talking $400,000 or more! So the master has shown great confidence in each of the slaves.
• How would you react if someone put you in charge of that much money?
• How would you feel about the person trusting you with such a great responsibility?
Each slave was given different amounts “according to their ability” and no where does it appear that they compared what they had been given with one another.
o How often do you look at others and wonder why God hasn’t given you the money, talents, resources that they have?
o How often do you fail to use what God has given you for the sake of the gospel because you think you don’t have enough to give?
This translation (NRSV) says the first and second slaves used traded their talent to make money. A better translation is found in Eugene Petterson’s The Message where he says, “Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same.” In the end they are both judged faithful because they went to work with the money not because of the amount they earned.
o How are you putting the resources God has given you to work?
On the other hand, the third slave dug a hole and hid the money. It is important to know here that in Jesus’ day, this was considered a wise method for saving money! Much better than say . . . investing in mortgages! The third slave being conservative and safe.
o How often do you hold back from giving and serving because you are trying to safeguard your well being?
o How much risk are you willing to take for the kingdom of God?
At the center of this parable is the attitude that the slaves have toward their master. The first two appear to want to please the master. The third is afraid of him.
o What kind of God do you believe in? One who is gracious or one who is harsh?
o How do your actions reflect a belief in a gracious God?
o Or do your actions reflect a belief in a harsh God?
See you on Sunday!