Jesus told an excellent parable in the book of Matthew – The parable of the three servants (Also called the parable of the talents.)
This parable has been marinating in my head for the last several days. It’s deep but the message is clear! For those who are unfamiliar with it, let me bring you up to speed!
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
In the beginning of the chapter Jesus gave us a hint at what He was talking about.
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like…
Jesus is teaching on the kingdom of heaven/the kingdom of God. The Jews in those days had some misconceptions over what was going to happen. They were familiar with prophecy and they were familiar with the prophecy teachings of the Messiah. They knew the Messiah was coming to overthrow the world governments and to set up His kingdom – a kingdom that will last forever – as told most notably in the book of Daniel. However they weren’t aware of the interruption that would take place on God’s prophetic time clock – they weren’t aware that the master had to go away for a period of time (The Church age.) They were expecting the kingdom to show up any minute.
Jesus had to correct them with this parable – Jesus is the master in the story.
The master knew he would be leaving for a while, so he gathered his servants and left them in charge of his possessions. He entrusted them with his money – each according to their own abilities – giving them 5, 2, and 1 talents respectively and expected them to invest it wisely while he was gone. For reference purposes a talent is worth approximately $1,000 dollars.
So then by parallel, Jesus is the master who would be going away for a while. He has given all His servants something very valuable and expects us all to make wise investments with it so that we can present him with an increase when He returns.
Now that we understand that Jesus is the master and will be returning to call into account our stewardship, we need to ask ourselves “What has Jesus entrusted to me? What do the talents represent that I am to invest wisely so I can present Him with an increase?”
The first clue in figuring out what we are entrusted with is the very fact that it’s something that is given to us. It Doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the master but he is leaving it in our possession so we can invest it wisely while He is gone.
Could it be the Holy Spirit?(Can one invest the Holy Spirit?) Could it be love? (While love can be invested there is no guarantee of return.) Could it be the fruit of the spirit? (Fruit grows and multiplies but I think there is yet a better answer.)
While these are good guesses I believe Jesus is referring to something else in His parable. The true talent that Jesus entrusted to His disciples is the message of the great news of salvation! Jesus came to die in our place to set people free from sin and He commissioned His servants with the task of spreading this message to the ends of the earth!
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Having “all authority in heaven and earth” Jesus entrusted His servants with spreading the message, making disciples, baptizing believers and teaching them to obey all of Jesus’ commands. This is the valuable possession that our master left for us to invest wisely!
In the parable the servants are each given different amounts to invest, just the same we servants of Christ have different circles of influence. Some of us were blessed with the ability to reach large numbers of people while others are left with smaller responsibilities. However it is not the amount that is important as is shown in the parable, but it is our faithfulness with what we are given. Are you out working hard, investing? Or did you dig a hole and bury what little you were given so as not to lose it?
The commendations to the faithful servants who invested and produced a return were warm and promising! “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
But the condemnation to the unfaithful servant is harsh and unnerving. “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Straight from the Masters mouth – the unfaithful servant who buries their talent is wicked and lazy. The little they do have will be taken from them and they will be thrown out into darkness.
If you consider yourself a servant of Christ you need to ask yourself – are you faithful with what you’ve been given or did you bury your talent?
What will you present the Master when He returns?