Summary: Jesus calls us to take risks for Him. What have we risked today?
GRACE AND RISK
INTRO: Jimmy Draper, in his 1984 SBC address, spoke of visiting missionaries who risk their lives for the sake of the Gospel. He noted how little he, by comparison, risks. Most of us can say the same thing. Has Christ called us to risk for Him?
I. A PARABLE OF RISKING.
Jesus spoke a parable about risking. A master went on a trip and left three servants as stewards of portions of his estate--five, two, and one, respectively. The first two invested their portions and doubled their investments. The third buried his in the ground and returned to his master the exact amount which had been entrusted to him. Jesus was more interested in this third servant than the other two.
Through the years, this fellow has become the model for weakness and unfulfilled potential. All who have "buried their talents in the ground" have been named for him. But what caused his unwillingness to risk? Was it, as we often suspect, due to cowardice and weakness? Or was it also a misunderstanding of his task and a misguided perception of his master and his master’s will?
This story of risk contains a message of grace.What is the context of the parable?
Matt. 25 begins with the parable of the wise and foolish maidens, and concludes with the parable of the last judgment.
The parable of the talents is sandwiched between these two. The Master had gone away, and He will return. While He is away, He has given His servants a trust. What is that trust? It is that which has been entrusted to us in the interim. It is not just money (which is what a talent is) or abilities.
As we read Paul’s supreme statement of our purpose, we learn that God through Christ reconciled us to Himself and then that He gave us "the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18). The trust, then, is no less that the gospel itself!
II. RISKING AND PRESERVING.
The third servant has been criticized through the years, but he would have had sympathizers in the audience as Jesus told this story.
According to Rabbinic law, burying things was good. It absolved the bury-er from responsibility in the event of loss. It was the first century safe-deposit box. Many would say the third servant did the right and sensible thing. After all, the first two could have lost their investments.
Even banks can go belly-up. Is it not better, some would reason, to secure so great a trust against any risk at all?No, it was not just that the third servant did not risk. He did not understand what his master wanted him to do.
In that day, the rabbis did not see their job as on of propagation but as one of preservation. It was their duty to keep the law to give to the next generation or until Messiah came.
In a eulogy for a famous teacher, another rabbi of the day said these words to the grieving family, "Be comforted; he has given back intact that which was entrusted to him."
They thought their job was to ’give back intact," and that is exactly what the third servant did! Risking, for them, came through not preserving. Jesus was offering a new and radical alternative to preserving, possible only through the grace of God.
This parable is nothing less than a full frontal assault on the preservation mind-set of the religious leaders. Jesus was saying that these are the latter days. Messiah has come, and He no longer needs preservers, but riskers.
We can see why they got so upset when Jesus did not seem to give a hoot for the purity and the Sabbath laws. They feared the domino theory. He jeopardized their preservation principle. When Jesus explained that He was not flaunting, but fulfilling the Law, it did not register.
They were so afraid that Caiaphas could say: "It is expedient...that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should perish not" (John 11:50).
When you get in your head that preserving is the most important thing, you will do anything to see that it is preserved.But Jesus made all things new! No longer is preservation the gauge of piety, but propagation (or increase) through grace. Preservation is for dead things. But when Jesus was buried and then came out of the grave, He showed us that nothing that matters can ever be buried again.
III. FEAR AND GRACE.
The third servant called the master a "hard man." When you think your master is like that, you proceed out of fear and caution, as he did. But is God the "hard man"? The third servant’s understanding of the master was incomplete.
If we picture God as a "hard man," our bent to risk in His name certainly will be paralyzed. If we live in fear of failure, we will bury out talents in the ground. The ironic thing is that the master in the parable was displeased that the servant had not risked! Not risking can be more risky that risking!