Summary: Often used as the basis for teaching stewardship principles (tithing, time, etc.), perhaps this parable is meant by Jesus to teach stewardship of something a little more important?

The Parable of Jesus

The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30

August 30, 2009

This week is the parable of the talents. We’ll be looking at Matthew’s parable of the talents specifically. Luke has a very similar version. However, the details have been changed (such as talents become minas) and they are placed at different points in Jesus ministry. Although we cannot be certain, most likely the differences are the result of Jesus telling a parable in multiple situations probably altering the details for the specific context.

Matthew places this parable in the end-times discourse after Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, the overturning of the tables in the Temple, and the questions to entrap Jesus. The passion events immediately flow this discourse. As always, context is important to ascertaining the intent of Jesus.

Most the time, sermons and teachings have focused on stewardship issues within the text. While this is a part of the text, stewardship is more of an application of focusing on our abilities (i.e our talents). Jesus’ intent seems to be a different kind of stewardship than this. Speaking of stewardship of our abilities…

A young boy was called to the principle’s office. Waiting for him was his teacher. “Son, you are in big trouble. You cheated on this reading test and we have to punish. Cheating will not be tolerated,” said the principle. The boy was being a very good steward.

“Nuh uhh. I didn’t cheat,” replied the boy.

“Yes you did. The proof is right here on the test. You copied off Johnny’s test. You put the same answers down as him,” responded his teacher.

Thinking as fast as he could the boy said, “Johnny cheated off me.”

“No, the proof that you copied off Johnny is right here on the test,” she said as she pulled out two tests and put them in front of little Richie.

“On Question four which asked what Sally did at the park, Johnny wrote down, ‘I have no idea.’”

“And on question four you wrote, ‘neither do I,’”

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 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. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 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.’

"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!’

"The man with the two talents also came. ’Master,’ he said, ’you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

"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!’

"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. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

"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? 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.’

Here we have three doulos which can be translated as slave or servants. Most likely, Jesus was using the term here as a slave specifically a managerial slave. This would be a trusted slave that would act as the master’s agent. He would act on behalf of the master.

A talent has nothing to do with human ability at least in 1st Century Palestine. Our meaning of talent as human ability is at the very least distracting and potentially misleading for us. A talent in the ancient world was a monetary weight. Depending on the type of metal, a talent would equal about 6000 days’ wages, which is about 20 years of work. The enormous sum of money whether it is the first servant with 10 talents or the last with only one indicates the great value of what they have been entrusted with, their inability to earn it on their own, and the level of trust that the master has placed on each of the servants.

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